Saturday, March 10, 2007

The ATs

I'm coining a new term: Aviation Tremens. Its symptoms are related to Delirum Tremens, aka "the DTs." It's a horrible disease that afflicts aviators who are subject to long winters with unpredictable weather patterns that make it an uphill challenge at best to satisfy their aviation addiction. So, we'll call it the "ATs."

Yesterday, the IFR Pilot was a victim. High pressure moved into Northern Ohio early yesterday, by itself not a novel occurrence. But this was coupled with the jet stream moving north, allowing warmer air to move up from the Gulf. As a result, we had clear skies, nearly unlimited visibility, and temperatures in the high-40's to mid-50's.

I was sitting at my desk, trying to pound out paperwork to assail my litigation opponents. Continually distracted by the view outside my window of BKL and Lake Erie. All I could think about was Mike Hotel, safely ensconced in the hangar, just waiting to be put to the rigors of flight. Would my weekend schedule permit me to fly? Hmmmm, let's see.

Nope, that'll be an uphill challenge at best. Tentatively, MS and I planned a Sunday afternoon rendezvous. A couple hours later, still distracted, yet trying to focus, I was daydreaming while admiring a takeoff out the window.

"You want to go flying, don't you?" It was the voice of my trusted and faithful assistant, she who keeps me from committing more faux pas than I should acknowledge.

"What make you say that?", I ask, in my most professional lawyer/boss voice.

"I see that glaze over your eyes, that wistful look. You should go. We've got things under control here."

"I don't know, there's a pile of junk sitting here waiting to be done."

"It'll be there when you get back. Go fly and satisfy your addiction. And remember, I won't be here Monday."

A seasoned boss, I am, I always listen to the judgment of my assistant. So I shut down the laptop and bid adieu to the prison that is my weekday office.

En route, I make the predictable call.

"Dude, c'mon let's go fly," I demand of MS, who is equally slaving away to The Man.

"Can't, got plans at 7:00."

"No problem, I'll pick you up at Medina, we'll putz around for an hour or so, I'll drop you off in time for your get together."

"Done. See you in an hour."

"Roger that!"

So, I speed off to the hangar. Honoring my recent vow, and despite the CAVU weather, I called and got a weather briefing. As expected, the weather briefing was a non-event. I did, however, for the first time ask if there were any NOTAMs for predicted lack of RAIM availability. We've been seeing quite a bit of those errors on the 396 lately, so I'm trying to incorporate this into my standard retinue of questions to ask. The briefer advised of no such NOTAMs, but did offer that there were some NOTAMs regarding "pseudo-random noise." (I need to look into that; might be a good idea for a post/article.)

Mike Hotel had what appeared to be a smile on the cowl as I undid the Aerotherm heater and opened the hangar. After a preflight, I blasted off for Medina. It's all of about a 3 minute flight, so my hands were a bit full. All went well, but aviators landing on Runway 19 at 1G5 must remember that the threshold is significantly displaced. Here's my key: Over the wires with the orange balls, chop the power, you'll be fine. Demonstrating that self-confidence is a danger to aviators everywhere, I bounced the landing. Can I log both of those?

(As I taxied to the ramp I did not, repeat not see MS fall into the mud. He's waaaaaay too coordinated to pull such a stunt, something that more often would befall me. And there's no, I repeat no, mud to be cleaned from the wingwalk and footwells of the airplane.)

First order of business, make MS perform a takeoff and landing from the right seat. Just for the hey-hey of it. He did fine, no doubt knowing that the IFR Pilot had hands on the controls, ready to rescue us should impending doom reach out to grab us. He too gets to log two landings from one trip around the pattern.

With time on our hands, we did the only just and proper thing: Head up to Burke and enjoy the scenery. So that's what we did.

Cleveland Approach gave us a vector to avoid landing traffic, but soon advised that if we descended, we could proceed direct. One guess at what we did.

Over the Valley View Bridge, we had Lakefront in sight and got a frequency change. It was child's play at that point. Enter on a left base for 24L, then request 24R, which we got. A bit high over the water, just in case, and then cut the power, drop 'er in, and we're on the ground.

A strange sensation in my left butt cheek worried me that maybe the left tire didn't agree with my assessment of the landing. So, we taxied to the ramp just to see if there was anything amiss. MS was right, no problem with the tire, was probably just the brake sticking and releasing. But we took the opportunity to take some photos (to be posted here later after MS forwards then), and switch seats.

MS handled the flying back to Medina, and the IFR Pilot had the radios. After 20 minutes or so, we were on a long final for straight-in to Runway 19 at 1G5. Threw the lights on and that helped us discern the displaced threshold from several miles. MS greased it in, so he only got to log one landing that time.

A quick switcharoo, and I blasted off for the return to the Home Base. Another 3 minute flight.

After several tries to turn the lights on, I realize I've got 123.50 in the radio, not 123.05. Oops, dyslexia at the wrong moment. No wonder I'm not getting any action! Finally, they come on, I cross over the top for left downwind to 21. Looking for a good landing this time to make up for the poor showing at Medina, it all comes together and as I enter the flare, the stall horn goes off and the wheels give the runway the lightest of kisses, like those you give your sleeping lover as you dash off to work and their slumbering continues.

After landing and throwing some gas in the tanks so that next time, we're ready to go without the hassle of fueling up, I notice the upturn in my disposition and an end to the ATs.

Kids, does it get any better than that? Now, I gotta get dressed and go to work!!!

1 comment:

Greybeard said...

Wonderful! I used to experience the same feeling, only it was to get the motorcycle out and work some oil up into it's recesses!

I know you don't need the advice this time, but remember:
It's easier to clean mud out of the footwells after it has dried than to mess with it while it's moist and yucky... (just in case you should ever need to do it. ;>)

Switching seats is worse in some aircraft than others. The sight picture changes dramatically, and some controls on "the wrong side" are added there to barely meet the requirement to have them. It's a great idea to get an idea of what it is like to fly from that side.
Good for both of you.