Boy-oh-boy, does time fly! I apologize for not keeping this thing more up-to-date.
I left Pensacola during the first week of June, headed for my usual summer gig flying helicopters up here in Washington State. I came solo this time, in my own car. Stopped in to see my friend Taylor Rohde who's flying tours around Mt. Rushmore for a company called Black Hills Aerial Adventures.
I like doing sightseeing rides like those. For most passengers it is their first time in a helicopter - which let's be honest is pretty awesome! And most tour operations are at places that are pretty visually dramatic. So as the pilot you have this incredible opportunity to give the passenger(s) a literally magical experience they'll never forget.
One of my first jobs as a commercial pilot was flying tourists around New York City back in 1984. I'll tell you, that job never got old; I loved it. In fact, it is the one job I would go back and do in a heartbeep. The look on the faces of the passengers as they got out of the machine at the end of the ride was priceless.
Nowadays, I hover over wet cherry trees, and the cherries don't seem to appreciate my efforts very much.
I'm back up at my same spot, living in the same RV, flying my same ship, working for the same grower as the past two seasons. This year however, I'm paired with my good friend Brandon Arago, who is one of the most incredible pilots (and people) I've ever had the pleasure to work with. This kid has more talent in the fingernail of one pinky than I've got in my whole body. At the controls, he makes me look sloppy and rough and careless...and that's when I'm trying to be good!
We had some really rainy days right in the middle of the June. The orchard owners thought there'd be a late start due to the chilly, elongated Spring and so had held off on starting our "stand-by" contracts. But the rains came and panic ensued: We were all put on contract at about the same time as last year. There was a mad scramble to get ships and equipment into place all at once.
I walked through one of "our" orchards this morning. The cherries are not quite ready to be picked yet. Soon, though. We'll probably work through the end of July and I'll go back to Pensacola sometime in August...maybe...I've got plans of stopping in and seeing friends on the way home, one of which is west of here over on the coast.