N833DF Coming Along: Just a few days ago, I rode the Harley down to check on my airplane. The ride down was brilliant – cool air and great power cruising familiar back roads to the beach. Life is good and I’m very much looking forward to the future.

Leading up to this visit, I was dreading showing up to see the right wing was just like it was the last time I was there. That would simply have been demoralizing, and driven my blood pressure up another notch.  BP has been a concern recently, and I might have to do something about it.

I ended up very pleased with what I witnessed and heard from Matt today. I saw that progress was indeed evident, and progress is a very good thing. The left wing is awaiting another skilled set of hands to finish the rivets, and the right wing is coming apart for the gear box repair.

The troubles with N833DF has admittedly left a sour taste in my mouth. It’s all good if we get across the finish line though.

I believe that Matt is really working to get me done, and August now appears realistic. Given that – I am motivated to get myself Sierra Hotel again on this airplane that I love so much. It has been a pain in the ass these last two years, but I’m thinking about long trips and Oshkosh 2019 now. Really getting into it and feeling the love.

Looking back I avoided thinking at all about general aviation while the airplane was down and out. Stacks of aviation magazines built up unread until the subscriptions finally lapsed. I can’t quite toss them, so I see stacks of them around the new house. I avoided my own blog and stopped writing my book to avoid reminding myself of my languishing airplane. The home simulator has remained in boxes since the move. It was all very depressing.

In retrospect, life is good no matter how hard I try to screw it up. The very month my airplane became unavailable, FlightSafety calls to interview me as a jet instructor. The timing is amazing, and I’m hired in November, 2016. Earning my first jet type rating while learning to be an FSI instructor takes most of my time. I dive into a new chapter of aviation and begin teaching initial and recurrent clients. I push thoughts of N833DF to the back of my mind.

Adding an Astra type rating, I now teach classroom and simulator in both aircraft. Another FAA check-ride will come Aug 2nd, when I get to demonstrate that I’m proficient enough to provide progressive check-rides for recurrent clients in the Westwind on my own. Right now I instruct, but a more experience guy does the line check. I presume I’ll continue on this path, and be issuing full type checks in the next few years. As of this moment, I am planning to stay at FlightSafety (FSI) for awhile longer.

This work came along at the PERFECT time in my life.  FSI is keeping me busy and helping me to offset all of the maintenance and hangar bills required to get N833DF back on it’s tires. Once that happens, I’ll use what I earn there to support my flying activities without draining my retirement. Once I’m sure that everything works on the airplane, I’ll most likely start adding more stuff to it.

Adding some jet flying this year would help me get toward what I think of as my perfect balance. Look for that in a subsequent post. It looks like there is a strong possibility I can make that happen.

Bev and Frank’s excellent adventure continues according to plan. We’ve always planned to be where we are now in every respect. The next step in our long term vision has been to sell both of our homes and buy one home someplace nice, where we could live for the rest of our lives. Last summer Bev thought it might be time to take that step.

Over the past several years, Beverly has been keeping a very close eye on her parents. Those guys are awesome and have been living independently in their Wilmington home; well into their 80’s. Bev has been driving from Smyrna to their home and back to clean several times a week. Those trips were to manage medications and doctor visits for both of them, manage their checkbooks, and even hair cuts and hair dresser appointments since neither of them drive. Weekends at the beach became problematic with those commitments, but that was just one reason for feeling the need for change.

Bev started the ball rolling by mentioning that she’d had enough of the beach life, and wanted to know what I thought. Traffic was increasing in both locations, we were missing fun times with friends up north, and had commitments that meant the beach just added stress and workload. Taking the boat out wasn’t giving Beverly the pleasure it once did, with most of the little kids being grown now. The entire experience became more work that fun. Let’s do this.

The decision to execute being made, we listed both properties and began a search for our forever home. The new place would have either waterfront access, or a nice view, or some other amazing feature. I had always thought of moving south to warmer weather, but we just gravitated to a decision to stay local and even move further north where all of our friends and family lived.

The big move happens in the fall of 2017. Our homes were priced accurately. We found a home in Chesapeake City and purchased it. At about the same time, both homes sold. The beach house in 3 days and Smyrna in 25 days. Everyone wanted a quick settlement, including me, so all three settlements ended up in the same month! Holy overkill batman – I have to arrange movers and get packing too! I wasn’t finding it a problem to remain distracted, and ended up not following up on my airplane. I quietly hoped I’d get a phone call that it was ready, and that would be it. N833DF went further back in my mind.

It was time to let the brand new hangar go now. It was clear that I needed to release my Georgetown hangar as the 2 hour commute doesn’t make any sense. I started poking around for one up north, and my network of friends came to the rescue. The new hangar for N833DF is twice as expensive as either one I’ve previously leased, but it is only 5 minutes from where I work and 20 minutes from the new house.  This contributes handsomely to my Perfect Balance. Thanks to my good friends for finding it for me.

Fly Safe!

More fun to come as I’m flying again and getting ready to document the flight testing of N833DF’s return.







By fdorrin

Recently rated Gulfstream 280 pilot, working on instructor qualifications. WestWind and Astra corporate jet flight instructor. Contract corporate pilot. Own and operate a PA30 Twin Comanche. CFII; MEI; ME-ATP; SES; Typed in DHC-8, B-25, IAI-1124, IAI1125, G100, G280. Retired engineer / executive - Delmarva Power, Conectiv Energy, and PEPCO Holdings, Inc.