Feb 27, 2016 – These are Exciting Times

The focus of this blog is flying, of course, but the joy I take from flying is constantly flavored by what is going on in my personal life. I make no effort to separate the two, because passion for one drives the other.

EXPRESSING APPRECIATION: Our household is going through aIMG_6935 challenging time with our recent medical concerns. Others have it much worse, we know, but this is our time to manage through a serious challenge. To that end – just a quick thanks to all of our friends that constantly step up for us. Whatever challenges we’ve had lately, there has been someone in our network coming by to make it better. We are impressed and grateful for our family and friends. We promise to give back – not necessarily to the individuals involved, per se – but to others as we are able. Passing on goodwill as a means of giving thanks.

NOW THAT I’M RETIRED FROM PIEDMONT AND FROM PHI, Beverly and I are adjusting to my new availability. Her recently discovered heart condition certainly has a short term impact on our mobility, and we are hoping an upcoming procedure will put us in a good place to travel and enjoy each other in our 60’s. The activities around this are distracting to me, as you can imagine, so I’m not making many changes until we have sailed these waters in the coming weeks.

Once we are beyond the immediate medical issues, Bev and I would like to spend intentional casual time together each month. Flying someplace in our airplane for an over-night visit or just going to the beach in the middle of the week would be fun. Making up for lost time with our circle of friends can mostly happen on the weekends, but we’ve missed allot with my being away all the time. Oshkosh and Florida in July is already planned, so this year will be interesting.

IMG_1902SO THE REALLY BIG AVIATION NEWS is that I have been given the chance to fly a B-25 Bomber. Imagine being able to earn a SIC and possibly a PIC rating in a classic warbird – one with amazing history behind it. Just to have been asked to participate is an honor, in my view, so I plan to commit time doing volunteer work with the Delaware Aviation Museum Foundation (DAMF) down in Georgetown, DE this year. I’ve already been involved a bit, and am learning with each visit.

THESE TWO ELEMENTS ARE NOW THE BACKDROP for evaluating anything that comes next for me. Our medical challenges at home and a desire to spend more time together, coupled with my warbird opportunity at DAMF, comprise my baseline ‘third career’. Lots of free time with a retirement that is adequate to support a moderate amount of flying my own airplane. Still, it might just be that these options aren’t enough to keep me as busy as I’d like. I may need more of a challenge.

NETWORKING PAYS OFF when you are looking to develop options to fill a void. In the last month or so I have had several opportunities develop without doing anything other than voicing my thoughts on the matter. Half of these are technical and the other half related to aviation. All of them are promising; will help me build an even more incredible life experience; and may be molded to meet my work/life balance requirements. The impact on my B-25 opportunity will also be a key consideration in all this. So many people to thank……

SO MY BASELINE OPTION is basically to IMG_1941do nothing I’m not doing now. Be available for Beverly as needed; work the museum as I am needed and available; and do a volunteer flight a month. Travel and participate in airshows with the B-25; training as the opportunity presents.

I’ve joined a gym near my Smyrna home and burn some time there several times a week. I put myself back on the hangar list up at 33N to have my airplane close regardless of which home we are in. I completed some honey-do items that have been hanging out there for almost 3 years, and am reading novels again. My own book continues to grow slowly, and the motorcycle is waiting patiently for warmer weather. 

THE ISLAND PILOT OPTION is an interesting chance to fly back and forth to the islands on an undemanding schedule. It was presented as an opportunity to acquire and manage an aircraft, then pilot round trips for a start up company. I submitted a bid in January at their request, but the communication cooled after they saw the numbers. I consider this an interesting exercise with a low probability of being acted upon. 

THE AIRPORT MANAGER OPTION is the kind of job I always talked about pursuing when I retired. The position was posted earning about twice what I was earning at Piedmont. I’d be working only minutes from home in a very low stress job. It was suggested by a friend that I apply, and I have done that to develop and explore this option further. If I do get interviewed, I’ll make an effort to build in the paid and unpaid leave I think I’ll need to make it work with my new work/life balance perspective. It could be an easy way to stay occupied and earn plenty of extra flying cash.

THE B-25 PILOT OPTION is simply the coolest opportunity I could have imagined. The value of the training and experience I’d get here ranks at the highest level for me. One of my friends opened the door for me, and I am grateful for the opportunity. Amazing opportunity.

Since joining just a few weeks ago, I’ve already learned a few things about radial engines, the larger brake systems used in heavy aircraft, WWII era navigation equipment, and the B-25 in general. I have also been able to observe an annual inspection being performed on a PA30 based there.

I get to meet new and interesting people at the museum with their own amazing stories. Those opportunities are sure to increase as the flying season kicks in and I get more involved. Just the other day I was standing right next to an owner and key stakeholder of a major aviation manufacturer that was formerly based in Delaware. The Bellanca business is now closed, but it left an indelible mark on history – both Delaware’s and aviations. I had no idea who this woman was until I was given the opportunity to take a look at a record setting airplane she was donating to the museum. You just never ever know who is standing right next to you.

Because it is a volunteer organization, however, there are no guarantees that I’ll actually get to fly. I think the intention is certainly there and they are making a solid effort to get me started, but things change all the time and I understand that. I also think that this role itself will probably not be enough to keep me engaged all by itself.  This all remains to be seen, but I intend to try.

THE UTILITY CONSULTANT OPTION came out of the blue, and I think is attributable to LinkedIn. I was contacted by a lead consultant who had been working with my teams building Network Operations Centers for PHI. He was with a different company then, and is now a leader with a this consulting firm. He asked me if I’d consider interviewing, and I agreed to. Absolutely

Subsequently, I had a phone screen interview with an HR representative. She was polite, but I think taken aback somewhat by the requirements I was communicating. Particularly with what I was NOT willing to do. The base expectation for getting into consulting work is to accept assignments that have you spending significant time away at client sites. Conversely, I was explaining how I wanted minimum time away from home, and a degree of flexibility in my time off!

I was certain this would be the end of this opportunity. I expected the interview to be stopped before it had even gotten started. It was important for them to know the limits of what I was willing to do, so I was brutally honest.

Imagine my surprise when only a few days later I was asked to accept a second interview with a consulting manager in the utilities and energy sector. They tell me that my initial interview went well, so it seems as if some flexibility may be available with this option.

I’d be able to earn a few dollars that could be used for my airplane, and for Bev and I to travel some without worrying about the cost. I’d also retain the flexibility to learn the B-25 and fill in idle hours with something productive at the same time.

THE BUSINESS LEADER OPTION: This opportunity is liable to be the most lucrative and exciting. It is local opportunity of indeterminate duration. The work will be similar to what I’ve done on the Network Operations Project, but it will be local. All in Delaware. Time off as required sounds workable too.

This one may also include deal closing trips using my airplane, which is entirely feasible from an insurance perspective if I am a listed employee. I suspect the demands of this job would be full-time, so I’d sacrifice B-25 time, I think. I’d stay involved with the DAMF as I am able, and expect time off to be a little less. I’d most likely be home every night and weekends, and available for anything Bev needs. All this remains to be seen as the details emerge.

AS THEY SAID IN THE MATRIX; Damn, these are exciting times!

For now, I have one interview scheduled for next week with the consulting firm. I’m waiting to hear about a potential airport manager interview, or to be notified that I won’t be getting one. The island pilot option is most likely dead, so I’ll be surprised if anything comes of that. Finally, the business leader option is dependent on several factors falling into place. I just know I’m on the short list for doing that work, and will hear something about that in the coming weeks or months. 

All this, of course, presumes an expected positive outcome to the upcoming medical procedure Beverly has ahead. I’m not going to commit to anything beyond the B-25 until we’ve gotten through that. I can continue with the B-25 as my time permits, so it fits well into todays uncertainties.

Thanks again to my friends for being there. In the past month, I’ve reviewed prescribed medications and treatments with a scientist from a major drug firm; had a busy cardiologist who is not our doctor stop what he was doing to take a conference call from my wife and I; and had three different groups of friends successfully find me shelter for my airplane when my hangar was damaged. I could go on about friends and family being there, but I won’t.  Just know that it feels good.

Fly safe…..

Frank