Monday, February 20, 2006

New Map

Here is my new map, showing the states in which I've flown. We were hopeful to knock out Mississippi or Michigan on this trip, but it didn't work out. With any luck, this spring we will cover the remainder of the northeast.

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Quick statistics, and the latest news

I added up the distances flown finally. Straight-line distance between airports where we landed was 7,337 nautical miles (8,438 statute miles). We flew 101.9 hours. Add in some deviations, a couple airports where we overflew but didn't land, various non-straight-line routes for mountains and such, and I figure we covered just about 8,000 nautical miles (9,200 statute miles). Just a rough estimate though.

The 101.9 hours includes time spend taxiing, so adding all that up, gives an average groundspeed of 78.5 knots (90.3 miles per hour).

DC is going to get me a disk with our photos on it, so I can post those soon.

Most of my time this past week has been occupied by searching for work. I've generally needed time to evaluate situations, and our trip was good for that. No preoccupation with the actual details of instructing. That gave me the chance to really evaluate my situation. I do enjoy instructing, but I need to get away from it for now. At most, it should be only a part-time endeavor for me for a while.

So when I got back, I started sending out my resume. I don't want to be stuck in some airline job. I'm looking for charter work, or maybe some other operation that is at least a little bit different every day. I have no desire to fly to the same 5 airports every day, over and over, week after week. I need some variety.

In my mind, this week was the most critical, because I was focused on going through my local connections. Having a contact is much better than a cold-call resume, sent over email. The first job I was shooting for was flying parachute jumpers, and I had good contacts there, but I had to send my resume out during the trip west. By the time I got it done, thtey had already hired for the position. So at best, I am a backup, just in case that pilot leaves.

The other one that is most hopeful is nearby, at Bridgewater Airpark, just a few miles north of here. One of my former students knows the flight operations manager very well, and I met the guy a couple months ago. I got that resume in last week, but hadn't heard anything. I spoke to my student yesterday, and he said the guy had just been swamped, but is looking to hire for the position I mentioned in my email. Hopefully I will hear something from that. It won't pay very much, at least unless I move into a captain position. But it would be in a Beech King Air, probably the C90. And it seems to fit what I want. I would be gone across the country for three weeks at a time, and then have time here, to instruct on the side.

I sent out other resumes also, including one as far away as Grand Junction, Colorado. If nothing else, our trip west reminded me that maybe I should spend some time out west, and enjoy different scenery. I don't expect to get a reply from that one, or many others, without a contact at those companies. If this job comes through, then I can do better at selecting a future job, a year or two down the line.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Route Map

Ok, this map is certainly nothing special in terms of appearance, but it will have to do for the moment. I'll put in a little more detail on another post.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Home Again

Monday afternoon, we finally made it home. I never really had many chances to get online, except just long enough to check weather for the next leg. At the moment, I am just impressed, looking back at how much we did.

We took about 1,200 photos, so those will get added as soon as we sort through them. Today is just about relaxing, and getting back to real life. The updates will come as quickly as I can put them together.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

This looks familiar

So far on this trip, an amazing thing had been happening. No real issues with weather. That is just so strange to me. We had a half day off for high winds, but that had been it.

Yesterday that changed a little. From Boulder City, NV several days ago, we managed to fly up into Death Valley, and around the west side of the adjacent mountains, to arrive in Mojave, CA. That is where some of the flying history gets interesting. Dick Rutan is based there. From that area, so many advances come into aviation. As we sat in the restaurant eating lunch, we even saw a Long-EZ doing pattern work. I couldn't help but wonder who was in the cockpit.

After lunch that day, we cruised along south of Edwards AFB, and made landings at several airports there. We overflew Big Bear Lake, but were not about to go in. Elevation, terrain and high temperatures made that a difficult prospect, so we settled for an overflight. We ended the day in Palm Springs, CA, and had what I can only describe as the most luxury I've ever experienced in a day. Fancy hotel, fancy dinner. My dinner was only $100. Good thing I wasn't paying.

Next day brought hazy skies. We decided to head for the destination Rich and I tried for 3 years ago: Catalina Island. 26 miles across open ocean, just southwest of Los Angeles. Naturally, in a single-engine plane, about halfway across I got to thinking how the water there is as deep as 2,900 feet. But all went well. We had crossed at 8,500 feet, so we were only out of glide range of land for a few minutes. More on that later.

The end of the day was in Thermal, CA, not far southeast of Palm Springs. But what a change. Palm Springs is definitely the high-rent district of the area. They obviously spend money on watering the ground. Thermal seemed far more dusty than I expected for being only 20 miles from there. But it is also 140 feet below sea level, so that surely plays in.

We decided to get an oil change done on the plane, so we were in no big hurry there. The mechanic found what he thought to be a couple issues, and instead of heading north right away, we made a few phone calls and made the short hop 100 miles northwest to Cable Airport (KCCB), not far from Los Angeles proper.

There, was the base of a Symphony dealer, who was able to look at the plane himself. The mechanic in Thermal, as competent as he appeared to be, professed no knowledge of the Symphony, so we wanted to find someone who did.

We were given a car for the night, and a nice hotel room a few miles away in Rancho Cucomonga (?). Next morning, the dealer found a very minor issue- a broken throttle return spring- and not much else. So we were fixed and ready.

DC desperately wanted out of southern California. The prevailing attitudes there are not to his liking. We had to fly northwest, hugging the mountains as we climbed past Burbank and Van Nuys. We did finally see downtown LA in the process though. As soon as we had the altitude, we hopped over the mountains and headed north to Tehachapi. I just thought it would be an interesting view. We were only 2 miles away when we discovered that the runway was closed. So overflight was the only option. We had lunch in Bakersfield, CA. This is only a very short flight from LA, but a total reversal in attitudes. Much more to DC's liking. We ate in a small local restaurant called the Knotty Pine Cafe. Friendly atmosphere, more food than we could handle, and very much the western atmosphere.

Clouds were going to inhibit our movement north. Fresno was the next destination, but it was still covered in clouds. We started hopping around to a bunch of the little airports in the area, partly to kill time, mostly for the fun of it. 30 miles from Fresno, it was just barely visual conditions- 3 miles visibility, and 2,000 ceilings. We had to bail out from landing at one nearby airport for the clouds. Last landing was in Visalia, CA. I don't know much of anything about the place still. A whole lot of tree farms in the area. I would guess oranges, but Im not sure.

That killed off just enough more time, that Fresno was looking good. 7 miles, and no ceiling that we could climb to. But that would end the day. Everything north and west was closed off to us, and everything east required crossing 12,000 foot mountains.

This morning, I had a gut feeling we would be stuck with the weather. Turns out, the rain is farther north, and not going to be a problem. The problem is fog. Around 4am, it started cooling down enough to be an issue. By 7 I knew we were stuck a while. Now, at 9am, it is thicker, and probably staying until near lunch, if I am guessing right.

So it took us a long time to get a weather day. We were really lucky with that. I suspect the rest of the trip might not be as fortuitous, but who knows.

A few stats now: 50.7 hours flown. 51 airports visited. (48 of them new to me). 7 new states.

More to come later......