There is always music playing in my head. Either I'm listening to it externally (e.g. radio, iPod, etc.) or I'm just thinking of a song. Often, if I'm alone in the aircraft or car, I'll be singing as well. What would we do without music in our lives?
One of my favorite songs of all time is the one from Stevie Wonder above, from 1973.
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Aviation insurance companies usually want to see a certain amount of flight time accrued in a specific aircraft type before they will cover a pilot. Their reasoning is that pilots with little relative experience are a greater risk. Thus, we often have what is called “make and model” time minimums. And even then, although I have, like, a bazillion hours in the Bell 206B, our insurance company in Alabama still requires me to have annual Recurrent Training in that specific model.
Up here in Washington, we're not carrying passengers or cargo, so our insurance company feels that as long as a pilot has 1,000 hours total time he is good-to-go with no make-and-model minimum for the S-55. Obviously, I've got the 1,000 hours - and then some.
Nevertheless, my Sikorsky S-55 make-and-model time is very low, and I must be aware of the increased risk at which I'm operating. Last year, I flew a total of 18.5 hours in it. At the end of the season I was feeling pretty comfortable in the ship, but not what you’d call super-proficient. (Hey, a man’s gotta know his limitations.) After all, we’re just hovering around; there’s little opportunity to get out and “see what she’ll do”…explore the edges of the flight envelope. Not only that, but these things are so rare that I'm not inclined to go out and play around and maybe prang one.
This year, the season is not completely over yet and I already have an additional 25 hours in the S-55. And it is only now that I am beginning to feel competent. But I know I am still far from being a master of it. Every so often, while ferrying between orchards the aircraft will do something and I’ll cock an eyebrow and go, “What’s going on?” Every aircraft has its own idiosyncrasies; it takes time to learn them. And learning, I am. This helicopter teaches me things every time I go up.
Learning new stuff: That’s one of the eternally fun and interesting aspects of flying. As long as I’ve been in this career, as many things as I've done, as many hours as I have amassed...there is still something more to learn. I'm no Misstra Know It All.