Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wow, look at that.

Nothing special, this is just my 12:12 12/12/12 post.  Thought that was cool.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It happened.

I was there.

Are you sure about that?

Old_NFO was mad as all get out. And I'm right there with him on this. This "Sales Person" was more than happy to go about infringing our rights, all the while waiting to scream 'STRAW PURCHASE,' if one of us had even so much as thought about getting the rifle for him.

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Things you think you'd never hear...

After being slobbered on by phlegmmy's puppehs...

Me: what's the technical term for being ear raped by a Chiweenie?

LawDog: 35 bucks per hour.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Do they realize...

How stupid they look. 1% reporting, and they call it for Obmama?

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Blogorado wrap up.

Everyone else is, so I thought I might as well jump on this bandwagon and it rolls flaming into the center of town....

This pretty much sums up this years blogorado for me.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

New Discovery!

I have just discovered the newest most awesomest food EVAH!!!!!

Give up?



Thursday, August 9, 2012

Trust me, I was never really gone.

Okay, aside from some stray thoughts I haven't posted here in a long time.

Trust me, I was never really gone.  Life just got really really busy for a while.  But that's soon to change, it should get even more so now.

Anyway, back in May, having had enough of Columbus and Ohio. I sought out a job in more polite climes.  I found one in Dallas fairly quickly and that's the short answer.

I'm a captain on a Falcon now.

The last month(s) I've been in indoc. training and then Flight Safety at DFW getting the type rating and then, finally, yesterday was the line check/299 checkride.  Sounds pretty simple, huh.

Not really.

The Falcon type I got is on a design that predates pretty much all of modern aviation's innovations, dark cockpit concept, ergonomics, standardization of instrumentation, etc. etc.  It was pretty much the first corporate jet on the market and as the saying goes, if you've seen one Falcon jet, you've seen one Falcon jet.

That being said, it's a very tough bird that'll take lots of abuse and aside from being underpowered (for a jet) it's really easy to fly.

Other than that, the 2 week initial type rating course that we were supposed to take at FS, turned into a 5 week exercise in hurry up and wait.  About the 3rd day of classroom of the 7 "book larnin'" days we were informed that the sim's visuals had broken and they were trying to fix it.  They'd know more soon and they would keep us updated as they learned it.  Apparently what happened was the Mylar screen that the visuals are projected onto had torn.  Well, the screen is vacuum formed to a curved frame and is kept that way by a constant vacuum action.  Then we find out that only Rockwell Collins, the original manufacturer of this screen system, had the ability to fix it, and they'd be a week getting a team together and getting down to Dallas to fix it.  So, we do our first two days of sim sitting in front of a poster on a wall pretending to flip switches and punch buttons.  Fun.

When that was finished they told us that there was a vibration that was causing the tears in the first place and they needed FAA approval to change the software to remove the vibration and fix the problem.  At this point we were going day by day as to when the sim would be back up.  The FAA being, well the FAA, it took them a week to shuffle the paperwork.


By that time, they'd found "structural faults" in the hydraulic legs the sim rode on.  These legs move the entire sim around to simulate aircraft motion.  Now, FS was telling us we'd be week by week instead of day by day.  Hey, paid time off!  Except, part of my paycheck was on hold till I'd finished my line checks.  So, basically, FS cut my pay by 1/3 for a month.

Finally, replacement parts were in, paperwork was shuffled, stamped, folded, spindled and mutilated by as many levels of bureaucracy as possible and 21 days after the last time I showed my face at the DFW training center, I was back for 7 straight days of sim sessions and my type checkride.  Which was 28 days after the training started and 14 days after it was supposed to have finished.  So, 7 days of motion sickness, H'Ray!  You see, even though the sim gets close to what you'd feel flying the actual airplane, it's still not reality and the balance portion of your ears are still telling you one thing while what's actually happening is another.

Anyway, yesterday we finished up with the checkride and I now have 3 full fledged type ratings on my pilots license. Learjet, which allows me to fly the Lear 20 series, the Lear 30 series and the Lear 55. Lr-40/45 which covers two more Lear airframes and basically means the only Lear I can't fly right now is the 60.  And the Falcon.  But I know guys who have half a dozen or more type on their licenses so 3 isn't such a big thing.

Oh, as an aside, under my license's limitations section, it now says English Proficiency.  I would never have known that being proficient in the English language would be a limitation.  I guess if you would ask the French, they'd say it was.

Of course, right after the checkride, we sped over to the airport to get our line checks and what we refer to as our 299 ride done.  Basically it was all the portions of the checkride that FS couldn't do, because they were either company specific or required to be performed in an actual airplane, not a sim.

That was fun, motion sick and all.  It basically turned yesterday into a 16 hour marathon.

On the bright side, my pay jumped by a 1/3 yesterday, so H'Ray for disposable income!

Oh! The move. That was... fun.

My friend Phlegm Fatale coordinates and schedules moves for a national freight company.  I'd used her before to move from Tulsa to Columbus and she/They were both cheap and very good at doing it.  So I contacted them for the move to Texas.  The same relocube cost me 3 times the Tulsa to Columbus price! OUCH! So, I went to UHaul to try to save some money.  The price they quoted me for buying and installing a hitch and electric connector on my Jeep, the trailer and packing boxes and materials was going to keep the move under a grand even including gas, hotels and food on the move.  Except they wont rent trailers to soft top Jeeps.  Which, if you ask me, is Jeepist on their part and we should picket them for being all jeepaphobes and jeepist.  Anyway, they would have ended up costing me half again as much as said national freight company quote for a truck, car trailer, etc. etc. so I went back to national freight company and had them do it.

You know, pretty much every line item that I budgeted for the move ended up costing about a grand more than I planned.

Part of the reason it was so much more expensive to move to Texas than to Ohio is all the jobs are down here and everyone is moving here.  So all the equipment ends up in the south.  The moving companies practically have to pay people to get their equipment up to the north.

While I'm at it, I really need to send out huge thanks to my friends in Texas for letting me couch surf while trying to find an apartment that I could afford and was within my insanely short response time of the airport. Lawdog, Phlegmmy, daniels, Desi, Thank You all so very much.

And that's pretty much what I've been up to in a nutshell for the last several weeks.  And aside from some minor stuff like internet for my apartment and buying new furniture, things are starting to settle down.  Although I still don't know if they'll give me time off for blogorado this year.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Random thought

Hamburger Helper and Tuna Helper should come with little things of hot sauce. Just sayin'.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What's wrong with whatshername

We've decided the phlegmmy has ADOP. Attention deficit OH PRETTY!
- Tolewyn

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Conversations at Manse de Phlegm

Just a snippet of a conversation we had:

LD: Yeah, you get inside his OODA loop and it screws him up.

Me to Phlegmmy: OODA Loop, that's another geek thing.

Phlegmmy:  I know what an OODA Loop is.  I've seen Willy Wonka.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bum Ammo

Last blogorado, we had problems with a can of Greek .30-06 I'd brought.  It was CMP stuff.  The 192 rounds in enbloc clips that they sell.  We had the same problem using 2 different rifles.  So, the guys in #GBC wanted to see pics to see if maybe it was bad powder from improper storage.  So, I grabbed a clip at random, pulled one of the rounds and took pics.  Here they are.

I don't see anything wrong, but then it wasn't happening with every clip, every time.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Helicopter Training.

More of the same today, pick ups, set downs, patterns and approaches, hover autorotations.

The big difference today is my phone got stolen while I was out flying.  So, I'm experiencing a little experiment in Keynesian economics.  Since my old old phone had died back in December, I had to play full price for this replacement.  So, $750 bucks there after the case and screen protector.  So, H'Ray for Apple and the case producer and the screen protector maker. They made money. So, Obmama and his Keynesian zombies are applauding.  Except... That $750 had to come from somewhere.  In this case, it's coming straight out of my helicopter training fund. 

So, boo. 

Basically, that's 2 hours of training that I can't afford to do now.  Which is that much in instruction pay out of my flight instructors pocket, that much in lost fuel sales for both my Jeep, and the helicopter. So, the airport looses out there and the .gov loose out on the lost tax revenue from everything.  That much in rental fees that the flight school looses. Then there's the mechanic at the airport, etc.  The list goes on. 

Plus the first thing I did was have both Apple and AT&T wipe that stolen phone.  So, it'll never work again.  And if they change the sim card and try to get Apple to reauthorize it, it'll come up as stolen.  Plus I had them rig it so it'll give whoever stole it a nasty rash on their face that will cause small children to scream in terror and adults to vomit at the sight of it.  So, have fun with that.

p.s. You think I'm kidding about the rash?  Guess again.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What I've been up to... More of The Grind

More of the same today.  I am seeing improvement in pick ups, hovering, and approaches.  So, H'Ray.

The one new thing today was hover autorotations. Which are interesting.

Basically, just roll the power out from a stable hover around 5 ft. then it's pedal, pause, pull.

Done right, its really a sort of non-event.  So, some day.

Monday, April 30, 2012

What I've been up to... The Grind

More of the same today.  Concentrating on stable approaches.  I say stable, which in helicopters mean a constantly changing dynamic situation.

I'm still fighting my fixed wing habits.  I consistently ending up too fast at the end. Which means I end up having too much aft cyclic which translates into having to pull too much collective and rolling in too much power at the end, which means huge amounts of pedal too.  It's all pretty ugly.

The ideal is once turning final and setting that initial back cyclic, it's a steady deceleration from 60 to the hover right over the landing spot.  Which would mean, a more gentle collective at the end when you translate from flight to hover which would help slow down the helicopter more, which would require forward cyclic to keep from stopping, keeping a more level attitude, less required collective and power and anti-torque at the end.

I'm at that point in training where it's gonna be the same stuff over and over till I can actually do it.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

What I've been up to... some more.

More of the same today.  Hover, pedal turns, hover taxi (forward and left and right), patterns.  I'm trying to tighten up the hover stuff, now more bobbling around, keep it in the 3 to 5 ft. high realm, nice walking pace, stuff like that.

Patterns, more of the same.  Trying to get that pace on approach down, more coordination on collective/throttle, cyclic/pedals.  It's getting there, but I'm still pretty loose on that stuff.

At this point, I've been introduced and demonstrated all the basic stuff.  It's just a matter of polishing up the skills.  Not anything exciting, but it's stuff I have to master.

Oh! p.s.  My instructor, the suicidal maniac, is letting me hover taxi the helicopter more and closer to the helicopter stand that the bird normally rests on.  So, either I am getting better or his life is taking a turn for the worse.  I've taken to searching the flight school office for crumpled up half written "Goodbye, Cruel World" notes.

Friday, April 27, 2012

What I've been up to.... again.

Much to the wailing of my fixed wing friends (cough, Wing, cough).  I'm continuing my helicopter training.

Nice day today.  Light winds out of the north, cool, no clouds.  Basically a beautiful day to fly. Or in the case of helicopters, make the air my bitch.

We did the usual hover work, pick ups, set downs, then we did some more flying.  Just figuring out what cruise power setting are for different airspeeds.  How to do constant airspeed climbs and descents.  Then we got back into the pattern and worked the pattern and something new, the helicopter approach.

Okay, I'm just writing this up so I'll remember it, you can skip the next paragraph if you want.

The standard approach path in helicopters is about 10 degrees. That's a bit different from a fixed wing approach.  That's usually a 3 to 3.5 degrees.  So, we were trying to turn final at about 300 ft. above ground
and at a point that puts the landing spot at that 10 degree descent path.  Then an initial slight reduction in power/collective and back on the cyclic to start the approach.  The idea being that you're doing a constant deceleration and descent to the spot.  So, all things being perfect, you start the final at 60mph (this helicopter's airspeed indicator is calibrated in mph) and you use collective to control the descent and the cyclic to control, this is the different bit, the apparent speed across the ground.  So, at 300 ft. you look like your moving at a walk, the same at 200, as 100, etc.  This means as the ground gets closer, you're going to be decelerating to keep that same apparent pace.  Seems okay, right? It's just that as a fixed wing pilot I have trained and trained and flown and flown to set up a constant descent but a constant airspeed as well.  So, all my flying life, I'm watching the runway numbers pass underneath at whatever is the landing speed of what I'm flying.  so, 30-35 in a Cessna up to 120-130 in a Lear.  So, here I am, constantly fighting my tendency to push the nose over to gain airspeed again rather than keeping the nose up and letting the airspeed bleed off. 

And that's basically it today.  Aside from a couple of beeps on the collective and the throttle, I had the controls alone the entire time.  So, I must be getting better.  I think.  maybe.... who knows...

I still think my instructor is using me in some sort of convoluted suicide/insurance scam thing.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What I've been up to.

So, the reason behind the whole contract trip from hell and missing all my friends in St. Louis is this.  I'm finally putting my money where my mouth is and getting my rotory pilots license.  My planning guess-timated that I'd need about $10,000 for my private, another 15k for my commercial and after that, basically chump change to add it to my ATP.

Why, no. It ain't cheap.

So, this week I started.  I'm driving about 90 miles one way to the flight school everyday and back.  Which is a royal pain in the ass, but I've driven longer for flight training before.  It works out to an extra 45 dollars a day in gas, but if I can find a hotel down there for that, I'll just commute once for the week from now on.

This is a bit complicated.  You see, I get 5 hard days off a month.  5 days when they can't call me and put me on a charter trip.  5 days when I don't have to be within 30 minutes of my airport. 5 days when they can't call me at 2 am to go to wherever ASAP. 5 days when I can have a beer without calling 3 people to get it okayed. So, I have to cram as much helicopter training as I can into those 5 days and then let the skills rot for a month till I can get the next 5 days off.  Anyone who's taking flying lessons can tell you, that isn't the best way to do it, but it's the way I'm stuck with.

Anyway, Monday.  First hour. Sort of a combination discovery flight, first lesson.  We went off and did the 4 basics of flying.  Climbs, turns, descents and straight and level.  All flying is basically some combination of those 4.  At least for fixed wing aircraft. We then went to a big wide empty field next to the runway and I proceeded to make myself airsick.  My instructor, great guy by the way, sets up a hover and then give me the pedals.  My only job is to maintain a heading.  Keep the nose pointed at a big white pole just outside of this acre and a half field that we're in the middle of.  Not too bad.  Then he gave me the collective, throttle and pedals.  Now, I'm supposed to maintain heading and height.  A little worse, but okay.  I'm only bouncing up and down maybe 10 ft. and swinging back and forth maybe 30 degrees. Then he says he's gonna take back the collective, throttle and pedals and he's gonna give me just the cyclic. At this point I KNOW this man is insane and suicidal.

Oh, by the way, before this he'd just say, "Okay, you take the pedals now and hold heading.", or, "Take the collective too now."

Now he's like, "Okay, the cyclic is yours in three... two... one..." Right about the time he got to 'two', he had me wondering what the hell I was in for.

The first time, for about the first 3 seconds everything was fine.  Then it went... wonky.  You see the rotor on a helicopter is about the only thing that's really flying, everything else is just hanging underneath like a pendulum. And that's exactly how it went after those three seconds. I was making too large a control inputs and the lag in the pendulum that is the 'airframe' of the helicopter just got worse and worse.  So, he'd take the controls back, re stabilize, or as I was referring to it at this point, performing his voodoo/black magic on the infernal machine, and then, "Okay, take the cyclic in three... two... (for the love of god, I want to live, NO) one..." and we do it all over again.  This goes on for a good half hour. At the end of which, I'm turning green, trying to get as much air to blow across my face as I can and concentrating on non-throwup-y thoughts. 

End of my first lesson.  Looking back, I suppose each time he gave me the controls, the grace period between fine and wonky got a little longer.

Second lesson. We immediately hop over to that field and he proceeds to give me the pedals, then the collective/throttle, the the bastard give me ALL of them. pedals, collective, throttle and cyclic. and I try to hover.  I will say I managed to hover... in a field a good acre and a half on a side.  Then he has me do set downs, pick ups to hover and pedal turns.  Again, I managed to stay inside that acre and a half.  And I didn't get airsick.  All in all a good day. But, I'm still thinking of reporting my instructor to the mental health people at the local hospital.  He needs to be on a 72 hour suicide watch at the very least.

Third lesson. We discuss some of the forces acting on the helicopter and the rotor. Different types of rotors and some other stuff out of the FAA's FAA-H-8083-21 Rotorcraft Flying Handbook.  Part of me is thinking he's trying to distract me from my impending doom.

Part of me is right.

Today, he gets the helicopter off of the trailer/pad and then gives me the controls and tells me to hover taxi over to the compass rose.  This is a 15 ft. circle with the cardinal compass points painted on it.  It's a way for airplanes to swing their compasses and make sure they're accurate.

I get it there in mostly a straight line and then we do pick ups, 120 degree pedal turns and let downs for 45 minutes. All while trying to stay inside this 15ft. circle.  He basically made me stay on the controls alone the entire time.

Honestly. I figured we'd go from an acre and a half field, to an acre to 3/4 of an acre... you know, work me down to something less than a football field in nice easy steps.  Nope.

And to be honest.  My hovering skills are getting better.  As long as I remember to keep my control inputs small, smooth, and relatively slow, I can hover inside a 15ft circle and within 3 to 5 ft. of the ground.  Then we went out and looked at power/collective settings for 60 kt cruise, 80 kt cruise, and climbs and descents at both air speeds as well.  Then did an approach back to the airport to a spot landing, then he hovered over to the trailer and end of lesson.  I still think he's suicidal and I'm pretty sure now that I can take the helicopter with me when I crash, rather than somehow killing myself as I walk up to the machine.

If the weather holds, I'll have 2 more lessons this week before it's back to work for me.

By the way, the place I'm training at, Vertical Aviation in Lebanon, OH, uses Enstrom F28's for training.  The big difference between Enstroms and the more common Robinsons or Hughes 300's is no governor.  You see, Robinsons and Hughes both have engine governors that keep the engine rpm's in the green for any given collective setting.  Not the Enstroms.  You change collective, you adjust throttle, and vice verse. You move the pedals, you adjust the throttle, you move the collective and vice verse.  You move the cyclic... well, you get the idea. So, I actually set out and made learning helicopters harder than I could have.

Yes, I'm kicking myself over that. No, I don't need your help there.

Actually, I did that on purpose. I figured if I can learn to fly helicopters without the governors. Actually manipulating 4 controls to fly rather than just 3, I should be a better pilot in the end.  At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Anyway, so far, 3 hours of training, so good. Another 30 or 35 hours to go. I'll post updates as I fly. 

Oh, and as for the question, why am I learning to fly helicopters?  Well aside from the obvious coming zombie apocalypse.  It's just plain old fun.

A Day in the Life of a Charter Pilot, or Repo Wrap Up

Okay, finally found how to get the old interface back.  Yeah, blogger is free and you get what you pay for.  Remember when free software was unsupported and would stay the same, never changing.  Now, I guess free means, "lets fuck with it till it pisses everybody off."

Anyway, as promised, my contract trip wrap up.

First off, the plan was originally, this:
Get to India on Thursday, spend the day and night in the hotel and get an easy start around midday Friday.  There were 7 planned stops. Kolkata to Fujairah, then to Luxor, then Majorca, then Santa Maria, St. John's Bay, Green Bay, WI, and finally Grand Junction Co.  With planned overnights in Majorca with friends and good seafood, and possibly St. John's Bay to rest up after the crossing.  The ferry company, of course arranged handlers, factors, landing permissions, fuel contracts and everything in all these places before hand.  It was, as contracts go, an easy show up, fly the plane, go home situation. 5 days, Wednesday to Sunday. Easy.

But as many military commanders will tell you, a plan never survives contact with the enemy.  The enemy in this case is Bureaucracy, with a capital B.

First, it suddenly became a "DO IT NOW!" situation.  So, instead of mailing my Indian visa paperwork in to the consulate and getting them back 3 to 5 business days later by mail, I found myself on an airline to New York on Tuesday at OMG in the morning to hand walk them through the agency that India outsourced their Visa process to. I had done the online stuff then night before and had everything printed out and ready to go in a nice neat folder sitting by the door, so I wouldn't forget it in the morning. You see where this is going, don't you.

Okay, on a side note, seriously, India has outsourced it Visa application department to a company with 4 offices around the country in the US.  India is where WE outsource everything to! How recursive do we need to get?

I realize I've forgotten my all important paperwork and 2x2 passport sized photos in my nice neat folder by the door where I wouldn't forget it just after checking in at the ticket counter, but not before going through security theater.

I have an hour till the plane closes its doors and leaves.  My car is on the other side of the airport at the FBO where my plane is. (Hey, I park free there.)  So, I run back out to the White-zone-is-for-loading-and-unloading-only. Grab a cab, through the guy in there out, in a panicked voice explain to the driver that I have to get home and back to the airport in basically 20 minutes. We did it in 24.  I cleared security theater in 15 and I was NOT the last person on the airplane.  But not by a lot.

Seeing as how there were no guarantees that the visa would be issued, but it usually was, it was a fretful day, to say the least.  But at 5:30, they called my name and handed me back my passport with a freshly minted 6 month tourist visa to India.  Big BIG Kudos to the people who work at their NY office.  These guys and gals from the security guard at the street door to the process clerks to the managers made this process as smooth and painless as possible.  You guys RAWKED.

Then it's run back to the airport, grab a flight to Chicago, because that's where my Air India flight is leaving from on Wednesday.

End Day One.

Day Two starts with me meeting up with Vincent, the lead contractor on this ferry at the hotel.  We finish some paperwork, make sure everything is packed and hop the shuttle to the airport with plenty of time.  At which point I realize I've left my phone at the hotel.  No big deal.  We planned on 2 hours to clear Security Theater, so Vin gets off at the international terminal and I just ride the shuttle around back to the hotel and there's my phone at the front desk. 

Thank you thank you thank you.  You don't realize how much of your life is on your phone till you lose it.

I get back on the next shuttle to the airport and call Vin to tell him I have my phone and the day's panic is over.  At which point Vin tells me he's left his visa back at home in Kansas.  You see, his visa is in his OLD passport. He remembered his NEW passport.

Airlines will not let you one their airplane without a visa.  They're liable for HUGE fines and sundry if they do, not to mention the sundries that the foreign country has waiting for you.

No way around it, his visa will get to him no sooner than Thursday.  And since international flights tend to run once a day.  He won't be able to get to India before Friday.  We decide I'll go ahead and go over the airplane and books to make sure there isn't anything that will keep us from launching as soon as Vin gets there.  So, off I go.

I will not get into the flight.  Anybody who's flown internationally on any airline knows what it's like.  Everybody else just couldn't understand.

I land in Delhi around three-ish, India time, with an expected 7pm flight to Kolkata.  Of course the Kolkata flight is late, by 2 hours. And I should have known that was the norm, not the exception.

By the way, when and why did they change the name of Calcutta to Kolkata?

I meet my factor at the airport and he gets me to my hotel with no problems.  By the way, I have to send out electronic Kudos to Dipankar, my factor, Swissotel Kolkata and it's staff.  These guys made the stay as easy and painless as possible.  Are you getting that painless was becoming the goal of this trip?

Anyway, after much shuffling, hemming, hawing and a couple of sticky fingers I finally got a pass to get onto the airport to inspect the airplane, logbooks and paperwork.  Normally, India won't let crews onto the airport till 2 hours prior to flight.  This wasn't going to do, since I needed to be there early enough to get whatever passed for a maintenance facility to fix anything I found wrong.  They coughed up the pass about 4 pm local. Luckily, the maintenance guys were there till 5.

All this time, Vin is either flying to Delhi or waiting on his Kolkata connection.

The airplane was, with some minor and one major exception, immaculate.  I got in contact with the old captain on the plane. (He's in Florida now) and He explained why that was.  Basically, he wouldn't let anyone in Kolkata touch the thing. All maintenance was done at Bombardier's facility in Delhi by factory mechanics and engineers. H'Ray for first world maintenance!  The minor exceptions were your basic electronic ghosts and all airplanes seem to have, they were know, were trying to be traced and weren't going to keep the airplane from flying.

Ah, but the major exception...

You see, this was a repossession on a Lr-40XR.  And we were told that the XR models all had the larger fuel tanks.  The original 40's had a max fuel load of 5375lbs.  This is enough for 3 and a half hours with reserve.  An option for a larger 6060lb fuel tank was introduced with the BR models.  This works out to a 4.5 hour range with reserve.  And we'd done all our leg calculations with that 4.5 hour range in mind.  But, whoever originally spec'd this airplane out must have thought that 3.5 hours will get you anywhere in India comfortably.  There's no need for a larger tank.  That sound you hear was the original plan finally dying.

Even climbing as high as possible and using most economical long range cruise there were gonna be at least 3 legs of the original plan that would have required an hour of glider time. Jets suck as gliders.  I mean they're better than a backpack with an anvil, just ask Wiley E. Coyote.  But still.

So, where are we? Oh yeah, the airplane doesn't have the range, Vin is stuck in Delhi waiting on a flight that's gonna be at least 2 hours late, our overflight clearances are all for Friday and we're rapidly running out of Fridayness.

I do what I can.  I make sure the airplane is fueled. I play loose and fast with Friday and get our flight plans pushed back to 23:55 India time. (Still technically Friday). And I get power on the plane and make sure all the lights light and bells bell and whistles whistle.  Gotta love glass cockpits. I also get as much of the bribery as I can out of the way with what money Vin gave me for that.  The rest will just have to wait for Vin, who gets into Kolkata at 23:30.

I think we finally took off at 1954Z, that's 0124 local. India is +5.5 hour from GMT.  Right?

Now the hard part.  You see the first of those hour glider legs was this first one to Fujairah, UAE. We are not gonna do it.  Scratch scratch, mumble mumble, shuffle shuffle and we decide that as soon as we clear Indian airspace we're gonna call and make a technical stop in Karachi, Pakistan.

Of course we haven't arranged prior permission to do so.  But hey, it's a technical stop.  That's like a Get Out of Jail Free card, isn't it? Right? Guys?!?

We land, they have us follow the follow-me jeep to an appropriately remote and foreboding customs pad and they drop off a guard and take Vin to the airport authorities to arrange fuel and clearances to continue.

The guard was a good guy.  He has very little English, and I have absolutely no Farsi or Arabic or Urdu (thank you google).  So, we discussed the philosophical import of the current global climate orbiting around the international impact of the information super highway and way to improve X25 packet transmissions.

Seriously, we talked families and life.

Aside from a 15 minute period where he went off to do his morning prayers, we hung out at the airplane and watched the sun finally rise.  And yes, he is Muslim and no, he wasn't trying to blow me up or chop my head off.  Which sort of lends credence to all Muslims are not fanatic jihadist theories.

Fuel arrived after a while and Vin came back a while after that.  Our middle eastern handlers in UAE finally contacted someone in Pakistan to act as our factor and all the necessary paperwork was fill out, stamped, folded, spindled and mutilated.

We landed in Karachi at 2312Z and finally took off at 0202Z.  By the by, we landed there after a 3 hour and 17  minute flight with 1200lbs of fuel left on board.  That's 45 minutes of fuel if you squint just right, but not too hard.

Karachi to Fujairah was easy, 1 hour 45 minutes.  Refuel, barely on the ground an hour and off again to Luxor. 

By this point we KNOW we won't make our original fuel stops so we've rerouted from Luxor to Crete to Luxembourg to Keflavik to Goose Bay, then back on plan.

Fujairah to Luxor is a 3:31 flight, Luxor to Crete is 2:10, Crete to Luxembourg is 3:02. We finally landed in Luxembourg at 1537Z which I think was 5:37pm local.  I think Lux is +2, but it might be +1.  It's all sort of fuzzy at this point.  We crawl to the hotel, shower, change, get to the bar for a beer or two and then bed.  I was spent, and I'd burned through 5 of my 6, 5 hour energy shots.  I remember thinking as my head hit the pillow, "I wonder if I'll be abzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"

By they way, all this westward flying meant we were actually sort of making our days longer.  Aside from the first leg, all the flying was done in daylight.  And we ended up with a 28 hour Saturday.

Sunday was supposed to be painless.

We took off from Lux at 0558Z, which I think is either 7am or 8am. local.  Three hours, nineteen minutes later we landed at Keflavik, Iceland 20 minutes after we took off, local time. Quick hour on the ground and 3:16 to Goose Bay, Canada.  At which point we find out that whoever was supposed to arrange Customs at Green Bay and forgot to make the phone call and we weren't gonna be able to fly into the US.  We make some frantic phone calls and on a SUNDAY, customs get someone to Bangor, ME for us with literally zero notice. 

Yes, I am impressed.

No big deal, instead of Green Bay, we clear in Bangor. Hour and a half flight to Bangor, Custom guy inspects us, and our paperwork with a Geiger Counter, I swear to ghu, and 2 hours later were in the US flying to Akron, OH for fuel and then Grand Junction, CO. 1:44 to Akron, 3:17 to Grand Junction.  We landed in Grand Junction 10 minutes late.  From the ORIGINAL plan.  We'd said we'd get the airplane there by 5:30 Sunday, that was with 3 days to fly and 5 days total road days.  Instead, we had 2 days to fly and we still did it.  We got into Grand Junction at 2339Z which is 5:39pm local.  Of course we were zombified.

The hardest part of the entire trip was Monday's airlining back to home. 3 legs, 2 hubs and 12 hours in airports.  I really hate airlines.

Here are some pics snapped from my crappy phone camera:

This is all I saw of Dehli, India

The airplane and our handler in Fujairah, UAE.

These next two are the glaciers in Iceland.  I think we were either at 47,000 ft. or 51,000 ft.

This is on approach in to Keflavik. The Bahamas of Iceland.

Goose Bay.  That's just a pile of snow behind the FBO there.  Did I mention that this was mid-April?

Finally, the airplane on the ramp in Grand Junction.

And the view out my window at the hotel in Grand Junction.  Seriously, I could live there.  Love the country, nice folks, no oxygen though.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Apparently, blogger no longer supports IExplorer. I'm running version 9. This is why I haven't posted a trip summary yet. Blogger tells me I have to use chrome.

So, what blog host does everyone recommend? Because, I'll be moving from blogger as soon as I find one.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Day in the Life of and Nothing is Going Right.


Turns out the airplane doesn't have the long range tanks that we thought it did.   Which mean that half the planned legs were about 60 minutes too long.  Which wouldn't be a problem, except for the whole glider that used to be a jet thing.

The original plan became, Kolkata to Karachi, Pakistan. 3 hours clearing all the paperwork there, then flying on to Fajairah, an hour there. Then Luxor, Egypt.  Then Crete, and finally Luxembourg.  Worked out to about a dozen hours of flying and nearly 36 hours awake.  The weird bit is, since we were moving westward as fast as we could, Saturday April 14th, 2012 has lasted nearly 30 hours.

Tomorrow should see us and the airplane back in the states and over to the inspector for inspections, paint and repair.

So much fun, so little time.

Other things that have gone wrong with this trip.
I nearly lost my iPhone twice now.
The guy I'm flying the plane back lost his Indian Visa and ended up a day behind me.
Just about every airport we've stopped in has tried to delay us or throw us in jail.
Route clearances aren't, fuel releases haven't.
The winds have conspired against us to ensure the worst possible head winds
And tomorrow we go trans-Atlantic!

My eyes are so tired, the double images I'm seeing hurt.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Charter Pilot.

It's a pretty common title I use for these posts, I know.  But, it fits and it implies a little bit of the resignation to this life and the excitement too.

Today, I'm in Kolkata.  Formerly know as Calcutta. In India.  And when and why did they change the name anyway?  Kolkata used to be Calcutta. Mumbai used to be Bombay.  Which reminds me is Bombay Gin now Mumbai Gin?

I got in late yesterday after nearly 26 hours in airports.  I hate airlines, but it was that or several weeks on a boat.  Anyway, got in really late, like close to midnight, India time. We're picking up a Lr-40 and flying it back to the states.  It's a 4 year old Lr-40XR that's lease has run out here.

So, we fly it back. 

We were going to take the eastward route through Taiwan, Japan, Siberia, Alaska and down, but China wouldn't give us overflight privileges out of Taiwan, so it's the westward route for us. I was really hoping to circle the globe on this contract, but instead I get half way around and turn around and fly the same half back.

Right now, we're planning on Kolkata to Fujairah to Luxor to Majorca to Santa Maria to St. John's Bay to the states, but we may take the northern route across the Atlantic through Shannon and Reykjavik.  We'll see what the jet stream is doing first.  We're also picking routes to avoid airspaces like Iran's and as much of the more turbulent parts of the middle east as possible.

All this means that I'm going to miss all my friends in St,. Louis.  I really wish I could've been there to see everyone, but these days making money has to take priority. Y'all have fun this weekend and I'll be thinking of y'all.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


So, a while back a buddy of mine, Spear, and I got to talking about Bug out Bags and what would make good 24, 72 and longer bags.  His idea was to make the 24 hour one a molle vest. Which was an excellent idea by the way.  You'll probably never get separated from it, etc. etc. 

Anyway.  I found a great molle vest at a gun show and he said to pick one up for him.  So I did.  I thought it was important that he be able to identify himself too, so I got a chest patch for it.  Just like the police and other LEO's use.

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Banner Day

As some of you might know, and more of you may have guessed, flying charter is really just a sort of taxi service. 99.9% of the passengers are your basic mix of humanity.  No worse or better than everyone else out there.  No one really any more memorable than the last.

It's that 0.1% that make my day.

Today gave me one of those memorable personages.  No, it's wasn't a TV or movie star.  I haven't flown one yet who'd I'd consider of the caliber of Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart or Humphrey Bogart.  And these people who are famous for being famous just baffle me.  But they seem to be able to support those half hour "entertainment" shows, so who am I to understand it.

Today, I flew a man that personally had a hand in a large chunk of the major political decisions of the US from the 60's through to today. 

Today I flew a man that escaped Nazi Germany with his parents only to serve in the Army from the Battle of the Bulge through to hunting down Nazi's in post WW2 Germany.

Today I flew a man that opened up China, defined d├ętente. and was a proponent of Realpolitik.

Today I flew the man that was the National Security Advisor under Nixon and the Chief of Staff under Nixon and Ford.

Yes, he's a controversial figure. Yes, many may disagree with his decisions and recommendations while in the White House. 

But you have to acknowledge that this man has had a major affect on countries and the lives of people all over the planet. Not many people, even those in DC currently, can say that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Reminiscing over childhood.

I think I finally figured out why I like the show How It's Made so much.

Don't get me wrong, the show is about as exciting as watching paint dry.  No, scratch that. The show makes you wish you could be watching paint dry.

But, remember Mr. Roger's Neighborhood on PBS.

He used to show little vignette's of crayons or something going through the manufacturing process. 

So, How It's Made brings back memories of being curled up on the couch, in my pajamas, with a cup of hot cocoa, watching Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.

Ahh, the salad days of college.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pass it forward.

Saw this on Old_NFO's blog today and couldn't agree more with the sentiment.  While, yes we do have the right to free speech in this country.  It's not about you, it's about the millions of us who have served and the thousands and thousands who have paid the ultimate price for your right.  In short, its about the country we are proud to live in.

The National Anthem.

(exert below)

This should go up with Jennifer's Dance Monkey Dance.

“So, with all the kindness I can muster, I give this one piece of advice to the next pop star who is asked to sing the national anthem at a sporting event: save the vocal gymnastics and the physical gyrations for your concerts. Just sing this song the way you were taught to sing it in kindergarten — straight up, no styling. Sing it with the constant awareness that there are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines watching you from bases and outposts all over the world. Don’t make them cringe with your self-centered ego gratification. Sing it as if you are standing before a row of 86-year-old WWII vets wearing their Purple Hearts, Silver Stars and flag pins on their cardigans and you want them to be proud of you for honoring them and the country they love — not because you want them to think you are a superstar musician. They could see that from the costumes, the makeup and the entourages. Sing “The Star Spangled Banner” with the courtesy and humility that tells the audience that it is about America , not you.”

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Random Musing.

Everybody has mile posts in their life.  Moments when, for better or worse, their life is never quite the same again.  Times, when recalled, a person can point to and say, "This changed my life."

One of those important moments is when you realize you can buy and cook bacon anytime you want.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Piston AR Build Update.

Just some minor things to finally finish up the AR I previously posted about.

I added an ambidextrous safety to it. Just a no name brand.  But it fits well and operates like it should.

I installed the aluminum striker plate for the UBR stock, making that much heavier.  Like it wasn't already.  And why the striker plate.  Why not.  Again, this build was about "because I can" not for any real reasons.

I also finally got the front sling mount.. mounted.  And with the MS3 sling. I finally have a reliable way to go from single point sling to two point.

A few notes on its performance so far.  I've put a couple of thousand rounds through it, mostly brass but some lacquer coated steel stuff.  Haven't cleaned it yet. It's still functioning flawlessly.  The Trijicon ACOG has held its zero from the day I zeroed it in.  All in all, I'm really impressed with this rifle.  I think I'll keep it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Just... Unbelievable.

It has really been 1000 days since "our" government has passed a budget. That's 3 years. Which is the biggest F. U. congress gets away with. Rather than having to shut down till a budget is passed, they get to automatically increase it without even a how do you do from the people they're taking the money from.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, January 16, 2012

Life of a charter pilot...

(Yes, I know that title gets used a lot in my blog.)

My day.
Times in Eastern.

1:30 am.  Phone call from dispatch, possible ASAP pop up air ambulance trip.  Will know for sure by 3 am. Will call by then.  Just go back to sleep.

Yeah, right....

3:30-3:45 am.  Finally fall back asleep.  No phone call.

7:30  ASAP pop up trip, Home to Dayton, pick up, Peoria IL, drop. Come home. Promise you'll be back by 1:30.

Yeah, right.
Times in Central. from here on.

10:30  Land in Peoria, see passenger off.  Get call from dispatch.  Wait there to see if they can sell the airplane on a trip headed back towards home.  Will call one way or another in 2 hours.  This I foresaw.

Yeah, 2 hours, right.

2 pm. Call Dispatch, Ask why they haven't called.  Told to wait while they make a call to see what's going on.

2:30 Call Dispatch.  Told we could have launched for home "anytime".  Pay FBO for forehead shaped hole in wall.

106 knot tail wind, shaves 15 minutes off of flight.

Times back in Eastern.

4:15 pm.  Land back home.  tremors from caffeine make filling out logs... difficult...

5:15 Clear airport finally, Airplane cleaned, restocked, reset, Paperwork filled, filed and mutilated.

How was your day?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Train people! TRAIN!

This article was posted to GBC tonight:

Collier judge upholds 'Stand Your Ground' stabbing death defense in teen's bus stop bullying.

What I'm about to rant... about... has very little to do with the actual article and a whole lot to do with idiots that post in the comments.

One of the comments that shall remain nameless to protect his idiocy said, "See, that's the problem. Having never been in the situation of fighting for my life, I don't know how I'd react to that stress..."


Listen, few of us have been in that situation.  That's why we "game" it out.  We think about that situation, map out strategies, actions, reactions, discuss the plans with the wife, girlfriend, Rover the dog, whoever.  Then we go to a quality range, either take a class, talk to, or hire a reputable instructor.  See what works, what's been done before, what they recommend. Then we go back re-imagine the scenario, remap the strategies, actions, reactions and plans and then re-discuss what we're gonna do and what we'd like anyone with us to do to either help or stay out of harms way during the situation.

And, for fucks sake, if you've gotten your concealed carry permit (if required by your state) or are carrying a weapon for self defense and you haven't thought about what to do in those situations. FUCKING STOP! FIGURE IT OUT! DON'T BE A MORON!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Moment of Zen

43,000 ft. over eastern Colorado looking at the sun setting behind the Rockies.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Call me a moonbat

When I read stuff like this:

It makes me really think we need a truly strict constitutionalists as our next president. Someone who will look at this and strike it off the books on principle.

- Edit: I fixed the link to a FoxNews story that's close to the opinion piece I originally read.  All copyrights belong to FoxNews etc.  No infringement is intended.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Life of a Charter Pilot....

Or, Thems the ways it goes...

So, the day after New Years, we're on a trip that takes us from home base, to Music City, to City of the Rising Dead Bird, then south of the border, WAY south, to Honduras, sit for a while and then bring them back.  Supposed to have been 8 days on the road, most of that outside of the US.


We were flying the airplane into Music City tonight, the night before, so we could be ready for an early launch tomorrow.  And as we're descending into the approach we get a lovely CAS (caution and advisory system) message announcing the right engine chip detector has... detected.  Great.  It's a white message in the air, as opposed to amber or red, only because there's not a blasted thing we can do about it while we're flying.

Of course as soon as we touch down it goes all amber and chimes at us.

Now, rather than racking up nearly 15 hours of flight pay, we're possibly losing this trip and stuck here.

Dammit, I'm trying to bank enough in flight pay each month to pick up my rotary rating by the end of the summer.

And with that I'm done whining.