Name: Frank


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Posts by fdorrin:

    Oct 10, 2018 – The Lucky Bee Sting

    October 14th, 2018

    I’ve been bored as hell lately. That has been due to a number of factors; namely a very light to non-existent work schedule, lots of rain and inclement weather, a wife that isn’t free to travel or even go to dinner due to senior care for her parents, and an airplane that is still being worked on.

    I had just submitted my resume to be considered for some flying out of Lancaster, PA. I figured what the hell – all they could do was say no. I didn’t hear anything, naturally, but also didn’t have any other place to go. I was passing through Newark and decided to change course for a ride up to Lancaster on my Harley Ultra Limited. It was cooler today than it had been recently, but I had my jacket on and was really getting into the ride. Maybe I’ll get a light lunch up there, and then circle back home.

    Accelerating westbound on route 273, the Harley was in its element; sounding and feeling good. I had the music going and my helmet visor up, cool wind in my face. I felt my phone buzzing on my belt about the same time as a dark dot appeared in my view, directly ahead. There was no time to react nor identify what it was, but came right at me and into the open face shield above to the right of my right eye.

    Riding along at 65 mph or so, I was now being stung repeatedly by a yellow jacket lodged in my helmet. First order of business – CRUSH the little bugger since he was already pissed off and fighting for his life. Second order of business was to bring the motorcycle to the side of the road and ignore the growing desire to get my expensive helmet off without throwing it onto the roadway.

    As I released the chin strap on my helmet, the bee fell out to the ground and I pulled it off of my head. There was a growing welt on the side of my face now that was hurting like hell. I had reacted badly to a similar bee sting in my youth, but have been ok the few times it has happened since then. I was concerned with this aggressive attack though, so I decided to stand by the roadside and at least let the wife know what was going on and where I was, in case I did react.

    Pulling out my phone to call her, I saw a stream of texts coming through from a number I didn’t recognize. It was one of my Westwind clients looking for a co-pilot for next week, and he needed a quick answer.

    The bee sting was lucky because I would not have seen these texts until much later in the day, had I not stopped to fight this yellow jacketed demon. Instead of calling my wife – now I was making arrangements for what would be my second contract flight. My face hurt like hell, but now I was rushing home to get all of my documents submitted and to begin making plans to go.

    I’ve been told that it is a good time for me to finish my first book and get it published. I’m considering a structured approach to doing just that for the winter; along with joining a gym.

    I’ll be posting on the progress of my airplane very soon, I hope. The custom made parts are with my A&P, and he is presumably making great progress putting it all back together. I sure hope I get it back very soon.

    Obviously, I’ll post about the contract flight I’m doing on the 15th/16th. I’m actually sitting in the airport doing this update as we speak. Waiting on my Piedmont buddies to get me to Vermont this afternoon.

    Fly safe:  Frank


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    October 7, 2018 – Bored out of my mind….

    October 13th, 2018

    OMG.  You’d think that getting paid to stay home would be a dream come true.  It isn’t for me – I’m way too much a type A.

    The Westwind simulator has broken pretty hard this week, and the client load is very light. I’m not sure if our competitors are busy because their sim is in better shape, but I sure hope it is not our instruction keeping them away. Astra is not all that busy either.

    In any event – I have nothing on my schedule this week, at all, and my wife is completely committed to her parents living upstairs. I take the occasional medical appointment off of her schedule for Pop, but she has Mom one hundred percent. That means I have the time and the money to go play, but don’t want to do a damn thing other than brief motorcycle trips, riding bicycles for exercise, and working around the house. I should be happy, but I’m getting grumpy and feeling like my hands are tied. Grrrrr…..

    Weight Loss & Blood Pressure: I’m doing the best I’ve ever done at this – week after week for months.  I am looking at options for the winter to keep this going. Thus far I’m committed to joining a gym in December – Planet Fitness in nearby Elkton, MD.

    I’ll keep riding my bicycle on the trail until I can’t stand the cold any longer. Later today and tomorrow will be a good test, given the projected high in the 50’s and low 60’s with overcast skies. I don’t think I’ll be out there in the 30’s.

    The blood pressure concerns that started all of this are being managed with medication. I hope to get off of that medication when I reach 200# in the spring. Regardless, I’m finally doing the right things and feeling pretty good about it.

    Contract Flying: I need a challenge! Contract flying is my best hope to fill the void and keep things interesting. I have joined one firm that is supposed to get my name out there, but I’ve only had one contract flight with them so far, and now crickets.

    I talk with all the crews coming through and what I’ve found is that they each have a cadre of pilots they use. Getting you onboard takes paperwork, so once you are through the process and found to be competent – you are on their rolodex. Breaking into that cycle is not going to be easy, but it might happen for me a little at a time.

    I am watching the jobs floating by on pilot websites, reaching out to all my contacts, and working to develop new options.

    My goal with contract flying is to FLY. I want to stay at FlightSafety and FLY, but if it stays this quiet I could be tempted to take a full time flying job. I just don’t know, so I’ll defer thinking about it and see what happens next year.

    N833DF is still being held hostage. The parts are all built and delivered, so no excuses remain. I expect and hope to have it back this year, so that the wasting and bleeding of financial resources for the hangar, insurance, and finally labor will come to an end. When I get that airplane back, all of my angst at having nothing to work on may just evaporate. I need a project.

    Hobbies: If anyone has a good suggestion for hobbies to get into, I’m all ears. I’ve done RC airplanes and helicopters before, and that isn’t getting my motor running. I’ll build some electronic gadgets and clean up my basement work area this winter as well. Once my airplane comes back, maybe I’ll even work on my book again.

    Weight and exercise will be the thing, I guess.

    Fly Safe!  Stay healthy!

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    Aug 26, 2018 – Aug 27, 2018: First Contract Trip

    October 13th, 2018

    First Leg from Indianapolis, IN to Mansfield, OH: It is Sunday morning, 8/26, at around 8:15 am when we get to the airplane. The Captain for this mission, we’ll call him George to maintain a semblance of privacy for the flight, busies himself with getting ice and paying the bills. We walk out to the airplane; he opens the door and gets in. We are going, apparently. Now.

    I tell him to get settled and I’ll do a walk-around of the airplane. I’m looking for any sign of damage or obvious oversights since he’d last seen the airplane. We are taking two passengers from KIND to meet six more out in Ohio. I am the last one in and ask him firmly to watch me close the door to ensure that I am doing it properly. I’ve seen the videos a dozen times, but never actually closed a door until now. I want to ensure I can do that properly, and that I know what to look for.

    I get into the right seat and both engines are already running. My job is easy, and we are soon airborne and heading northeast to Mansfield, Ohio. George has been here many times before, and taxis up to what looks like a hangar to me. Apparently it functions as an FBO, but it seriously is set up in a hangar. No fuel required, and none in sight. We find a gaggle of folks hanging around with boxes and gym bags, ready to go.

    It takes me a minute to open the door, and I do so without lowering the fold-away step. I’ve had maybe 3 flights in this airplane so far. No one has used that step even once, so it simply doesn’t occur to me. The oversight earns me a look of derision from one of the large male passengers. He has done this before and knows where the step is. He becomes the gentlemen for the ladies, and proceeds to help them up the step. None of these folks are small. I am not scoring any points with them, and remind myself that exaggerated customer service might be warranted here.

    I’m looking clumsy outside watching to see what everyone is doing, but I figure it out soon enough and get engaged. I start grabbing passengers bags and walking them back to the storage compartment on the left rear of the airplane. Most of these bags are large and heavy, so it will be a learning experience getting them all in the luggage area. Passengers are boarding now, and the big guy (my step helper) re-emerges from the airplane with a printer box in his hand. Clearly I have forgotten this too, and he’ll help me store it in the back.

    George had actually pre-loaded the printer on the 8th seat – the potty seat. With 8 people aboard, this box will add to the cramped conditions, which made my large friend think it was a mistake. I thanked him, and then turned him around with the box in his hand. First – there is no room for this with all the luggage you guys brought with you, and second, the owner wanted that box go back inside the cabin so it won’t be exposed to the cold in the storage area. You work for him, what would you like to do? He took it back inside.

    Later this same guy rewarded us by taking a dump in the LAV. I’m not sure exactly how he managed that with 8 people aboard this relatively small jet, and I try not to think about it.

    The airplane was absolutely full. I get back in the airplane and fumble a little turning around to secure the door. This is the first time that I have closed the door without someone qualified looking over my shoulder.  I was paranoid, careful, and clumsy. The big helpful passenger was watching and waiting to jump I there. I give him a gentle stay seated, I got this look. The door stayed closed for the entire flight, to I did it correctly. George was too busy starting engines to be concerned with the door.

    There are no lightweights or shortage of baggage onboard today, so I go forward with interest to see the weight numbers and calculate our V-Speeds. The engines are already turning and George is trying to taxi. I guess we’ll review weights and V-speeds later.

    The airplane strains but doesn’t move.  That is because the chocks are still in. I guess that is my bad, though there are three line people milling about outside. George signals one of them to remove chocks, and we start our taxi. I do the taxi checklist quietly on my own.

    George has his phone in his right hand, steering tiller in his left, and we are taxiing between hangars. He is trying to send a text to his boss, who wants to know how things are going each step of the way. I frown inwardly but resist saying anything.

    It is clear to me we are going right to the runway, so I estimate my own speeds at 120/130/186 and note them (no speed bugs). I will call them during the takeoff sequence. Not the way I’m used to planning and doing things, but I’m going along for now to see how a typical 91 operation makes it work. We pause at the hold short line to check for traffic and then take the runway for takeoff. No time to pull out the paper checklist, so I do lineup checks from memory. Off we go!

    Second Leg: Our next stop will be for fuel, so at least George has thought about the loading ahead of time. Not everyone computes a weight and balance like we do in class. If you aren’t going to do something each leg, I recommend doing have a few prepared scenarios available (in the back of your AFM, for example), so you can pull them out on a ramp check. It’d be nice to be able to point to what you based your decision on, and to show that you’d considered performance before you took off. It would be nice to ensure your co-pilot is on the same page as you too. 

    Climbing out of Mansfield, I’m looking around and running checklists to see what might have been missed on the departure. I find a number of things and use the checklists to get them caught up.

    We should arrive in Sioux Falls, SD for fuel around 10:00 local. I wonder if I’d get to do any of the flying today, since I had been used to swapping legs at the airlines. I don’t prompt him about it, and he doesn’t say anything. I do begin a conversation concerning checklist usage, and the possibility of doing a few more systems checks as we proceed. Particularly on the first flight of the day. I want to understand his normal process. I say something like: ‘Here are some things you might want to consider more closely, George. Checklist and memorized procedures that it might help to refresh yourself on.

    The third leg: was out to the west coast. I’m not documenting where we went because this particular private jet owner is a competitive business man and doesn’t want his whereabouts tracked. I signed an agreement not to disclose his movements, or anything else I observe, and I am honoring that.

    As we taxied out for takeoff, George was jerking the airplane left and right of the centerline with his left hand while texting furiously on his phone with the left. His head was down consistently, and he’d not understood our taxi clearance. He’d done this twice before and I’d looked the other way, trying to observe and ease myself into his process. George is always rushing, and twice took off before I or the jet were ready. You can make these kind of shortcuts and mistakes thousands of times without getting hurt, but that one time when all the stars align and Murphy shows up……..  It was time to assert myself.

    I’d been watching this behavior since the first during the first two legs. George would be writing texts while taxiing to the point that the airplane was jerking left and right. He generally knew where he was going by sheer repetition, but the airports were unfamiliar to me. Some of these texts were written on the runway lining up. I’d had enough.

    On this third leg, when George misunderstood our taxi clearance for the second time, I asked him to stop the airplane for a moment. He did, but immediately try to compensate by giving me a flood of things to do. I acknowledged his requests and explained that my job at the moment was to monitor him to ensure that the taxi process was safe and successful. Quite honestly, we weren’t doing a very good job of that at the moment, so everything else will have to wait.

    I told him I did not want to see his phone is his hand while the jet was moving, and that wasn’t a request. There will be no more using the phone while he was taxiing. Don’t do it. Right now we were taxiing, and not doing a great job of it. Let’s get where we were going, and then get the airplane ready for takeoff. He put the phone down and taxied the jet while I updated him on our clearance and got us both on the same page.

    We are moving again, so I went continued ‘We’d taken off twice today and missed important items both times. That is because you have been rushing for some reason that is not evident to me’. I further asserted that we’d no longer be accepting takeoff clearances unless BOTH OF US agreed. If I’m not ready and haven’t run the appropriate checks – you’ll know because my feet will be on the brakes.

    I truly believe that he appreciated what I’d been saying and I managed to say it in a firm but believable way. He didn’t react with hurt pride, but appreciation. I think this guy is financially stressed and has allot going on in his life. He just needed to be reminded and we moved on quickly.

    The takeoff went smoothly, but we still missed a few things. I’ll take responsibility for those this time; admitted what I’d missed to him and promised we’d get a better flow together as the trip continued. Our flight out to the coast was uneventful and the weather clear as we cruised up in the 30’s. The was the highest altitude I’d flown an airplane so far.

    The fourth leg: would be the last leg of the day, flying back from the west coast to Canada. We filled the tanks and flew east with no passengers – repositioning the jet for the next day. Here George took an action with the fuel system automation that was acceptable, but one that I didn’t recommend. Once we leveled in cruise, we had plenty of time so I thought it would be good to talk about my point of view on the topic.

    I explained that I preferred not to use an automatic fuel transfer of fuel based on quantity remaining due to the fact that a valve failure wasn’t as evident since you weren’t looking at it when it happened. I preferred to do it manually. What he’d done was absolutely acceptable and as designed, but there was also another gotcha that could happen when refueling. It was a good technical discussion that killed some time, but then George decided to agree with me and selected the valves to OPEN rather than AUTO.

    We were doing fine up to that point, but opening the valves while we were full of fuel would actually be forcing fuel overboard through the vent system. He had forgotten that, and I came right behind him and closed the valves. It was a learning moment for him, and I asserted that his original process was correct, and the CLOSED position would rely on him remembering to move the valves when we were down to 6000# fuel remaining. His original selection of AUTO would initiate the transfer automatically at 6600#, which was fine but not my preference. The only position you could not be in while loaded with fuel is the OPEN position. Class dismissed and we flew along quietly for a little bit.

    Landing in Canada was a night with scattered low clouds. No approach or pre-landing briefing called for or desired, so I briefed myself and then verbally confirmed the basics with George.

    We left the jet hurriedly, and had a long drive to our hotel in Hanover. Per the schedule, we’d have about 6 hours of sleep before flying to Ohio and back to the west coast again.

    August 27 – Heading West: The hotel was clean and nice. I had no trouble falling asleep after a very long day. Arriving at the jet, George climbed right in and got ready to fire up. I walked around and did the best cursory pre-flight I could do under the circumstances.

    There was quite a bit of weather on the way west, so I was able to play with the radar a bit. We were flying above all of it at 36,000′, and deviating around anything that reached up to us.

    The colors didn’t come out great, but you can see from the insert that I was able to us a profile view to get a feel for how thick the clouds were. Skimming along the top, we’d be fine as long as we didn’t lose an engine. Had that occurred, there were times when we’d have been forced to drift down on the remaining engine – right into the bad weather. That would be a double whammy that George and I kept an eye on.

    After landing on the west coast again, I had a 10 hour wait for my flight home. Before I left, I talked with George about not giving me any flying time, and he apologized. He hadn’t thought about it and said that the next time he’d have no problem putting me in the left seat if I’d wanted.

    While I eventually do want to PIC these flights, that will have to wait until I build sufficient right seat time actually flying the airplane. Next time I’ll ask to swap legs but stay in the right seat while doing it.

    I read another novel and had a nice lunch waiting and waiting.

    Thanks for reading all this. I’m scheduled for my second contract flight tomorrow (10/14) and the write-up will be short. This flight will be much shorter in length and flight time.



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    Aug 25, 2018 – First Contract Trip: Getting Started

    October 7th, 2018

    So here I am – 60 years old and still getting excited about life in general. I’m working for a solid firm instructing pilots that fly corporate jets, and now I’m heading out to gain the practical experience that will bolster my credibility and keep it all fresh and real. I’m loving the challenge!

    Accepting contract flights in jets appears to be a very nice fit into my personal life and my career at FlightSafety. Executing this trip will test that theory, and help me to figure out if the fun of it all will outweigh the pain experienced in getting there and back. The only way to know for sure is to go do it, so here I go.

    I left at noon on Saturday the 25th of August, bound for Indiana via Charlotte. I arrived at the airport more than 2 hours early for my flight, as usual. I always say I’ll cut it more closely when this becomes routine, and never quite want to take the chance of missing a flight. The owner planned my flights with a stop-over in Charlotte, on to where I’d meet the Captain of the flight in Indiana, we’ll call him George. I’d get there just after noon, with enough time to look over the airplane and get to know the Captain.

    Philly Terminal: I sat in the terminal with five aviation magazines, a novel, and my iPad. Plenty to keep my brain busy for the inevitable waiting of commercial aviation. The magazines were from the pile in my living room that had been left unread. I avoid those magazines and since they are a reminder that my airplane was still languishing in Matt’s hangar. In years past, I couldn’t get enough of these various subscriptions and was energized enough to read them all. The adventures others were living; the developing technologies; and a deeper understanding of aviation all pulled me in.

    Since my airplane wasn’t flying, however, they just served as a reminder that I’d made sub-optimal choices in how to maintain my machine. Only now that the return of N833DF is getting closer – as it appears – am I able to pick up those magazines and starting reading again.

    Waiting among the building crowds, I finished all of the magazines and began reading the novel I’d planned to read on the flight to Charlotte. After the first two chapters, they finally called zone 88 and I boarded with no drama. The trip was off to a good start, and I was actually excited. Looking forward to getting my hands on the jet.

    Our on-time arrival allowed for a relaxed stroll to my connecting flight gate. I smiled inwardly as I found myself walking along in the very same terminal I flew Dash-8s out of this terminal with Piedmont. I have been so truly blessed to have lived that experience, and I know it. Here it was that an average college student of engineering could experience a successful primary career with the utilities; retire from that to fly for an airline full time; and then begin a third full time career instructing in types of corporate jets I’d never seen nor flown before. Life is never all smooth and pretty, but I am feeling pretty good about how it all played out so far.

    Charlotte Terminal: The Dash-8s are all gone now. My Piedmont friends are off flying big jets for American. I live vicariously through them, and today I’m seeking a small taste of what they do everyday. I no longer covet opportunities that might take me away from home for too long, and continue to re-invent myself accordingly. More play time with my best friend, Beverly, enjoying every minute of what we’ve worked so hard for.

    Walking a bit taller now, I might have even have been strutting a little as I walked through the terminal. Most likely I looked like a total dork, or any one of a dozen other simpletons wondering lost about the terminal, but I didn’t care. This is a moment of reflection I I deserved. Ohhhh….   there’s Starbucks! Squirrel!!

    Delays, Delays, Delays: I have now learned that the airplane meant to take me to Indiana is sitting broken in Asheville, NC. Five successive flight delays were announced, one every 45 minutes, as I progressed further and further into my book. I am not anxious nor worried – the owner of the jet made the arrangements and my obligations were being met whether or not this flight ever happened. I woke up this morning resigned to a long day of waiting, and this was no surprise.

    As the sixth flight delay was announced, however, I thought I’d better let George know that I was having concerns about ever making it to Indiana today. I was interested to see how the owner and George would respond to this scenario, and was playing my part in this little play. With the Captain thusly informed, he went on to confer with the owner, promising to get back to me with ideas and potential next steps.

    I’d been in the terminal for more than 3 hours at this point, and I’d gotten fairly hungry. I’d been on a successful low carb diet for some time now, and it’s working very well. I could afford wings and an iced tea this afternoon, so lunch at the Whiskey River restaurant would be appropriate. It would also help to kill some of the time before the next flight delay.

    Waiting in airports is a serious downside of this job. In order to be successful at this, I’ll have to learn how to bob and weave myself onto alternative flights that get me where I want to be. I’ve never flown commercial regularly enough to want to be good at it, so we’ll see how that goes.

    Lunch was a salad and dry-rub wings that were very good. Food tastes better when you are eating less (dieting), and the flavors really came out of those wings. I can taste them as I write this, and my stomach is growling.

    I finished up, paid my check, and began walking back to my gate to continue reading my novel. I’d better make a pit stop on the way, I thought,  joining the line of men walking into the restroom at the base of the terminal. Seconds later, my phone rang at the most inconvenient time. I aborted my attempt at relief,  stepping back out into the rush of bodies in  the terminal. It was the owner, Donald, calling. He was motivated and had a plan.

    Donald had gotten American Express moving to help me get onto an alternate flight. He asserts that I should drop everything and run right now to another gate. I tell him I understand, hang up, and go right back into the restroom to finish what I’d started. In years past I’d have sucked it up and done the OJ thing through the airport to be the best employee ever – but I’m more realistic now. Retired Frank hangs up and stops in the rest room, and only when that’s done do I fast-walk to the new gate.

    An alternate flight opportunity: Ok – so I’m not as relaxed as I portrayed a few words ago. Old habits die hard. I hustled more than I realize to meet the owner’s expectations, and was out of breath arriving at the gate. Boarding was well underway by then, but I still needed to collect myself. I regroup and wait for the agent to pause between boarding announcements.

    She turns her attention to me and I explain what the owner has told me. AmEx has guaranteed me a seat on this particular flight, so please look for my name and I’ll be on my way. She is not impressed. Instead, she politely explains that she doesn’t see any of that happening for me, and my name isn’t anywhere to be found. Standby passengers crowd closely around me to ensure I don’t bully my way ahead of them, and I understand their concerns.  I get it.

    I am diplomatic but insistent, explaining what I’d been told to expect. The agent continues boarding and the standbys crowd in more closely to hear the exchange. The agent summoned her manager, and the woman sees my Piedmont hat. She smiles a warm smile at me, assumes I still work for her company, and asks if I’m non-revving. ‘No Ma’am. I no longer work for the company. I’m just trying to get re-positioned to move a private jet.’. I repeated what the owner told me, and by this time have him on the phone as well. Donald is communicating with Amex, and this is exactly what I hate about commercial air travel. He who knows the tricks can manipulate himself to the front of the line.

    The gate manager is knowledgable, personable, and very attractive to boot. She understands that I am not a current employee, and even though the standbys are burning holes in her forehead with their eyes, she decides she likes me anyway. For the next 15 minutes she has Donald and AmEx do different things to try and get me on, but the sand runs out of the hour glass before we get it done for me. The young lady did all she could do for this flight, then went a step further and guaranteed me on a back-up flight leaving in an hour. That meant that if my original flight never got here – I wouldn’t have to do all this again.

    The gate manager is a rock star to me, and made me feel personally special. That was a very nice thing for her to do for me. I am still getting energy out of that encounter.

    Back to Plan A: I finally get out on the original flight – only 4 or 5 hours after I should have gone. It’s already been a long day, but one I was well prepared for. By the time I get on the airplane for the last leg, I’ve had lunch and have finished the novel I’d started. The coffee at the terminal was good, I’d had a wonderful experience with the gate manager, and I was heading out to fly my first contract jet trip.

    The two hour flight arrived in Indiana and I called George to let him know I’d arrived. He was apparently waiting nearby, and told me to head upstairs to arrivals where it was easier for him to find me. I appreciate not having to deal with rental cars and travel arrangements on this end of the journey, and head out to meet him.

    Picking up wayward crew was apparently one of the Captain’s many duties. Part of what I wanted to learn was those details involved with being the pilot in command of a corporate jet. Some of what you have to do is not so pleasant, but we’ll get into that later.

    We had planned to spend time pre-flighting the jet when I arrived. I need experience, in my opinion, learning how to do an effective and efficient actual preflight. It’s too late now since we have an early morning start.  I do get my first look at the machine while I drop off my flight gear, and then do an expedient walk-around. We button up and head for a late Texas Roadhouse dinner after a very long travel day. I eat a not-so-terrific steak and potato dinner as the fatigue of the day sets in.

    The hotel was conveniently located adjacent to where the airplane was kept. There was certainly nothing impressive about it, and the view, as you can see, was of the roof top air conditioning units and the airport perimeter fencing. I brushed my teeth and fell asleep in short order.

    Sunday, August 26th: I grabbed a nasty hotel breakfast while waiting for the George to come down. Once I see him, I learn that he’d already arranged to have the jet pulled out on the ramp and fueled. Once he squared up in the FBO, he just got in while I walked around and did my own cursory exterior pre-flight. I had expected to follow him around while he pre-flighted, but his process was a little different.

    The Westwind I’m flying today is shown at left. Tail number removed to maintain privacy for the owner. Two initial pax arrived, and it was time for me to insert myself and help load their luggage. Part of what I had to figure out was what George expected me to do in terms of passenger interaction, versus what he wanted to do himself. I held back for a few minutes, but finally just jumped in there and loaded the bags while he got them organized and into the airplane. I was the last one in and had to close the door. I knew how to do it from the videos and training I’d been giving others, but insisted that he double check my work since I’d never actually done that before. It was all good and now I was ‘checked out’.

    To be continued…..

    Fly Safe

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    Aug 26, 2018 Breaking the ICE

    September 9th, 2018

    This blog is about working out the bugs in a new relationship I’ve established with a pilot clearing house of sorts. Trying to get that first flight in the books before I lose interest. The route to accomplishing that can be circuitous at best.

    Home Front: I’m catching up on my blog this morning – writing this on Sept 9th, 2018. I’ve had a few days off of FlightSafety recently; it’s been raining steadily since yesterday. My left arm and hip are very sore from a hard fall I took while riding my new bicycle a few days ago. I don’t think I broke anything, but I stunned myself pretty good. My helmet took a solid hit that saved the back of my head, so the safety equipment matters.

    It was a stupid mistake caused by getting too tired and drifting off of the trail after an arduous uphill climb. The front wheel dropped 3″ and I couldn’t get it back over the lip, carrying the forward momentum I was gathering into the ground with my left shoulder.  Strong headwinds that day had made me working harder than normal for the entire 30 miles, and I just didn’t want to quit. I’ll restart again next week, using a Red Bull cycling startup plan a FB friend forwarded to me.  Maybe a little more planning will be a good thing.

    My in-laws are playing musical hospitals again this week. Mom had a mini-stroke and remains in the hospital.  Dad lost the feeling in his legs and almost fell again. They just fold out from under him with no warning, so someone has to be here with him all the time. Beverly has devoted herself to her parents care entirely, but this week needs to be different. She normally attends a conference every year related to the firehouse volunteer work she does. The siblings are stepping up to cover for her and allow that to happen, but it took a few days to sort it all out. When you are the cornerstone to the structure of a number of lives, mine included, it takes allot to transfer all that responsibility smoothly. Even temporarily.

    So Bev leaves today, and other siblings will be in and out of my house all week helping Dad. I’ll be a part of that too, even though I have three long days of work on my schedule. It can be weird having so much traffic through my home, but it is the best solution for us.

    Westwind Flying:  In late July, I decided to join an organization that aligns owners with pilots. It is just one of the actions I’ve taken in an attempt to develop options that will build my operational jet experience. Three weeks had passed since I submitted my paperwork, and I hadn’t heard a peep from them. It could be that they realized I had zero actual jet time; that the organization was a mess and not worth my time; or that the paperwork was missing something.

    I reached out to one of the Admin folks to find out what was going on. She told me that this process normally takes a month, and that there were no problems with my paperwork that she was aware of. Seems like an incredibly long time to me, but what do I know. In the back of my mind I figured this opportunity would not bear fruit for me. Oh well.  Move on.

    To my great surprise, I received a text from them telling me not that I’m not only good to go, but that they have a trip for me already! Brooke, my contact at this new firm, wanted to know if I’d be interested in a 4 day trip that included two travel/positioning days. Wait a minute – my first indication that I’d been cleared to fly is a flight itself, and it’s a four day starting in just a few days? Welcome to part 91 flying, I guess. I still had so many questions about the logistics of it all.

    My schedule was light, so I said yes without giving much consideration to the aggressive itinerary or any of my other concerns. No better way to answer all of my own questions than to just go out and figure it out on my own. As it turns out, saying YES to this flight didn’t mean the flight would actually happen though. This firm I had affiliated myself with hadn’t actually signed an agreement with the owner to provide services to him yet. It appears that the owner and this pilot would be working out the details on both ends – on the fly.

    While they continued working to get the owner signed – they needed to ensure all of my paperwork was in order. I was asked to forward a copy of my medical and tell them what my daily rate would be. The former was easy, but I’d be guessing at a daily rate. The only rate I knew of was $850 that was mentioned by an experienced contract pilot to a similar firm. Since I have no operational jet time, and can’t really guess at what would be acceptable or appropriate. I admitted my ignorance and went with an average rate they suggested for the time being. I want to fly.

    With that settled, Brooke and I exchanged a series of back and forth texts that included qualification clarifications and my birth city so an eApis could be filed for the Canada stop-over. I went to bed realizing that the flight was to begin in just two days, the owner hadn’t yet signed.  Travel arrangements hadn’t been made nor researched either. I guess this might still happen.

    I awoke very early the morning of Friday 24th and sent this to Brooke: ‘I hope this is a work phone and doesn’t ping you in the middle of the night. Part of what I have to learn about our interactions.

    I am thinking we need to set a decision time early today for this trip. I have other things I could be doing, and rushed travel arrangements can make me suffer unnecessarily.

    That’s my biggest concern right now, airline arrangements that save money at my expense of time and comfort. I am interested to see how painful it will be getting home after this trip, in particular. I assume we’ll be departing me out of Philadelphia airport.

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on these concerns. In the meantime, I’ll continue preparing.

    Thanks for what you do.’

    The response came later that morning to let me know that the owner had actually signed late last night. He would be getting my information this morning, and would have to approve my assignment before travel arrangements could be made for me. Apparently, I’d typically be responsible for making my own travel arrangements, and that those expenses would be 100% covered on the back end. I’m ok with the expenses part, but setting flights without knowing a reliable time-table on the back end gave me continuing concerns.

    While waiting for client approval, another request came in from Brooke.  ‘Hey Frank could you send me over your international procedures please’. Ummmm.   What? I responded: ‘I actually might have been international trained over the last two years at FlightSafety, just never used them, nor had to answer that question. Won’t be able to check that today either, so if that’s a killer, just let me know.’  I am growing weary of the disorganized approach, on again / off again nature of the trip, and continuing concerns about last minute travel. I continued: In any event, I’ll Circle back with you to better understand airline, travel, and hotel process. I didn’t think I was in the expense report system either, so I did get something from this exercise. I’m home and available by phone if you need me. Both sims I use broke, so I’m off.

    So the texting continued back and forth in an attempt to confirm I had international training, and to encourage me to get my certificate if I had. Brooke really wanted me to call FlightSafety to get all my records, but I didn’t want to advertise the fact that I was contract flying. I told her emphatically NO – I would not be doing that. I did look up all of my records on my own, confirming that I had not been through international training at all.

    Part 91 operations into Canada typically do not need international training, so their request confused me a bit. Maybe jets or their specific operation had special requirements I wasn’t aware of. I’d have to defer to them on that, and Brooke was adamant I needed it. I finally told her I was NOT internationally trained and would have to assume this trip was dead for me. I began thinking about making new plans for the coming days.

    Telling her the flight was dead to me prompted a call from her boss – a pilot – and the director who was trying to get this whole thing going. This guy introduced himself and informed me that he’d be the one finding me a co-pilot. Whoa, whoa, whoa!!! I reminded him that I had made it very clear that I had zero PIC jet time and only a few hours SIC in the jet at this point. I would NOT be acting as PIC for this flight.

    While I certainly was capable of flying the airplane, there was no way I’d accept that responsibility; particularly on an international flight with an aggressive schedule like this.  I told him this killed the mission (for the second time) for me, and I’m glad we finally understood each other.

    He asked me to not consider the trip dead yet, and to allow him some time to get back to me. The clock was ticking and this trip was on life support. Fifteen minutes later he called back and told me I didn’t need international procedures training, nor anything else, since I was type rated in the airplane and ready to go. Furthermore, I’d be flying right seat with an experienced owner captain, and finally that all my information and ratings were good. He apologized for adding to the confusion, and the trip was back on – if the owner approved me.

    Next the owner of the jet calls. Kevin is another non-pilot in the process, and wants to know how many hours I have in the jet. He also wants to know the last time I flew it and whether or not I was able to get three landings in when I did. I made if very clear what my lack of operational experience was, and was very direct in what I would and would not do for him. He accepted me right then and there, so I guess it’s game on again.

    While I had him on the phone, I expressed my concerns about travel and getting where I needed to be on the schedule that he wanted. The company that represents me suggests that I make my own travel arrangements, which the owner would then pay for. I wasn’t sure how or when to do that, given part 91 arrivals can be delayed and this was all so very last minute. The owner told me he’d like to set up all of the travel for me, presumably so that he could log the points and so forth. I let him do that – since he could then help me change them as necessary.

    The trip was finalized at this point. I’d be flying to Indiana via Charlotte on Saturday the 25th. We depart there to pick up a full load of folks and baggage in a nearby state, and then head west for a fuel stop in South Dakota. We would be heavy, so the fuel stop was necessary.

    After that it was on to the pacific northwest and then back to eastern Canada for the night. Early the next day we would leave from Canada for stops in the mid-west before heading back to the pacific northwest again. I’d leave the jet for home after that.

    I’m being intentionally vague here about destinations and stops, to maintain client confidentiality while still sharing what the process looked like.

    I’ll talk more about the flight itself in the next blog. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

    Fly safe!   Frank

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    Aug 25, 2018 – How to add flying to this thing of ours…..

    September 5th, 2018

    Investigating the possibilities: I enjoy classroom and sim instructing in these jets, but feel the need to back it up with real experience. Actually flying is more fun, gives you the street creds to speak more confidently, and I think just makes you more relatable to clients. Besides all that – it keeps me interested and growing as a pilot.

    I read the rules for participating in the ‘Fly for Pay’ program at work, and completed all the requirements so that I could do things the way that they wanted me to. Nothing happened. I’ve come to understand that the insurance demands placed on owners to contract our instructors to fly with them might be unrealistic for these older jets.  ‘Fly for Pay’ could work for instructors in the more modern (expensive) training programs, but maybe not where I am.

    I did find that other instructors were flying outside of this program. Creating my own opportunities might be stretching the rules a bit, but it appears that this has been an accepted practice. In any event – here we go.

    Initial Experience: March, 2018. One of my clients, a successful owner/operator of a Westwind II, offered to take me flying if I came to San Antonio. I asked Eric several times if he was serious, and each time I got an enthusiastic YES – come on down.

    So I flew down to meet him and his family and go flying with them. Eric put me in the right seat and guided me through my first turbojet take-offs, landings, steep turns, stalls, and instrument appr0aches. What an amazing and capable guy he is, and how incredibly generous it was for him to take the time he did with me. Life is good and you just have to appreciate people like this. I’ll pay it forward – I will.

    I was down in San Antonio over a period of four days. We went out flying for two of them, taking short hops for lunch or to the practice area. Not only did we fly, but he allowed me to do an extensive pre-flight of the airplane, and to take pictures for the instructors back home. This guy does it right!

    Since I wasn’t paid for any of this, and the travel was on my own dime, none of this fell into the realm of outside flying in my view. I just went 91 flying with a friend. I’m hooked on getting more of this, though, so I motivated myself to actively find ways to make it happen (develop opportunities).

    Networking: The goal is to find opportunities to fly jets then, so I thought I’d try the easy way first. Find people who were already flying outside, or had done it in the past. Ask them how they got started, and then try to duplicate that. The stories from my peers are amazing, as they always are, but I found the paths they’d taken no longer existed or were not open to me. I was concerned that interrogating instructors outside of my program might make my PM look bad, so I began looking outside for ideas.

    I will have been at FlightSafety for two years this December. I am financially committed to a two year stay that included two type ratings in corporate jets, and will be given an opportunity to become an examiner by the end of the year. I respect the opportunities this work has afforded me, and will move the ball forward in a way that shows respect for my peers and loyalty to FSI.  I like my job.

    Planting seeds to go flying: I have been flying for about 35 years and have formed a good number of lasting friendships doing that. Casually reaching out to them for advice, I advertised what I’m trying to do. In class, I began to spend the time getting to know the contract pilots that pass through, encouraging them to talk about how they got into the business in the first place. It was just this kind of conversation that had led to the flying opportunity with Eric back in March.

    One late July Westwind class included Ken D. Ken is a contract pilot flying several aircraft for a variety of owners. His situation is unique in that he had clients contacting him directly, while he was also affiliated with companies that market his services to the owners they service. Those firms had owner agreements and pilot agreements. they make their money lining the two up. It was as if he had an agent (or two) working on his behalf, that would line up jobs for him.

    I enjoyed talking with Ken, and we got to know each other better during those few days. During our breaks, I asked him as many questions as I could about getting established as a contract pilot. His answers were direct and to the point, and our conversation was incredibly valuable to me. He must have decided that I was a worthy candidate, as he introduced me to two of his contacts before he left. He went even further and vouched for me to both of them.

    I followed up the very next day. One of those contacts blew me off, promising to keep my information on file for the future. Yeah, Right. The other one signed me up enthusiastically, however, so the story continues.

    I am now affiliated with a contract pilot company, based on Ken’s recommendation. It feels wrong to be working full time for FSI, while also being affiliated with another organization at the same time. It should be good, since this new firm only calls and offers trips. It doesn’t control my schedule in any way, and I’m under no obligation to do anything. My priorities are clear, and my loyalties to FSI and my teammates are intact.

    The onboarding process took a month to get sorted out. I’ll only ever schedule a flight when I know that our FSI coverage is solid, and I know I won’t be putting anyone out. The Westwind / Astra schedule is very light at the moment, which bodes well for an uncomplicated foray into this process.

    If it ever become a sticking point – FSI wins and I’ll find another way. The truth is that I need something to keep me busy, and the money is very good for this retirement gig. I don’t want to mess this up. I like the people I work with allot, and I get to talk about airplanes and play with simulators all day long. My Program Manager knows what he is doing and directly manages quality of life for those on his team. FSI is doing right by me and I want to stay for the time being.

    First flight: Three weeks after signing up and I still hadn’t heard that I’d been cleared to fly yet. They told me it typically takes a full month, so I sat back and waited for an email. At this point, I was still not sure if this company was blowing smoke or not, but I had little to lose in trying.

    My first assignment actually came before I ever got the email saying all was good, and I’ll talk about that in the next post.  I can now add the title ‘contract pilot’ to my resume.

    Fly safe! More later.


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    Aug 22, 2018 – Goals and Options Coming Alive!

    August 27th, 2018

    Holy cow!! I have managed to go from relaxed and laid back, to getting busy and worrying about fitting it all in!  I’m going to get healthier and start flying jets this week (following post), while waiting to hear my airplane is coming online any day now. I think it might just be a CRAZY fall!!

    Setting goals and laying out plans to achieve them is where it starts. Plant a ton of seeds through networking and research, and then pick from the best looking sprouts that come up. Don’t forget to keep your relationships healthy and your spouse supported while your are doing all of this. Sounds simple, and it’s doable. Occasionally, all those seeds you planted come alive at the same time, and your attention gets a bit thin. More on that later.

    Getting healthy: Beverly and I are on a path to reduce our weight and increase our exercise. She is doing well on weight, and I am on track to lose 44 # by February. When we walk, we do at least 2 miles together on the trail, several times a week. When I ride, I do either a 12 mile or 30 mile ride along the waterway.  I’m using my new Cannondale bicycle to ride to Delaware City and back (the 30 miles journey), and loving every minute of it. 

    The last time I’ve been on a road bike I had been commuting to college some 38 years ago. I did it then because I couldn’t afford to fix my car and needed to control my weight anyway. I was able to get to school every bit as fast as if by car, given the number of lights on the road and intersections I’d blow through.  Even with that, I put on 37# in college working full time while taking on a full engineering course load. Worst four years of my life, but the best investment. It was there I started stress eating, and that trait would stay with me.

    So I’m trying to do my level best to meet that last goal alluding me – living the rest of my life under 200 lbs. I’m committed, and I have a wife supporting me too. Stay with me as I talk a little bit more about the exercise experience.

    My buddies Jeff F. and Jen P. are pilot friends who inspired me separately to take better care of myself through bicycling, and to get more fit in general.

    Jen encouraged me further by listening to my goals and giving me technical guidance on the equipment I’d need to meet them. She is in great shape and knows what she is talking about when the subject is flying or biking. She explained it all to me, and referred me to Matt from Henry’s Bike Shop. 

    So I bought a new bike from Matt at Henry’s bike shop – a Cannondale Synapse lightweight aluminum road bike. I had been riding a relatively heavy Transeo 2 Hybrid to the Grain Restaurant on the canal a few times a week.  I been watching people pass me on their road bikes all year, and just wondered if I could do more with the right equipment. 

    Cannondale Synapse

    People who know what they are doing equip these machines with pedals and shoes with clipping mechanisms.  I’m training now to better utilize all of my leg energy to go further and enjoy the ride more.

    I occasionally forget to unclip when I stop, and I slowly fall over and hit the ground (pix below). I’ve fallen twice thus far, and am none-the-worse for wear. Using clips is more efficient than sneakers, and I’ll eventually remember to unclip. Passing 30 degrees of bank is NOT the time to remember to unclip your feet.

    Unclip before slowing

    I am currently meeting my exercise goals, but the weight goal is lagging by about 1.5#.  I should be 228 by Sunday, but am tracking around 229.5.  That weight is down from 243#, so I’m content that I’ll catch up. The exercise is keeping me busy. Now with a flying gig coming up – I’m probably going to slip some more.

    First Contract Trip!: I got a text yesterday asking if I’d like to fly a jet trip. I said HELL YEAH!! before I realized I be cheating my wife out of a well deserved and already scheduled Harley ride through small towns in Maryland. Bev has been working so hard, and this would have been quality time away. I am feeling bad about jumping on this opportunity, but I’ll make it up to her somehow. 

    Fly safe!!!   Right now that jet trip is done and I’m sitting in an airport waiting for a late night ride home. I’ll knock out these posts while I’m waiting, and feel the sleepless pain of the part 91 pilot.

    Hoping to get to Atlanta – and then home to Philly by 9am in the morning. Hell of a price to pay to play with airplanes, I’ll tell ya.


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    Aug 18, 2018 – Lot’s going on..

    August 18th, 2018

    Health and Fitness Project: After a visit to a new doctor back in April, I weighed in at my heaviest weight ever – 250 lbs with clothes on in the middle of the day. That translates to 243 lbs as measured in my birthday suit in the morning. My bad cholesterol was inching up, and my blood pressure remained higher than the FAA or my doctors would like. 

    I’ve struggled with weight all my life, and won’t bore you with the details. It’s time to front burner this project and change what I’m doing. Beverly and I are doing this together, so we cut out the carbs and added exercise. She is doing really well, and I’ve dropped 14 lbs already, at about a rate of 1 lb a week.  When Bev and I exercise together, we walk two miles on the canal. When I go out on my own, I ride my trail bike on a 12 mile route. No bread, pizza, etc. Greatly reduced beer and allot more water.

    The blood pressure is under control, being helped by Lisonopril – 5mg. Thanks to my pilot friends who are also doctors, pharmacists, and scientists for convincing me to do something until the weight is actually off.  Good move.


    On the fun side: I’ve upgraded my bicycle in order to expand my exercise time and keep the burn going. I’m hoping this helps me to go further and have more fun.

    I’ll be celebrating getting under 200# in February

    Things I Learned in Astra Recurrent: Mike and rotating members of the team gave me a nice workout and I learned and re-learned a few things while getting periodically qualified again.

    The PRICE check is a pneumonic for checking your oxygen.  Pressure, Regulator, Indicator, Connected, and Emergency (oxygen quantity for each person should be 10 minutes for each soul onboard).

    Following the pseudo glideslope down to an MDA can be done by a) setting the MDA in the altitude selector; b) intercepting the pseudo glideslope and riding it down to maybe 100′ above the MDA; c) hitting APR button again to turn off approach mode, and d) verifying that ALTS shows up to indicate A/P will capture. Mike says to use the NAV button and not just to cancel approach mode by hitting the APR button. In any event, continue monitoring to ensure the altitude is captured.

    Use the 357 Magnum pneumonic to remember circling clearances. I’ll have to have him define this again, since I lost it in my notes….

    This one is a good one, as in I’ve seen it before and never took the time to incorporate it in my thinking. In order to estimate what altitude you should be at on a visual approach using a 3 degree glidepath, just add 300′ for every 1nm out.  If I’m 3nm from touchdown I should be at 900′.

    On take off with the Astra avionics, you can set up the flight director by pre-arming NAV mode on a SID using the UNS-1C. The FD will automatically activate the SID once airborne. I’ll need to clarify exactly what triggers the transition, but pitch will be controlled by GA mode until you pitch sync, and lateral guidance will be FD driven by the box. 

    On the Go-Around on a single engine approach, remember not to use the pitch sync bars on the FD, but instead fly your airspeed in A/S mode. Have the FO set that on the go.

    The A, B, C, and D approach class speeds are included on the Jepp charts. Have these readily available if you are using NOS – review periodically.

    N833DF Might Actually be getting done!! I have had a busy week and couldn’t make the 2 hour ride south to get any pictures of the progress. What I do know however, is that these offending (‘cracked’) parts are completely out of the airplane, and Matt has another resource working on building the new ones I need. Remember that the left wing already has them replaced, and these came out of the right wing. Matt is working on the other remaining items while the parts are being built.  It’s hard to believe it’s taken this long, but the end may well be insight.  I cannot describe how nice it will be to have all of my stuff squared away at once.  I’m really hopeful that I’ll be traveling again soon. 

    Contract Jet Flying: I’ll wrap up this post with an update on what appeared to be an exciting opportunity to add contract flying to what I’m doing. I completed all of the paperwork 3 weeks ago, but haven’t heard anything after that. Just yesterday I sent a brief email asking what the typical response time was to review everything, and was told that 1 month was typical. I guess that makes sense for security clearances and such, so I’ll give it more time. Hopefully I’ll get some experience and additional valuable contacts this year and next that will help with this goal.

    Off to a beach party and a well deserved day off for my wife today. Our granddaughter will take care of our seniors while we are way, and I’ll try very hard not to delay my slow decline in weight.

    Fly safe and stay healthy!


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    Aug 3, 2018 – Recurrent Astra

    August 4th, 2018

    I am 60 years old now, and have accepted that I’ll never be as good a pilot or instructor as I’d like to be. I will, however, be comfortable being as good as I can be, and will strive to continuously improve. With my head on straight – I’ll continue.

    Ground school for recurrent Astra training was completed yesterday morning, and then followed by sim sessions one and two in the afternoon. All this was to prepare me for an internal part 135 check-ride scheduled for Sunday Afternoon. The Westwind TCE check-ride with the FAA I spoke of earlier has been rescheduled for their benefit to the end of the month. I’m certainly glad these rides weren’t stacked on one another.

    The instructor for todays festivities is Mike – an Army Cobra guy and King Air instructor who is spinning up on jets now. The co-pilot, Chris, is a 300 hour second in command specialist working at FSI that is actually quite good. Sitting in the back is our most senior and respected instructor, Lloyd, who is signing Mike off to instruct on his own. I’d like to fly well enough today to impress every one of them, so I put allot of pressure on myself to fly well. Don’t say or do anything stupid, Frank.

    The simulator is full today, and all eyes are on me. As teammates, we could certainly make recurrent training a predictable and relatively easy event as we each take our turn in the hot seat. These are professionals, and not one of us is inclined to do that. Instead, we will challenge each other to the extent of our abilities to ensure we are ready to fly like the clients we serve. This session will be a workout.

    Teaching is not the same as having your hands on the controls. I did make some mistakes as I was warming up. I sometimes get defensive when suggestions come in from either Chris or Mike, particularly those that point out mistakes, oversights, or missteps I have made. Taking a posture like that doesn’t bode well for CRM, so I work to squelch these reactions.

    Reacting to criticism defensively is a defense mechanism and a negative trait of mine that surfaces occasionally when I’m under pressure. It developed during the brutal experience that was high school. It won’t ever go away, but a coping mechanism I use is to talk about it in the brief and debrief to ensure the crew continues to communicate effectively under pressure. Mistakes will be made and the standard is not perfection, no matter how much I want to achieve that.

    Mike ran two excellent sessions for me yesterday. His suggestions were timely and delivered in a non-critical and constructive manner. Chris was an excellent crew member, and made timely suggestions that were helpful. During one single engine approach briefing I gave him, he saw that I misinterpreted a way point and we discussed it. I didn’t understand what he was trying to tell me, but it turned out he was right. The result was improved safety and a professionally flown single engine approach and landing. 

    There are people I enjoy flying with that ‘get me’. What I mean by that is that they understand my strengths and weaknesses, and have been interested enough in me to compensate and make me better. Everyone around today fell into that category, and I’m glad to have their support. 

    I’m really blessed with this life I’m living.  Fly Safe!



    Jul 17, 2018 – Finding that Perfect Balance

    August 2nd, 2018

    Our home life is amazing – we love our house and our neighbors. The relationship I have with my wife, Beverly, only ever gets better. Our deck construction project is almost complete, and the parents living with us are returning to self-sufficiency. The only issue is how busy Beverly is with the parents she loves and cares for.

    Bev’s day is almost entirely consumed keeping her parents moving. I help where I can, but she is consistently carrying the heavy load. We have the means to travel and play, but not the availability and time where both of us can break away spontaneously. While vacations and the occasional date night happen with planning and family support, there are times when I could be challenging myself more.

    Perfect Balance: I am currently filling my ‘extra time’ with exercise and delivering flight instruction at FSI. Preparing for the return of my airplane, I’ve been receiving flight instruction in a PA30 like my own. When N833DF comes north later this month, I’ll begin flying to rebuild my instrument proficiency. I hope to be flying several times a week.

    I’d like to add to this activity by building jet time doing contract flying in Astra and Westwind, and I’m getting serious about making that happen. When I’m able to do all of these things without negatively affected any other, including my wife, I will have achieved a more perfect balance. The balance of our retired home life, healthy living, challenging activities, and play time.

    N833DF: I am working on wresting my airplane out of Matt’s hands this month, and expecting him to get the work done soon to allow that to happen. Later this month my airplane will be flight tested and brought north to New Castle County airport (KILG), close to where I now live.

    In the mean time, I’ve been working with Phill-Air to get ready by renting a PA30 Twin Comanche they have on the line at their home base, Delaware Airpark (33N). The airplane appears to be very well maintained, and is incredibly stable in flight. I’ve been flying it recently to ensure my procedures are practiced, and in anticipation of needing to prove that I’ve done emergency procedures recently.

    Speaking of that – the airplane flew very well with the left engine shut down, but I was challenged in getting it restarted. In fact, by the third attempt, I became careless and had pulled the prop control back into the feather position somehow. It would never start in that configuration – and that was my fault.

    I’m thinking I moved the prop control back when I intended to bring back the mixture on that engine.  The instructor I had with me pointed it out, and the engine restarted on the next go.  I’m a dumbass, and will slow down and do it correctly next week. Dumb!!

    The only good thing I did was go out an get an instructor to keep an eye on me while I spin back up. I haven’t flown a light twin in two years. It is an easy airplane to fly – but you need to practice your process and follow the checklists and flows naturally. At any rate, my landings are going very well.

    Jet Flying: This is a very NEW and EXCITING development.  Possibly.

    I was speaking with one of my clients, Ken, who was in for recurrent Astra training. I wanted to know more about how to break into contract flying, while continuing to work as an FSI instructor. Ken gave me some precise information and even reached out to his contacts to help me out. Over and above being helpful, and I appreciate that.

    One of his contacts sent him a message (he shared with me) that they were definitely interested. Right after that, they sent me a message that they’d put my information in the file and let me know.  Can you hear the shredder grinding as well as I can from here?

    The second one told me that they approved my application as soon as I submitted it, and then put me through a somewhat automated vetting process. I was getting optimistic (and still am) at this point. My information is currently in their inner-office review process. They tell me via automated email that I’ll hear something very soon. We’ll see. I’ll let you know if that is true.

    It would be nice to teach my clients from a position of experience – even if that experience is far less than their own. It doesn’t hurt any that I want to fly it’s fun!, and now the pay is pretty damn good too.

    Fly safe!


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