Pressure's Off

Posted December 2010

It seems like I've been forever prefacing my with comments about my high-stress work schedule.  It's been hard for several years.  Real awful this fall, with a couple of 3-week patches with no breaks at all... working both Saturdays and Sundays, and late most days.

It's almost amazing to realize I don't have to start my postings that way, anymore.  Task completed, fully successful, and even what Drew might refer to as a "gong."  Even more important, I've had a couple of weekends off in a row.

My last flight before the job completed was a bit grim.  I'd been working on a Sunday, and when I'd gone in, the weather seemed half-decent.  I knocked off early and headed to the airport.  By then, though, some rather grim clouds had come by.  As I taxied out, a few light drops sprinkled the windshield.

"Eh, just get up and do a quick tour around the neighborhood."  But climbing out, I saw a set up rain shadows to windward.  Clear skies to the North...I could see downtown Seattle...but to the south, just a series of showers.

We crossed into rain just a mile south of the airport.  "Eh, just get back in the pattern and shoot some landings."  But turning final, the windshield misted into opacity.  "Bag this," I said, and made it a full stop.  A big 12 minutes of flight time.

The next weekend was a lot better.  It was a bit cool, about 45 degrees.  That's on the ragged edge of wearing a ski mask and long johns, but I figured I didnt' need them with my typical 45-minute flight.  I did the usual scouting run, circling an co-worker's house, checking out the local RC flying field, snooping around some of the local grass strips, and heading home for some touch-and-goes.

"Aren't you COLD?" asked a voice on the radio.  It was my buddy Mike, in his Long-EZ.

Stock answer #3:  "Physical comfort is highly over-rated."

What was fun was after landing.  I was talking to a buddy around the hangar when a new Light Sport airplane taxied by.  I hopped in the car to follow him back to his tiedown spot.  It's pretty slick...his plane is derived from the Avid Flyer, and he has a big enclosed trailer on his tiedown.  He folds the wing and stores it in the trailer, spending $60 a month for a tiedown rather then $200 for a hangar.

Anyway, I met him just as he climbed out of his airplane.  He spotted my Roscoe patch, and said, "Hey, you're the guy with the Fly Baby.  I thought you'd be blue!"

He happily showed me his airplane...but what was happening AS he showed me the plane was more interesting.  He was doing a reverse strip-tease.  As we were talking, he put on a coat.  Then, a minute or two later, a stocking cap.  Then, a bit later again, a pair of gloves.

All the time I just stood there talking, with my leather jacket zipped halfway down, apparently not feeling a thing.

But when I got in the car, I turned the heater way, WAY up.  I probably feel the cold just as much as anybody, but there's a stubborn streak that just won't let me admit it.

I got my comeuppance yesterday.  We'd lost power at home during a windstorm just after midnight on Friday night.  Christmas shopping got me into some warm stores through the day, but it was a long, dark, COLD evening at home.  After crawling into bed with three layers of clothing and a hat, the power finally came back on.

But I'd gotten kind of "cold-soaked" that 23 hours.  I had trouble getting warm, even after the power had been on overnight.  The next day was half-decent, so I went flying.  I delayed quite a bit...the wind seemed kind of strong, but the windsocks at the airport (which I can see via binoculars from my house) seemed to indicate relatively light breezes.  The wind was from the east, which is worrisome around here...usually a precursor to some really strong easterly winds.

The home drome runway runs north-south, so a strong easterly wind is bad news.  One airport near here was reporting winds from 070 at 14 gusting to 28, but all the other airports were just showing five knots or so.

I took off, and pretty much regretted it.  The wind was lighter close to the ground, but really pushed hard as I climbed.  As I turned to fly down the valley, the Superunicom was issuing warnings about wind gusts and crosswinds.  I was still a bit cold, and decided to shorten my usual junket.  I heard a J-3 call the pattern, and suddenly got scared that he'd groundloop and close the airport.  There were places I could go, instead, but I was really kind of feeling cold.

I headed back to shoot some touch-and-goes.  Turning base, I realized the wind had gotten even stronger from the East.  "This'll be a full-stop, I announced."

It was a strong right-hand least favorite, since you've got to "backhand" the stick to compensate.  The gusts blew me around a bit, lifting me out of the flare and weathercocking a tad.  But I blipped the throttle, straightened out, and let it slam a bit. Ugly-looking, but I was down and under control.

Not the best day, but hopefully the winds will be better over the holidays.

Speaking of holidays, I've been wearing my leather jacket with the Roscoe patch while doing my Christmas shopping.  I've gotten several compliments from the salesladies.

Finally, did have one blast from the past today.  I got a spam email from an outfit in China...selling Sadler Radial engines.  Twenty or so years ago, when we were operating N500F in the club, a guy was developing that engine not too far from the home drome.  Pete Bowers wanted us to buy one and install it....

Anyway, enough rambling. Just glad the pressure is off, and that I've got time to fly and post a bit.....

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