When I first got up there, Dave Smith, owner of Golden Wings Aviation gave me a spare car of his. I was content to ride the motorcycle around, but there were times when a car came in handy (e.g. trips to Walmart) and I was glad to have it. In the end, I drove that car back down to Florida, leaving the Sportster in Washington for next summer when I return.
And this is where I left it. The sign on the outside of the hangar wall says, "Harley Parking Only - Violators Will Be Crushed." I know it's in good hands. And yes, they will put it in the hangar.
I did not have a flying job lined up for my Return To Real Life. That kind of worried me, but I am a big believer in the power of prayer. And you know, God works in mysterious ways. My friend Brad flies a jet for a wealthy Texan who lives in Dallas but has properties all over the place. Said wealthy Texan has been thinking about getting a helicopter for some time. A “good deal” helicopter has surfaced and Brad thought it might be a good candidate for his boss. He wanted me to take a look at it: How soon could I be in Dallas? So I said goodbye to my trusty Sportster and beat feet out of Brewster on Sunday evening, headed south. I did not get to stop and visit with friends along the way as I’d planned. (I also did not have to go to California either; the helicopter I was supposed to go see there got sold.)
I arrived in Dallas on Tuesday night. Wednesday morning, the first thing Brad and I did was jump in his car and drive up to Tulsa, Oklahoma to look at a Bell 206L LongRanger. This is a stretched and more powerful version of the 206B I had been flying in Alabama. This “L-Model” is much nicer, newer and has less total time on it. It’s also got an autopilot and air conditioning. Sweet! I gave it a good once-over and pronounced it as something I’d like to fly. A knowledgeable and experienced mechanic will have to evaluate the mechanicals.
Back in Dallas, we were supposed to meet with Brad’s boss but he was never available. I stuck around, getting familiar with the operation. He needed to go to his ranch in south Texas on Friday, so I rode along in the jet. I’ll tell ya- I’m a helicopter pilot by birth but I could get used to that jet flying stuff. Brad flies the twin-engine, six-passenger, single-pilot Hawker-Beechcraft Premier. It’s got bells and whistles that business jet pilots could only dream about just a few years ago. At the ranch, things kept getting in the way of us sitting down and talking helicopters.
We finally met up with the boss back in Dallas on Saturday morning. I thought it was just a preliminary talk, but it turned quickly into a job offer. He pressed me for a salary number. I threw out a fairly large one. After some discussion, he agreed.
So now I have this dilemma. It would be foolish to turn down this gig – the money is just too good. But these “corporate/personal” flying jobs can and often do suck. They demand a lot of a pilot’s time: weekends, holidays and such. Often there are “extra duties” that don’t involve flying. (My last job had too many of these, as my then-boss made it clear that he considered me one of his least-productive employees.) This new boss does not seem to require much from Brad other than flying. That would be good for me as well. And even better, I’ll get to fly with Brad in the jet! (He and I are pretty good friends and have been for some time looking for a way to work together.)
So that’s my story. I keep falling into these weird situations. I have to say, I’m ambivalent about taking this job. Life is complicated, and it does not necessarily get easier...or more simple...as you get older.