Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

28 September 2009

People. Feh- Who Needs 'Em?

We Harley riders like to tell you that our bikes have “personality.” We especially like to tell you this when they break down and strand us out in the middle of nowhere. As mine did today.

Ah, did not know I had a(nother) motorcycle, eh? It’s a long story. A three-part story actually, which you’ll read some day if I ever could get the pictures off my old computer that died so bad that it won’t even turn on now. It’s on my list...

But I digress.

Today was a gorgeous day for a ride. I didn’t have to go up to Brewton, but it seemed like a good excuse to roll the bike out of the garage, as if I needed one. “Work” completed (hah), I was on the way home, taking the long way/scenic route as usual. We’re talking back roads. And I was just cruising along, not a care in the world…fat, dumb and happy, singing out loud.

Going down that long, lonesome hiway
Bound for the mountains and the…

Then the engine died.

Crikey! Or words to that effect.

Oddly, the engine didn’t completely quit. It kept running at idle or just a little above, but would not accept any throttle (an important piece of troubleshooting information that would come in handy). And it kept backfiring. And all my electrical devices were dead. It was like somebody sort of shut the key off. But not.

I stopped in the driveway of a farm, a million miles from nowhere. The bike continued to idle, and I did not shut it off, oh no! Over the years, I’ve learned this the hard way. When something is wrong and you pull over by the side of the road, DO NOT SHUT THE FRICKEN ENGINE OFF! Believe me, it will *not* restart. Just ask my friends Greg and Chuck about the time I got the “Alternator” light in my Jetta on I-10 and pulled over to the side to look under the hood. Out of habit, I threw it in “Park” and shut the ignition off. As soon as I did, we all three looked at each other with that, “Oh shit,” expression. I screwed up. Coulda just left it running and drove to the nearest exit to check things out, but noooooooooooooooooo. I had to strand us on the Interstate for a couple of hours. I am moron.

Anyway, lesson learned, as I said.

On the Harley today, I did not see anything obviously wrong, nor did I expect to. It was an electrical problem to be sure. But what? I knew there was a convenience store about five miles ahead, so I limped on down the road at about 15 mph, idling in second gear, which is all I could get out of it. Many things go through your mind at a time like this. Mainly, how much is it gonna cost me to flatbed this sonovabitch piece of junk home from here? $100? Probably.

Coughing and spitting and popping, I made it to the convenience store. As luck would have it there was another motorcycle parked outside. Turned out that it belonged to the slightly scary-looking bestudded and “gauged” teenage clerk inside with the unnaturally black hair. I switched the bike off and, sure enough, it would not restart. When I turned the key back on, no juice at all. It was almost as if…thinking now…the battery…had…completely…died. But that usually doesn’t happen. Plus it’s a relatively new battery.

I pulled the left sidecover off, exposing said battery. On the inside of the cover there was a little decal with a diagram that showed the negative cable from the battery and the location where it attached to the engine. Why this diagram is there, I have no idea. (Or…maybe I do now.) When I looked at the connector post on the back of the engine where the negative battery cable was supposed to be, it was empty – nothing attached to it. What the…?

Probing a little further, I found the wayward negative cable. The terminal end had cracked cleanly off, and then the cable had fallen down among some others that are clumped there between the engine and the frame. Harleys do vibrate a bit. Even modern ones. They’ve rubber-mounted the engine now to keep the vibrations away from the rider, but the engine itself still jumps around like a hardware store paint shaker.

So it was just a broken electrical connection. All breakdowns should be this easy! On the other hand, I had not brought along even one lousy tool, not a pair of pliers or a screwdriver, not even my trusty Leatherman which I usually never leave home without, except for today. As I said, I am a moron.

The store manager, a short, heavyset, pleasant woman named Kathy came outside for a smoke. She was about my age. And she noticed me standing there over my motorcycle, scratching my head.

“Got a problem?”
she asked.

“Well, it is a Harley…” I cracked. “And it is broke.”

She chuckled. “Is there anything I can do to help?” She came over and bent down over the engine, probing in a way that said it wasn’t the first dead Harley she’d ever troubleshot by the side of the road. I explained what had happened, and showed her the naked terminal post. She fished around for the cable like she knew what she was doing. And to my surprise she discovered it without me having to point it out.

“Well, what do you need, hon?”

“A length of wire would do it, I suppose.” All convenience stores these days have a selection of automotive supplies. I figured that they’d have something I could make work. I pointed inside the store. “I’ll find something in there. I needed to stop for a cold drink anyway.” I was very affecting an air of Ah can do this ma-self, ma’am, thankyouverymuch.

Kathy wasn’t having it. She marched me inside with an odd sense of urgency. She disappeared into a back office, then came right back out with some old computer power cords they weren’t using anymore. In her hands were a pair of scissors and a razor knife. “Will this work?”

Man, I laughed. I didn’t know what to say. Of course it would work! It was exactly what I needed. So I sat down at a table and in a couple of minutes had fashioned me a new wire that I was able to splice between the old, broken one and a (different) grounding point on the engine. I knew it would get me home. I went outside, hooked everything together and the bike started right up as if it had never missed a beat. I had been there less than fifteen minutes, total. I killed the engine and went back inside.

“I don’t know how to thank you, ma’am,” I said, sincerely. (Actually, I do, and I will.)

”Bahhh, don’t worry about it, hon,”
she said with a dismissive wave of her hand. “I’ve watched plenty of Harleys get worked on in plenty of strange places. Things are always vibrating loose and breaking on ‘em. You just be careful riding home.”

The absolute, incredible kindness and generosity of complete strangers is one thing that constantly amazes and delights me about people. I did not know this Kathy from Adam. Yet she jumped right in to solve my little problem as if it were her own…as if I were 2,000 light-years from home, not 20.

One of the nice things about being a motorcyclist is that you get to interact with people in interesting ways. People still seem to be drawn to and friendly to motorcyclists for some reason. And when the motorcycle you ride is a Harley, you often get to interact with them under…well, unusual…circumstances. (Although having said, that, Harleys are waaaaaay more reliable than they used to be.)

In my short, sweet life, I have had far more rewarding and positive experiences with people than bad ones. And it is these positive experiences that keep me coming back for more (or is it “going out for more?"), seeking out all the good Kathys of the world so I can talk to them, even just for a little bit.

I love people. What a dreadful place this planet would be without them.

20 September 2009

We Made Southwest Airlines Go Around

Friday night, on our way home from Pennsylvania we had to stop in Birmingham, Alabama to drop off one passenger. We found ourselves in a bit of a race. Us and the thunderstorms: Who would get to Birmingham first? This King Air has two sources of weather: Onboard weather-radar that looks forward but only at short ranges; and for strategic planning a satellite-based Nexrad weather that shows a bigger picture.

The Nexrad was showing a solid line of east-west thunderstorms south of Birmingham. In the official jargon of aviation, it was what we pilots call a “line of shit.” Like the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, the storms were marching inexorably northbound, kicking everything in their path. From our vantage point, it appeared that we and the thunderstorms would arrive at the Birmingham Airport at roughly the same time. We watched them with concern, and formulated a plan to reverse course and high-tail it outta there to Huntsville (which was still in the clear) if we lost the race.

Approach Control kept us high…too high, really. We found ourselves inside of ten miles from the airport, still up at 5,000 feet, still hauling ass. Not a terrible situation, but at night you should take your time and fly more conservatively. Normally, Approach would have had us lower by then. No pilot likes being rushed. Ben was torn between slowing down and keeping the speed up. We couldn’t see the airport visually, because the clouds below us offered only temporary glimpses of the ground. But we certainly had it on the moving map display and could see how close we were getting.

A Southwest Airlines plane checked in on the frequency behind us. The pilot said, “…we have the King Air in sight.” So we knew that they were #2 behind us on the approach. And we knew that they were probably looking at the same weather we were. They knew that the airport was fixing to get pounded, and that our “window” was closing…fast.

Just as the Southwest pilot said she had us in sight we entered a cloud deck with rain. So she could not have kept us in sight very well. I wondered about that. We popped out the bottom of the cloud just as we intercepted the final approach course for runway 24, landing to the southwest. Ben had his competent hands full slowing down and staying on the glideslope. The King Air really puts on the brakes when you pull the power back and throw the flaps and the landing gear out. Maaaaaaarvelous plane! Things were working out nicely…for us.

Now, air traffic controllers do keep airplanes apart, you know that, but when you get close to landing things change a bit. If you say that you have the airplane in front of you in sight, then it becomes up to you to maintain a speed and separation and spacing that will allow you both to land. If you get too slow and too far behind the traffic, ATC might ask you to speed up. If you get too close, ATC might tell you that you are closing-in on your traffic and might suggest you slow to your minimum approach speed, but they will not command you to slow down. There’s a reason and I’ll get to it in a second.

Birmingham Airport sits in a big valley. As we eased down the final approach we could see the storms crossing the ridgeline just south of the airport. It was close, but we were winning. The Tower controller was squawking about windshear and stuff at the far end of the runway. It was raining pretty good ahead of the storms themselves and the runway was already wet. Final checklists complete, everything was looking good. Ben slid it on smoothly and we had good traction as we slowed.

The Runway 24 at KBHM is 12,000 feet long. Plenty of room. But the turnoffs for the FBO (fixed-base operator, or "terminal for small planes") we were parking at were using are more than halfway down. In good weather (e.g. daytime, not raining) we might have "landed long" to minimize our time on the runway. On a dark and rainy night however, you shoot a standard approach, which puts your wheels on the pavement about 1,000 feet down from the near end. This means that small, relatively slow airplanes like the King Air (compared to a 737) have a long roll-out. Tower asked us to exit the runway at taxiway H-2, which was still a ways up ahead. He matter-of-factly mentioned that there was a Southwest Airlines 737 on “short-final.” We knew the big Boeing had to be close.

Off to my right I saw the sign for taxiway H-3 and asked if we could take that? Tower said okay. But in the darkness and rain, I noticed too late that the turn onto H3 would be more than ninety degrees, and the taxiway led back to who-knows-where. On a wet runway in gusty winds and rain, the last thing you want to be doing is horsing an airplane around trying to make sharp turns while still slowing down from landing. Ben, who could see less from his side, decided to just continue down to H2, which was only slightly further ahead. I told the Tower we’d take H2 instead.

From the Southwest plane we now heard an urgent male voice. “Now!” he said. We angled over and got off the runway as expeditiously as we could. The next voice we heard was the Tower controller.

“Southwest 480, go around. Traffic on the runway.”

As we turned to get off the runway I looked back. The Southwest plane was literally over the threshold of the runway, in the flare (round-out), about to touch down. They had cut it too close on us. The Tower guy let it go as far as he could, but rulez is rulez. You can’t land if there’s already a plane on the runway.

The captain of the airliner acknowledged the go-around, and he clearly was not happy. They were probably cursing us mightily as they went by. The Tower asked them if they could just “make closed-traffic,” which is to say just swing around and come in for another landing? But the female pilot, back on the radios now, sighed and said no, they would not be able to keep the airport in sight and would need to go out and get sequenced-in again for another ILS approach. Which is what they did.

When we switched to Ground Control, I told the controller, “Well, we tried.” And he said, “Not your fault, guys,” which we knew to be true. In their haste to get on the ground, Southwest had simply followed too closely behind us. (They landed about ten minutes later – how, I do not know as it was raining and lightninging and thundering the whole time.) We got soaked just running the short distance from the plane into the FBO.

What we didn’t know at the time but found out later was that Southwest was ahead of us and originally going to approach and land on Runway 6. But storms in that direction forced them to circle and backtrack, looping around to set up to land on Runway 24, which put them behind us in the sequence. So they must have been anxious, figuring that they only had a short time to get on the ground. Any delay would cause them to have to go somewhere and “hold” (fly in a circle) while the storms passed. And then they would be faced with having to penetrate and pass through that very same line to get to the airport. Sometimes we get pinned between rocks and hard places in the air. Lines of thunderstorms can sometimes extend for 100 miles or more.

The Southwest pilot tried, but he just misjudged the spacing. We normally come “over the fence” at around 120 knots. When we were two miles from the end of the runway, we had slowed to 147 knots, still faster than normal and slowing further. The Southwest plane was now only four miles behind us and closing fast. They were doing 200 knots – more than fifty knots faster than us. And they wouldn’t be able to go much slower than that.

Ben and I talked about it in the FBO during the half-hour we waited for the storms to pass. Had we been able to fly a more normal approach profile (i.e. slower), it would have been obvious sooner that Southwest was too close. The controller would have said something, and perhaps Southwest would have increased their spacing. But they were burning toward the runway just like we were, fully aware that things were about to get ugly.

It would be great if we all flew on nice, clear days, with blue skies and birds chirping and flute music playing, when everything is easy and no tough decisions need to be made. But that’s not how it is in real life. Sometimes you do what you’ve got to do to make things work. And sometimes you mess up. We did the best we could. We did not rush or take unnecessary risks in conditions that were less than ideal. We felt badly that Southwest had to go around, but that little “deal” was on them, not us.

The rest of the flight back home was under beautifully clear, starry skies.

18 September 2009

Fish Out Of Water

I don’t like motels. But lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in them, as our airplane and helicopter venture hither and yon. Last weekend I spent two miserable days in a motel in Livingston, Alabama – which is about as far out in the middle of nowhere as you can get. Couple of days later it was another overnight in Birmingham, Alabama. Last night it was a motel in Latrobe, Pennsylvania where today our passengers are playing a round of golf with some guy named Arnold Palmer. (I hear he’s an avid pilot, but he may have some other claim to fame as well.)

Latrobe…which they seem to pronounce LAY-trobe is an interesting place. It’s pretty. I initially thought it was out in the boonies, but it turns out that Pittsburgh is only about 40 miles to the west. And while the residents of Latrobe probably think they live “out in the country,” it seems pretty crowded to me.

I grew up in New York City, but have been living in the south since 1987. A strange feeling comes over me when I come back north. It’s hard to explain. It is a subtle but palpable tightness of my gut and overall feeling of dread. I feel out of my element, like I don’t belong here.

I think it is the density of population that makes me uneasy. Things are much more crowded here in the north. Businesses are clumped together with little space between. Additionally, they are built close to the roadway, crammed into smaller lots, with commensurately small parking lots. Everywhere you look you see houses and buildings and people.

From a driver’s perspective, the roads are narrow, the lanes are narrow, and there are few turn lanes - not much space to get off the lane of traffic to turn into where you’re going. Drivers are more aggressive.

In the south things are more spread-out. There’s more room. It’s odd that I feel this way now, considering where I grew up. But being in the north just makes me claustrophobic. I could never live in “the north” again.

We’re supposed to leave LAYtrobe around 4:30 this afternoon, headed home. I’m looking forward to it.

11 September 2009

The Requisite 9/11 Post: You Say It's Yer Birthday

Greetings from Livingston, Alabama. Don’t ask me why I’m here. I’m a “corporate pilot,” and the one thing you need to know about being a corporate pilot is that you’re often called to give up your weekends. And so the Boss needed to come up here for this one. While he’s doing…whatever…I’m stuck in a motel until Sunday. In the middle of nowhere.

It’s a living.

Okay, 9/11. First of all, it's a sad day for all of us. We are a changed nation now. More angry, more paranoid, more protective, more self-righteous. More willing than ever to go wage war on anyone who threatens our "way of life." More willing to strike first than to be struck again in that way.

But secondly, today is my birthday. The terrorists have screwed-up my birthday forever, right? I know, it's trivial compared to the seriousness and importance of the day in general.

But then, why do we put so much importance on birthdays in the first place? My email inbox had numerous birthday greetings today. My Facebook page too (don’t we all have them?). A friend from PHI who I have not spoken to in years and years? Oh, and people at work were bubbly with “Happy Birthday!” Yeah, even the Boss. Even that rat-bastard Hal Johnson…whose blog I usually highly recommend but have since changed my mind…who I thought would have the decency to just leave it be just had to chime in. It seems that the more you try to ignore or downplay your birthday, the more people just have to remind you of them. Strange, that.

I turned 54 today, okay? I’m not real happy about it, and to be honest I would rather not have been reminded. Time is flying by at an alarming rate. It used to go so slowly. When did it speed up? This year has been the blink of an eye.

On this day eight years ago, I woke up, got a cup of coffee and got online right away as usual. A friend immediately IM’d me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. Bewildered, I turned my TV on…

It probably began that way for millions of us. Everyone has their own “9/11” story.

For me, the strangest thing about that morning was the Pentagon crash. First reports were that a “car bomb” or explosion of some sort had gone off “outside” at the Pentagon. First reports were not that a plane had crashed. Only later did we learn that it was actually a plane…a big plane…a friggin’ Boeing 757 that crashed into the Pentagon.

I always thought that was odd. I wondered how people could mistake a 757 for a car bomb? Wouldn’t the first reports be that a big plane crashed into the Pentagon?

A pilot for American Airlines was enroute to Chicago when he received this message from Dispatch directing him to divert to Kansas City (the airport code of which is "MCI"):


And so call me a tin-foil hat-wearing conspiracy nut, but I’ve always suspected that there was more to the Pentagon crash than the government has told us. I don’t know what, but I would not rule anything out.

Everything changed on "9/11." It is probably unnecessary to say that generations from now, we will look back on that awful day as a major turning point in our country’s history.

Next year, if I mark my birthday at all (and I certainly do not intend to), it'll be on September 1st, not the 11th.

Whine Mode: OFF

09 September 2009

A Moving Story

Moving sucks, no two ways about it.

Couple of months ago, Jacob moved from Pensacola down to Panama City. (Thankfully my part in that process was minimal.) Then a month ago we moved Matt and Alisha up to Atlanta. Two weeks ago we moved Gene over to Jacksonville.

Then it was my turn. Matt’s suddenly-vacant house needed a tenant. I could stay living in my little dumpy apartment, OR I could slide right into Matt’s three bedroom, two bath house complete with a (drumroll, please)...two-car garage (finally!). The rent wouldn’t be much more than I was already paying. Plus, with the garage I can bring the motorcycles over and get rid of the $130/month storage shed they were staying in.

Fortunately, I don’t have a bunch of heavy stuff. So the furniture/washing machine/dryer jazz was fairly easy. Unfortunately, I have years and years of assorted crap collected…enough books and magazines to start a smalltown library…a huge record (vinyl LP’s and cassette tapes) collection, airplane and motorcycle parts galore…you name it. None of it in any kind of order. Or box.

When Matt was applying for his new position in Atlanta, he hoped for at least a little time to make the move up from Pensacola. But when he was accepted, the bank said, “The job starts Monday, take it or leave it.” So he did what any husband would do: Went to work and look for a new house in Atlanta while staying with relatives, and left Alisha behind to pack up their belongings in the old one in Pensacola. Which she did. It must not have been easy. They have two kids.

Aaaaaaaaaanyway, so they’re gone and I now have this big ol’ house all to myself. It is literally twice the square footage of my apartment. Plus, it’s got a big attic and the aforementioned garage. I’ve also got a guest bedroom and an office/computer/workout room. It’s really more room than I need. Almost makes me wish that I’d gotten married and had kids. (pause) BWAAAAHAHAHAHAH, I kill me.

As big as it is (which is great), there is also a downside to living in a house: The lawn. The goddam lawn. Matt, since he knew he was moving had not mowed in a couple of months. Here I come, and guess what, the yard looks like an African jungle out there - a waving Serengeti-like plain of sawgrass in which you could lose a small pony. Okay, that's silly, that's an exaggeration. But certainly a large poodle.

So this morning, after it was already above 80 degrees with the humidity climbing, I fired up an old, recalcitrant gas lawnmower that got left behind (Matt has a new riding lawnmower in Atlanta, of course!). The problem here is that this here house is on a big corner lot. And on a hill. It’s incredibly hard to mow – unless you’re paying somebody to do it. Which I’m not. By the time I was half-done I was about ready to have a coronary. It dawned on me why I don’t own a house.

I grew up in New York City, in apartments. I like apartments.

Back to moving, and how much un-fun it is. The moving out is bad enough. First you have to box up all your crap, throw half of it out, then get the rest over to the new place. That took about a million trips because I had done exactly none of that boxing-up bit in advance and so was not even remotely ready to move when I had the trailer rented and the necessary friend(s) present.

Okay, so you get it all moved, but then there’s the unpacking and sorting and putting things in new places. And this is a major pain too. Fortunately, this new house has tons more room to store stuff, and it is easily absorbing all of the detritus and other junk I’ve accumulated over the years. The garage is slowly emptying as things migrate to their new locations – none of which I’ll remember when it comes time to look for something important. "Now where did I put that (insert item here)?"

I hope you never have to move. I hope you’re in a nice house or apartment, in a nice location, and never have to go through the hassle of packing up and leaving. It’s such a pain in the ass that – hey, remember those books and magazines I complained about having earlier? - I just might set fire to the place and walk away next time if I ever have to move again.

Just kidding, Matt. Just…umm…kidding. Yeah. I think. I’ll let you know after I have to mow the lawn again.

07 September 2009

Health Care, Anyone?

Talk to people. Everybody has thoughts on health care. Everybody’s an expert. Everybody knows what’s best.

Except…we don’t. It is a complicated subject. There is no easy, magic-wand solution.

At least I certainly don’t know what the solution is. The only thing I do know is that every American deserves to have health care. Not “access to health care.” Don’t try to be clever and give me that semantic bullshit. This is the U.S., supposedly the most advanced country in the world. The fact that so many of our citizens do not have health care is deplorable…shameful. We must change that.

How? Like I said, I dunno.

One of the blogs I regularly read is by another guy coincidentally named Bob. I love his stuff. He is a terrific writer. Although our political views differ, he strikes me as a smart, reasonable man who puts a lot of actual rational intelligent thought into things. Thus, I respect his opinions. (And he's not even a pilot!) The link to his blog is to the right over there ------>

Bob has written a great post on the health care issue – better than anything I could ever write. Please click HERE and see what he has to say. I think you’ll agree with him. Oh, and please do read the comments too. The respondents to Bob’s blog are as reasoned as he.

03 September 2009

Changing Pilots

Well, we had to change pilots on our King Air. The first guy just hated our plane too much. His King Air – the one he normally flies – was just the most perfect King Air in the world, don’t you know. Our King Air on the other hand was a big pile of crap. He disliked our plane so much that it was causing him to make mistakes in it. So distracted was he by the differences between the two planes that he sometimes made some basic errors that could have gotten him in a lot of trouble. In aviation, accidents usually result from a “chain” of events/mistakes, starting from some seemingly innocuous ones.

Anyway, it wasn’t working out. Neither for him or for us. I knew it; he knew it. So I quietly started looking around for another pilot. There are a lot of out-of-work pilots out there. It didn’t take long for me to find one.

The new guy, by the name of Ben is in some ways the exact opposite of the old guy. Not only is he a great pilot, but he welcomes my presence in the cockpit rather than considering me an irritating intrusion. He’s flown a number of flights for us already, ironically none of them with me onboard (except for one familiarization flight the day he was hired). Until this past Tuesday. Then we finally got to fly together on a “mission.”

It was an easy flight: Just take the Boss up to Tuscaloosa, Alabama and back. About 30 minutes each way with a long wait in the middle. But it was one of the most fun, instructive flights I’ve had in a long time. (By the way, the same flight in the helicopter takes me nearly an hour and forty minutes one-way!)

We took off and got our IFR clearance, which was good because Tuscaloosa Airport, which should have been severe clear, had a low, thin, unforecast morning cloud deck sitting right over it. Ceiling: 1200 feet overcast. Tops of the clouds: 2500 feet. It would take a while to burn off. Ben flew the plane while I handled the radios, checklists and some other cockpit stuff. It’s a small thing, I know, but it felt good to be involved in the flight instead of just feeling like a passenger in the copilot’s seat.

We broke out of the clouds right at 1200 feet, and the runway was right in front of us. As it should be. “Instrument flying” in airplanes is great! So different from the hunt-and-peck method of navigation I usually employ in the helicopter, in which it is sometimes a real challenge to remain in “good” weather (i.e. enough visibility to see forward and the ability to stay high enough to not hit anything on the ground).

Ben has been terrific, generous and helpful. From the first day on the payroll he’s been giving me pointers on the fine art of King Air flying. He does things a little differently than our last pilot – and this gave me cause for concern at first – but experience has shown that his way is equally as good if not better than anyone else’s. And that’s the strange and wonderful thing about flying: Every pilot has his/her own technique; there are usually many “right” ways of doing things.

I’ve had the pleasure of flying with some awesome King Air pilots in the past. I’ve tried to learn something from each of them. Even the guy who didn’t work out wasn’t a bad pilot – in fact he was damn good! Most of the time. I’m sure that in his own airplane he was superb. He just had some issues that got in the way of his doing a great job for us. No big deal. No harm, no foul. But I do like this new guy, Ben. Fingers crossed that he works out well. So far, there’s every reason to believe he will.

02 September 2009

Flight-Physical Time

My FAA medical certificate expired at the end of August. Dang, has it been a year already? I don’t know about the rest of you, but 2009 has flown by, no pun intended.

I used to worry about taking my annual physical exam. We all do. It’s one of the few times during the year in which we could lose our ability to do something we love (not to mention that particular something is what puts food on the table). I’ve written about this before, a couple of years ago. Elevated blood sugar? “YER OUTTA HERE!” Diabetes doesn’t “fly” with the FAA. High blood pressure? Here, take this medicine FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. We all like to think that we’re reasonably healthy, so no one wants either of those two things to happen.

I’ve been going to the same doctor for years and years now. Not that he knows me, only seeing me once every twelve months but he, his office and his staff are all familiar to me. It’s comfortable. I went in, filled out the form, hung around for an hour or so being poked and prodded and measured while chatting with the PA’s and finally the good doctor himself. After the necessary scrutiny, they handed me the sought-after form and I’m good to go for another twelve months.

Today’s exam was a piece o’cake. Makes me wonder why I sweated these things for so long? I guess as I get older, the less stressful it is to be poked and prodded. (Okay, if I'm being honest, there was one poke - or maybe it was a prod - that was not much fun. I won't go into details.)