Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Smells Like Wind

Some trips I eagerly anticipate, and just such a trip occurred last week when I got to fly to Milwaukee and Chicago. If you can ignore the fact that the temperature dips to inhumanly tolerable temperatures for most of the year, both of these cities are actually quite pleasant. And I like them. In late August.

We began our week of fun last Monday morning by making a stop in Denver for a few hours. We dropped off Big Boss #2 at Jeffco Metro Airport on the northwest corner of town, and then we flew the airplane to Centennial Airport on the southeast side of Denver to pick him up. It worked out well for us since we could take on more fuel (thanks, long runway), and therefore make the trip to Milwaukee much faster without having to fly Long Range Cruise airspeed to conserve fuel. Denver is always a fun place to stop, but we rarely spend the night. And I have only been to Jeffco once before. Conveniently, they had an airshow just the day before. I got to witness a Tornado take off and then do a high-speed pass over the airfield. It was amazing! Any airplane that demands earplugs gets my official stamp of approval! After picking up our passengers and getting some fuel at the Denver Jet Center in KAPA, we were on our way north.

Milwaukee is such a charming town, and we visit often thanks to a new site going in. I got to tour it this time and was so impressed. My company has some really neat people who can turn junk into beauty! Terry and I then went to dinner at El Fuego, which used to be our favorite Mexican place but will never be frequented by us again. It just keeps getting worse, and I should have screeched to a halt in the Culver's parking lot on the way! I did make up for it later by walking there to get a concrete mixer with mint and brownie. Talk about a delicious shake! We tried a new hotel, the Sleep Inn, a little farther down the road from the airport. It was nice, and I slept well.

At noon on Tuesday, we were on our way to Chicago. Though it is only an 80-mile flight, they fly us slow and low over the lake to the east of the city then bring us in from the south to land at Midway Airport. We parked at Odyssey Flight, which used to be a Million Air. They switched from Jaguars as the crew cars to Range Rovers. It's rough being a pilot. I didn't get to enjoy the nice wheels, however, because we had been hooked up with a car for our sojourn in town. Big Boss #2 is so thoughtful and always makes sure we have a way to get around. He is also very scheduled and communicative and, thus, a joy to fly around the continent. We were to be in Chicago for a few days, so we celebrated by ordering a pizza from Giordano's. I wake up at night thinking about this deep-dish's that good.

Next we went to our hotel, the Four Points by Sheraton. Amazingly, this is the cheapest hotel within a five-mile radius of the airport. I love staying here because of all the fun things to do within walking distance of the hotel. Can I admit that chain stores are fun to wander? And there is a mall next door that is perfect for people-watching? I had a day and a half to kill doing just that, and I also got some reading done in my room. What a treat! I also treated myself to "lunch" at IHOP. I love breakfast for any meal, but my husband isn't a fan. So I try to get some pancakes and hash browns in me at every opportunity, and that just so happens to be on the road for work!

Thursday was a surprise in that we flew home a day early. I couldn't have asked for better timing, since my family reunion was underway in Sedona. However, we hit a snag during our fuel stop in Kansas when our thrust reverser armed during approach into the airport. Granted, it still needed to receive hydraulic pressure to actually open the bucket, but it's never fun to be ten miles out and get a flashing red warning annunicator. It IS, however, a great way to check ones pulse. Mine still works, apparently. We were able to track down a mechanic on the field who was able to place the locking pin into the thrust reverser to prevent it from deploying. He also unhooked the electrical signals to the reverser, thus leaving it unable to receive the command to open. An open thrust reverser in flight is worse than an engine failure...not only is one engine not helping to move you forward, but it's trying to take you in the other direction and kill you! After a few hours on the ground in Salina, we were on our way to Phoenix.

Since we landed at a different airport for maintenance, I took a taxi home. I arrived to find John had completely packed us for the reunion! We loaded the car and were on our way to Sedona. Other than wondering if my life was going to end for a split second, the week was a dream. I'm so glad we practice things like that in the simulator during recurrent training.

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