Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Yep, I like a good thunderstorm. Mainly when I'm watching one from the front porch. It isn't so fun flying a small plane through them, which is why I'm back to sitting on the porch watching the clouds build.

I've been in North Carolina for the weekend, relaxing with friends, finally having taken a few deserved days off. I run a flight school in Virginia, and had found myself working 12 hours a day, every day, for weeks at a time. It was time for a break. So I borrowed one of the 2-seat training planes, and took off for NC. Even a small plane like that can get places much faster than a car, so instead of a 4 1/2 hour drive, I flew 90 minutes.

Running a flight school is a lot of work, but I can't imagine not doing it now. I spent enough time at jobs I hated, to know how good a life I have. Not only a fun job, but being able to borrow state-of-the-art aircraft at only the cost of fuel, makes personal travel a real joy. We have three airplanes and 4 helicopters in the school at this point. The helicopters are Robinson R22's and R44's, truly excellent aircraft. The airplanes are two Diamond DA20's, each with the Garmin GNS430, and a DA40 with a G1000 glass cockpit, and KAP140 autopilot. Flying that one really feels like cheating. Instrument flight is not supposed to be that easy.

The whole concept of flying new aircraft was foreign to me only a year ago. When I trained for my licenses, and in my early days of teaching, I almost never flew an aircraft that was less than 30 years old. Suddenly, I was connected to people that were buying brand new planes, and my perspective changed. The aircraft I borrowed this weekend is only 6 months old.

So back to why I'm sitting on the porch instead of flying. I had planned to return to Virginia this morning, but low clouds and low visibility conspired to keep me here. Had I borrowed the 4-seat glass cockpit plane, this would have been no problem, but the 2-seater is visual flight rules only. I'm not afraid of marginal flying conditions; my experiences run the gamut, from icing conditions, to severe thunderstorms- all kinds of legitimate potential emergencies. However, those experiences have taught me that no schedule is important enough to me to justify unnecessary risks. Especially on a personal flight. I'm in no hurry.

So, when the clouds began to break up, and cumulonimbus clouds started to take their place, I decided I would have a much more relaxing flight if I simply waited til tomorrow morning. It is a shame, I had a full day scheduled today. But the most important concept in all of aviation is proper decision-making, and if I fail to do it myself, then my students would fail to learn it for themselves.

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