Friday, July 13, 2012

A Beautiful Sunset Flight Home


It seems that so many posts of mine start out with a stunning picture of the airplane that I fly for a living. But I honestly can’t help myself. Look at this thing!


On Sunday afternoon, it was time to bring a few people back to Scottsdale from Bremerton. I didn’t mind, because it meant a whole two nights home before I was gone for a solid two weeks on the road.


Have you ever seen Mount St. Helens? Now you have! Look how she blew her top! And you can still see the ash and smoke marks! Just incredible! And a little creepy.


El Capitan went in back to check on his kid, so it was just Gladys and me for a few minutes. Girl time!


I think this is the first photo proof of me and Gladys in flight. Man, I’m slow. I just feel silly taking pictures of myself when other people are watching. With just me in the cockpit, I took advantage with my camera lens.


The best part of the flight was the gorgeous view. Can you believe that this is what I see outside of my office window?


As we got closer to home, we flew right over the Grand Canyon. It is so beautiful from the air. And, with the setting sun to only bring out the colors more, it was bright orange. For some reason, my camera can never capture the true beauty all around me.

Hmmm. Is this yet another subliminal message that I should get a fancy-pants camera?! So I can take killer pictures at work?!


Though we were able to avoid the bulk of the thunderstorms in the Convective SIGMET that extended all the way from Idaho to Arizona, we descended through a few puffs of non-dangerous clouds as we got ready to land at home.

This picture was taken just a few hundred feet above entering the clouds. It’s always so fun to go through clouds because it really shows how fast we are going.


I’m actually in love with all of these pictures from tonight’s flight. Look how barren this desert looks! Aren’t those clouds so pretty with the sun disappearing to the right? The lighting was just awesome as I flew further towards home.


We are certainly getting closer to habitation. This is the northern side of Phoenix. People actually live this far out and commute into the city, over an hour-and-a-half drive. It only took about eight minutes in Gladys. Man!


Sheesh. Maybe I will just frame all of these!


My camera clicked into “sunset mode” to take this picture, and I’m so glad. It really draws out the orange and reds in the mountains while showcasing the clouds above.

I really like this picture, too. It almost makes me forget that it is 110 degrees down below. Almost.


I hope that I don’t sound cocky about these shots, but I absolutely love them! I just lucked out with the lighting during the flight, and the pictures turned out well because of that lighting. This is our final approach to land on Runway 21 at home.

We’ve only been gone three days, but it has been busy. And oh-so-fun.


An airplane and a sunset. We’re all happy now, right?

This might be my favorite shot of the night, though it’s hard to pick.


Full-body shot of Gladys in the setting sun. Aren’t those clouds gargeous?


My camera couldn’t quite show it, but these clouds were bright purple and orange. It was a stunning backdrop for my Phenom 300’s tail.

I like how the reflection of the sunset can even be seen in her black paint.


Home for a whole day. It will be a fun two weeks.

Which is your favorite picture?

By the way, as you read this, I am hopefully hanging upside-down on a killer roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain. And having a ball, no-doubt. This is my job!?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

From Canada to Seattle…Twice


My stay in Kelowna was so short that I didn’t get to explore town as much as I would have liked. Maybe I’ll get to come back next year and will have more hours of the day to look around. But I got my candy. And that’s all that really matters, right?

After waiting at the FBO for a few hours on Saturday afternoon, it was time to head back to the good ol’ United States.


So we might as well go in style…flying in a beautiful Phenom 300. Man, isn’t she pretty? The green background only makes the view better.


Gladys was wheels-up with two passengers just after five o’clock in the evening. I had ice on board to cool down some drinks, but that was about the extent of getting ready for our return flight.


We were certainly the biggest airplane on the FBO ramp. Not that it matters, or anything. I’m just putting it out there.


It’s a pretty rare day in Canada when they not only have a GPU to help us start our engines without draining our battery, but they also let us use it for free! Almost every place I’ve ever visited in Canada charges for these power carts, even with a giant fuel purchase.

I’m glad that Kelowna was ignorant of such traditional Canadian practices.


Our flight wasn’t directly home to Bremerton…we needed to stop in Seattle at Boeing Field first to clear Customs. I sent the electronic form via their archaic website, then we called to let them know that we would be landing around 6:00 PM at their facility for our coming-back-home check.

The crew and passengers alike got to fill out the Customs declaration. I’ve found that the more prepared we are when we arrive, the nicer the Customs peeps are to us. Also, I smiled and waved at him as he walked up the airplane. That couldn’t hurt, either, right?


The iPad with our Jeppessen charts helps us get around on the airport. It even connects with the Bluetooth GPS to let us know where we are on the airport. It’s nice to have when I’m unfamiliar with the field and don’t know exactly where to turn.


The Kelowna Airport was a bone yard of sorts for some old Convair airplanes. These beauties from the 1940s are gorgeous, but it’s hard to admire them when they are obviously being scrapped for parts. Boo.


Soon we were in the air and back towards the southwest to arrive at Boeing Field in Seattle about forty-five minutes later. Just like the flight a day before, we flew over some beautiful sights.


It got slightly less snowy as we got closer to Seattle. I forget what green looks like by living in Phoenix!


Hi, Boeing Field! You are so close to downtown and are a neat place to visit. I wish we had more time to spend together today, but I am only here to clear Customs. Then I’m going to take Gladys with me, and we are going to go back to Bremerton.

Or maybe it’s her taking me with her?


Have I mentioned that I love Seattle? But probably only because of clear days like this.


Boeing Field is thusly named because it is one of the main airports where Boeing makes deliveries to its customers. Do you see all of these 737s lined up for delivery? Boeing delivers a Boeing 737 every fourteen hours. Isn’t that crazy?

Also, in the distance, we could see one of the beautiful 787 Dreamliners. They will be released this fall for service and are absolutely huge! It will be neat to see them oot and aboot in the industry.


Look at Mount Rainier in the background. Isn’t that the perfect backdrop to landing at Boeing Field?!


We were only down for Customs for about fifteen minutes, which is a small miracle in itself. My view of downtown Seattle was incredible. I’ve explored all of this on foot before. It’s a great place to visit, if you’re looking for something wonderful.




That open stretch of yellow field is actually Bremerton Airport. It was busy coming in, but they were expecting us.


Remember when I was here last month? All of those pretty yellow flowers have gone away, but the green still stays. Man, it’s gorgeous here!


I love this picture of Gladys’ shadow as we are on final approach for landing Runway 1.


Bremerton Airport doesn’t even have a control tower. It was pretty much all ours tonight as we touched down and taxied into the FBO.

We helped the passengers load their bags into the car and got them on their way.


And then it was my turn to load up a car and head towards town. Bremerton is about seven miles away from the airport, but it was a lovely drive.


Another bone yard exists in Bremerton, but this time it is for old aircraft carriers. These things are massive! These are docked just south of the still-operating Naval shipyard in Bremerton.


Soon I was safe and sound in my hotel room. The view of the harbor was great, as always. I didn’t stay in here long, as I needed to grab a bite for dinner.


So I walked across the courtyard and found dinner at a taco shop. Chips and refried beans? Yes, please!


Pork carnitas tacos? Well, all righty then.

Everything tastes better when you’re hungry. I love Mexican food.


I ate my very-healthy dinner while enjoying the giant fountain in the courtyard of the hotel. There was a wedding going on in the conference center next door, and my dinner was entertained with some people-watching.

Against my will, I am staying at the Hampton Inn that stole my shoes. Everywhere else was sold out. Thankfully, it was only for one night.


Oh my goodness. How did this happen? It wasn’t planned at all.


This Founders Favorite was incredibly good. Sweet Cream ice cream with caramel, hot fudge, brownies, and pecans mixed in. All things good, in my book.


Goodbye, ferry to Seattle! I’ve been on you and love you, too! What a great ending to a great day. Flying, ice cream, sunsets, ferries, etc..

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Hills Are Alive in Kelowna


It had already been a wonderful morning of flying, but we had more in store for the day.

After quickly getting fuel in Bremerton, we continued on our way to Kelowna, British Columbia with two passengers in back. Luckily, because Gladys is beautiful and fast, we made it there in just forty-five minutes.

But first, I enjoyed some eye candy on the ramp in Bremerton.


Funny story about this giant Falcon. They came up from San Diego for the week with some people and dogs on board. When they landed, someone realized that two dogs were missing. The pups had been left at home on accident.

So this giant, expensive-to-operate airplane turned back around and flew to San Diego.

To pick up two dogs.


We got out of there, but no dogs were involved. Here we are taxiing to Runway 19 for takeoff towards the northeast.


Of course, with the incredible lack of clouds, we were able to see downtown Seattle from miles away. This is one of my favorite cities in the world.

I heart Seattle.


We crossed some Rocky Mountains on our way to the great country of Canada. Look at all that snow on the tops of the mounts? That stuff never melts! It looks so pretty from the air, but I’m pretty sure I would freeze to death down there. Even in July.


As we got closer to our destination, I couldn’t help thinking of the Sound of Music song, “The Hills Are Alive.” Look at this place! Don’t you just want to sing after looking at it?!


We flew right past downtown Kelowna on our way to the airport just north of town. This is where all the magic was happening this weekend, as our passengers were here to enjoy some cultural festivities. The town sits next to Okanagan Lake, which is beautiful.


We were vectored farther from the airport than normal to make room for an Air Canada Dash-8 on final approach. Once he was abeam our wing, we started our right turn to base, then another right turn to final for landing.

The airport is just past that tiny lake, to the left of that little mountain. Can you see it?


The Hills Are Alive!!!!

So pretty and green. Sorry. I couldn’t resist.


Once on the ground, we taxied all the way to the north side of the airport to park at the Shell Aerocentre. Because of the French influence, all of Canada spells things differently than us.

Hi, WestJet! This was a busy little airport with several different airlines frequenting the beauty in the mountains.

Amazingly enough, we are only about 1,400 feet above sea level.


This is my favorite picture of the day…a perfect capture of a C-130 taking off!


Hi, Kelowna Tower! Thanks for pointing us in the right direction! You’re so nice.


OK, Gladys. You be a good girl. I will see you in about twenty hours. Just a short, one-night stay here in Kelowna. You’ve done great today, flying from Phoenix to Bremerton to Kelowna. You deserve a night of rest.


This was a view from inside the lobby, where we grabbed a rental car for our night’s stay. I was surprised that there weren’t more corporate airplanes visiting, since the festival going on in town draws lots of attendance.


The folks at the Shell Aerocentre took great care of us and had lovely senses of humor. I love when people laugh at my feeble attempts at jokes.


I hadn’t eaten since breakfast nine hours before, so lunch was a real treat. We even found an Old Spaghetti Factory in town and knew that was where we were meant to be.


Obviously, I hardly enjoyed my salad with homemade parmesan ranch dressing. I almost licked the plate but thought against it. I must represent Americans in good light, and I didn’t think that would shed pleasant light on my country.

We had a really good server who kept on top of our table. I drank about six gallons of water, but he was always right there with the pitcher to refill me. I always try to avoid drinking too much water before long flights, so I then have to make up for it afterwards!


My goodness. Was I really so hungry that I couldn’t take a picture of the lunch-sized lasagna for you before I dug in? That’s pretty selfish, if you ask me.


Next, we were off to the hotel. The main road was surrounded on both sides with beautiful mountains. On top of those mountains were beautiful homes! I wonder if they would let me in a few for a tour?

I didn’t want to creep anyone out or anything, so I decided against knocking on their doors.


We stayed at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott. My new goal is to stay on Marriott properties as much as possible so I can attain lots of points in one chain. I have lots of points in every hotel chain, thanks to my busy traveling career. But I would love to focus more on just one to really get something accomplished!


And who wouldn’t want to stay somewhere with a cool outdoor slide to the pool? Somehow, they were bragging that this slide was open year-round. But I don’t see how that is physically possible in Canada, especially since they don’t heat this pool!


And perhaps the best part of my entire trip was the location of a Wal-Mart right next door. Since my room wasn’t available yet, I walked over to see if they carried my favorite candy in the whole wide world.

They did. And I bought some.

And then, in a monumental feat of self-control, I placed them in the refrigerator in the hotel room before eating them. These guys are so much better when they are cold.

Why, oh why, did they stop making these for the United States? Oh well. I will just have to enjoy them in person when I’m in Canada instead! I hate to admit that this is one of my main incentives to come here!

It was a nice day, but I was pretty tuckered out by that late afternoon when I finally checked in. And I had some candy to eat, so the evening was perfect.

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