Friday, August 24, 2012

A Day Like the Olden Days – Part Two


When we left off from yesterday’s adventure, we had just gotten fuel in Provo and picked up a few passengers. Gladys looked particularly beautiful under the blue Utah sky.


I barely had enough time to pay for the fuel before we were out the door and on our way again! I did pay, just for the record. I’m glad that it only takes about ten minutes to fuel my airplane.

She makes us look good.

This is an almost-identical picture from one this past Monday of our departure from the same runway out over Utah Lake after leaving Provo Airport.

Consistency is key, people!


In the distance is Provo, Orem, and the Mount Timpanogos. Pretty cool caves in there. For people who like caves. So, not me.


We crossed over some developing clouds, which meant that we had a few bumps in the climb. We were soon above them all and on our way back to Bremerton to drop some passengers off and pick up a few others.


Hi, Mount Hood. I can almost call you by your first name, since I’ve seen you so much these past several months. But you’re pretty, and I could never get tired of such a view from the flight levels.


Here we are descending through Seattle airspace on our way to Bremerton. I hated clouds like this when I was a flight instructor because they usually had ice in them, and we would thus have to weather our training flights.

North Dakota had icy clouds. Can you believe that?


What a pretty view of Tacoma. I love this part of the world. Look how green and gorgeous everything is. And this is July! At home, things are baked to a nice, brown crisp by about mid-May.

It has been so nice to escape the heat so much this month. And I’m getting paid to do it!


This is part of the Puget Sound, which separates Seattle from Bremerton. I take ferries across this water all the time to enjoy Seattle. Bet you didn’t know that, huh? I rarely mention it.


See this golf course? I’m going to tell you a story about it. Just remember that it is about four miles away from the Bremerton Airport. OK?


We are over the golf course, and out the window is a view of the Bremerton Airport. See how far that is?

Now imagine this: You’re a student pilot on a solo cross-country flight from Renton, Washington. You just landed at Bremerton on your final leg of three and are now turning towards Seattle to return to Renton. You get about four miles away, over a golf course to be exact, when your engine starts to sputter and then suddenly quits.

All of those emergency practices with your flight instructor come into play. Pitch the nose of the airplane up and trim while looking for a safe place to land. You are trying to attain the best glide speed, which will give you the least amount of drag and thus let you glide farther. Once at this speed, you can try to get the engine back. But maybe you should just prep things for an emergency landing. Because, with just one engine (that is now dead), you are coming down. No other choices!

I wish that I could say this was a fake story. But it really happened!

The student pilot glided towards the airport and barely cleared some trees. I was outside with Kyle while we fueled Gladys. I looked up and saw an airplane just clearing the trees, then landing on the runway at an angle and continuing into the grass before stopping in about thirty feet. It was all a little too quiet for my taste, so they headed out to see what had happened.

By all accounts, this could have easily been a fatal crash. But he did everything right, following his training, and he managed to land mostly safe at an airport. I am just blown away at what this guy was able to accomplish. I got to talk to him later and shake his hand while he waited for his flight instructor to arrive to pick him up. He was pretty shaken up. I would have been bawling like a baby.


Phew. Where was I? Right about now, I think I should state that I’m very glad that Gladys has two properly-running engines on our downwind leg into Bremerton.


I can’t imagine how eerie this view would be with the total silence of no engines! He was much lower…and above the trees to the left before the airport begins. Yikes!

The fifty-foot FAA tree really does exist, guys!


We made it down safely. That’s how we roll. In fact, the excitement of the engine failure would happen later in the day when we got back from lunch.

Speaking of lunch, I haven’t eaten here forever! Can you tell where it is from the glass?


How about now? Where did I eat lunch?


I just hope that a salad cancels out breadsticks.


And also fettuccine alfredo. Salads work all miracles like that, right?

Needless to say, lunch was pretty good. I try to avoid chains if I can eat somewhere cool and new, but there was no escaping a chain today while we waited six hours for our next flights of the day. “Flights” is plural. We still have three to go tonight!


When we got back, all of the engine-loss excitement happened. Here is the airplane after they towed it back from the grass. Can you believe it is one piece?! He did such a great job! That flight instructor should be congratulated, too!


So, with so much excitement in such a short span of time, no one expected another airplane to run off the runway! Can you see his yellow wing in the distance? He had a rough landing, got caught by a little wind gust, and his home-built and light-weight airplane just toppled over into the ditch. The whole thing weighs less than seven-hundred pounds.

This happens twice in one day?!

It was a little more serious. The fire truck and ambulance were called from town, and the airplane was left in the ditch for the proper authorities to take a look. I just couldn’t believe that so much could happen in just a short period of time. In Bremerton!

Just so you don’t get scared about airplanes, it was completely preventable. Everything that our first emergency guy did right, this second guy did wrong.

You are safe in airliners, so don’t you worry!

But private jets are a way cooler way to get around, so maybe you should look into that.


We decided to get out of there before anything else happened. Our passengers arrived around 9:00 PM, and we were on our way!

We had a few stops to make before we would be done for the night. First, a quick hop back to Coeur d’Alene to drop off a passenger.


And we had such a beautiful sunset to enjoy as we climbed. It was only about forty minutes to the northern end of Ideeho. I stifled a few yawns.


And I got to see Seattle way in the distance all lit up at night. I need to get a little closer next time.


We didn’t even shut down an engine to let this poor guy out. I just want to tell you right here and now how wonderful the soundproofing is on this Phenom 300. When we opened that door to let him out, with both engines still running, it was louuuuuudddd!

Soon we were airborne and back on our way south. Goodbye, Coeur d’Alene!


We were headed  home! After two weeks straight of being on the road, I was going to sleep in my own bed!


We landed at Scottsdale around 12:30 AM and dropped off two more people. Then, as much as I hate to admit it, we fired up the engines again for a twenty-minute hop down to Mesa-Gateway Airport for some scheduled maintenance.


We were going to be home for a whole two days before our next adventure, so maintenance had to make it quick! Hi, Willy Gateway! This used to be Williams Air Force Base and trained a ton of pilots during World War II.


We parked next to the new Citation Ten. Isn’t she a beauty?! They are still flight testing these guys, so it was a treat to see one out in the real world. The Ten…now with winglets!


It was almost two o’clock now, so I was pretty happy to be on the ground. We had to wrestle a rental car away from a computer before we could leave the airport facility. I was going to drive allllllll the way back to Scottsdale to get my car tonight and then drive back to my house, but I decided that falling asleep and crashing on the freeway wouldn’t be good for anyone.

So I drove the rental car home and crawled into bed next to my sweet Hubby around 3:00 AM. Two weeks is too long to leave that man without food! I think that pan of brownies may have saved his life.

It was a long day…probably the longest I’ve had with this job yet. I certainly saw more airports today than I have since starting with this new company. But I was so happy during all of our flights. I really feel blessed that I have such a wonderful job, with such wonderful people.

I’ve got two days to fatten Hubby up before I am gone again. Can it be done?!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Day Like the Olden Days – Part One


After a few days recuperating in a hotel from our last flight, it was time to hit the road again, Jack.

Today would be the busiest I’ve had with this job. But in my last job, it would have been a typical day. I’m so glad that I have this new job to love and squeeze and call George.


This giant was on the ramp when we left. Believe it or not, but one time this airplane landed here from San Diego. And someone realized that they had forgotten a few dogs back at home. So the pilots got back in the airplane, flew back to San Diego, and returned several hours later with two dogs.

True story.


Luckily, I work for sane people. Who remember to bring their dogs, when necessary.


Today is Saturday, and just this past Monday we dropped people off in Provo for the week. Now it’s time to go pick them up. It is just one of our six airports that we will visit today. I think that’s a record for my new job.


Since Bremerton doesn’t have a tower, we got our IFR clearance from Seattle Center on the ground before announcing to the local traffic that we were departing Runway 19. Luckily, because of the low weather, we didn’t have anyone competing for attention in the traffic pattern today.


And we were soon above the clouds-that-I-love and on our way southeast to Provo.


And, like on Monday, we got killer climb performance out of Gladys. It looks like she was as anxious to get back in the skies as me! It always feels great to start the day with a flight!


An eerie cloud hung over the top of Mount St. Helens once again. Maybe it’s not a normal cloud but an imminent warning for the next time she’s gonna blow?


We passed several town in Ideeho, which I love. This is Boise. Hi, Boise!


But the Jeppesen charts on the iPad (our backup for the electronic charts that Gladys displays) showed us our route. We had to be centered in over Salt Lake traffic, just like on Monday, so they brought us in near Brigham City, then Ogden, then over Salt Lake International before we continued south towards Provo.


Isn’t modern-day farming incredible? I love peering out the window to see all of these crops in action. I come from farming on both sides of my family, so maybe this is just my family talking here.


And soon we were over the Great Salt Lake near Ogden.


Here is Hill Air Force Base, not to be confused with Ogden Municipal Airport just four miles away. I guess lots of people accidentally land at Hill, thinking that it is Ogden. But, for some unknown reason, they are greeted by soldiers with machine guns.

Civilians can’t land at military air bases unless it’s an emergency. And then, they will still be greeted by soldiers with machine guns.

Moral of the story: land at the correct airport.


This is actually a picture of the practice area in which I flew as a student pilot out of Salt Lake International Airport so many years weeks ago. Salt Lake airspace is so busy, so they would kick us out either to the west towards Tooele, or to the north towards Ogden.

Who knows how many turns-around-a-point I’ve done over these fields!


The Great Salt Lake is prettier from a distance. Perhaps because it doesn’t look quite as low from here.


Then we flew directly over SLC on our way south towards Provo. We were high enough to stay out of both the arrivals and departures. Which is good. Airplanes meeting other airplanes in the sky rarely turns out well.


And here we are leaving the Salt Lake valley to enter Utah valley by Utah Lake. It still looks a little green, huh?


OK, a lot green.


We lined up for the visual to Runway 13 then backed it up with the ILS. I love that Provo has a control tower to help us down!


And soon we were landing and taxiing to the ramp at TacAir. Less than a week ago, my family was here waiting for me! How fun!


We passed this pretty Gulfstream IV on the ramp, owned by NetJets. My goodness. Isn’t that a beautiful airplane?


And we made it! Welcome to Provo! Some passengers rode down with us to help pick up the awaiting ones. We literally got fuel and were on our way back to Bremerton.

I’ll share the rest of the day tomorrow. It’s a doozy!

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