"I want to be gone no later than 6:00 PM," said Big Boss after he found out that the flight to Florida would take 5.5 hours with a fuel stop. Add on top of our travel a three-hour time difference, and we would be landing in Fort Lauderdale pretty late in the morning. Just an hour and a half late, at 7:30 PM, we were wheels-up and on our way for the busiest fifty-three hours I've ever had at work.
We arrived in College Station, Texas around midnight local for our fuel stop. They were expecting us, and I had ordered a few pizzas to be waiting for our dinner for the passengers. The others even saved me a few pieces after I watched My Baby get fueled. Just half an hour later, we were back up in the air and on our way to the final destination of the day...the east coast of Florida just north of Miami. We had to fly over and through some thunderstorms around 3:00 AM. Come on...really?! Finally, the lights of Fort Lauderdale came into view. After buttoning up the airplane and making our way to the Hampton Inn just three miles away, I turned out the lights in my hotel room at 4:19 AM.
And just four hours later, my alarm went off to awaken me for another day of fun. I'm an eight-hours-a-night type of gal, so I wasn't functioning very well. A hot shower helped, but I still felt sluggish. Thank goodness for a great breakfast waiting in the hotel lobby! I love when I can make my own Belgium waffle! I had a feeling today was going to be a long day. We flew from the east coast to the west coast of Florida to Fort Myers. I hadn't been to this airport before (Page), and I was amazed by the new FBO (less than a week old) and gorgeous WWII decorations. Just an hour here and we were gone again, this time a little north to St. Petersburg. I love this stop because there are tons of C-130s based on the field for the Coast Guard. Did you know I looked into joining the Coast Guard to fly about five years ago? They required 50/20 uncorrected vision...and I had 55/20. Though I was disappointed at the time, I wouldn't be trucking around North America in a Beechjet had I gotten in! After St. Pete, we flew east again to a tiny airport in Lake Wales. They don't even have a fuel truck, but we had plenty of fuel since our hops all over Florida were only about twenty minutes long. After a rainstorm in Lake Wales, we were on our way to Leesburg. I hadn't been here before, either, and loved the awesome porch with rocking chairs! After getting the airplane ready for our next flight, I got to enjoy a rocking chair for a whole three minutes before my passengers arrived for our next flight! Another new airport for me to visit...I've never been to Pensacola, Florida and loved it. Since it was late evening, and I had been up for a long time with almost no sleep the night before, I kept hoping that Big Boss would let us know where we were going to end for the night. No such luck for several more hours...we had to visit a few more towns before finally being done for the day. We stopped in Augusta, Georgia (home of the U.S. Masters Golf thingy) and stayed for just an hour before finally heading to our last stop of the night. I had never been to Salisbury, Maryland, which is on a peninsula just east of Washington DC. It's always fun to fly to an unfamiliar airport in awful weather with no control tower! Heavy rain, two-mile visibility, and gusty winds over forty miles an hour? No one likes to hear that on the AWOS before landing! We made it down safely around 1:15 AM. By the time I brushed my teeth and turned out the lights, it was 2:19 AM. I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. What a day!
Just five hours later, my alarm sounded again. Isn't this a form of child abuse?! We got to the airplane and fueled as best as we could without knowing our next destination. Then Big Boss called to say he wanted us to pick him up at another town. We hopped in My Baby and flew slightly north to Easton, which is the Hamptons of Washington DC. After we got some fuel and two passengers on board, we headed west to Kentucky! I've never been to Louisville before and was excited to visit the headquarters of UPS. Lots of big airplanes at that airport! Since we had a whole hour and a half, we bolted to get some dinner...BBQ, of course. I had a delicious pulled pork sandwich with their homemade BBQ sauce. Sweet potato fries and deep-fried corn on the cob. I love corn, but this wasn't as good as I was hoping. Thank goodness! No one needs to get addicted to fried corn on the cob! Our passengers arrived back at the airport just after us, and we were off to Denver! A perfect 75-degree greeted me when I opened the airplane door...I love Denver! We were here for about three hours, and I started to get my hopes up that our next stop would be home. Did I jinx us? He showed up and announced that we were headed to California! After a two-hour flight and a hour-and-a-half stay in San Bernardino's new Million Air FBO, we were on our way home shortly after 11:00 PM. Luckily, I wasn't accused of being drunk on the radio, though there was certainly some slurring going on! It was hard to enjoy that last flight with so little sleep in me, but we finally landed on Runway 8 at Phoenix. Home never looked so good!
Fifty-three hours. Fifteen cities. Nine hours of sleep. If I think breaking records is fun, then this week shattered them all!
And yes...I did get sick from sleep deprivation! Who can be surprised at that?!
Phoenix - College Station - Fort Lauderdale - Fort Myers - Saint Petersburg - Lake Wales - Leesburg - Pensacola - Augusta - Salisbury - Easton - Louisville - Denver/Jefferson County - San Bernardino - Phoenix