Thursday, November 1, 2007

Flying and talking.

Oh yeah, that reminds me!

On the very first flying trip I took with the family after I got my pilots license it turns out I said something stupid again.

Summer time in Texas makes for a lot of thermal activity. Flying through rising and sinking air can make for a rough ride. Another thing that can make a rough ride is the wind. Just like moving water hitting rocks in a stream and making white water, moving air hitting buildings and trees, etc make for turbulent rough air.

For our first trip as a family we were going to my in-laws. It is an 8+ hour drive and in my first plane it’s a 3 hour flight (I have a faster plane now and its only two hours now) My wife was terrified of flying. Her only incentive to get into this plane was to cut 6 hours off the trip to see her family. Of course, my then 10 year old son can not WAIT to get into the plane. He thought this was going to be way cool!

So we left at 6:00 Am on Saturday morning. It was cool and the wind was dead calm. As we departed the ride was like a canoe on a glassy pond or like a Cadillac on new asphalt; Smooooooth. My ex was digging it! The ride was so smooth she wondered what she was ever afraid of.

The plan was to do the same thing Sunday morning, leave by at least 9:00 am so we would get back to Dallas before it got too hot and the winds started kicking up.

But oh no! The in-laws made a breakfast spread fit for two kings and the coffee and the talk, talk, talk went on and on. I kept saying, "Honey we got to go, it's going to get hot and rough, I don't mind but you wont like it at all!"
"Just one more cup of coffee dear", and the gab-fest continued.

We did not get off the ground until 1:00 PM. That put us in Dallas at 4:00, the hottest time of the day. It was like 109 degrees and the wind was HOWLING at 25+ plus miles per hour. In the very small plane I had then the ride was comparable to off roading or white water rafting. It was ROUGH.

Predictably, the ex is terrified, she is sitting in the center of the back seat holding the grab handles above each door for dear life. Here eyes were closed and occasionally she would even whimper in fear. Meanwhile, my son, up in the front seat with me, is having a pretty good time. "Weeeee! Hit another bump Dad!"

We finally arrive at the home airport, it's almost over! I lined up with the runway and started descending to the runway for landing. I hit an updraft. A big mass of rising hot air. I am trying to go down and this is lifting me up. It's a glider pilots dream but I want down! I put in all the flaps (air brakes for all intents and purposes) and brought the engine back to complete idle but I still am not going down and the runway is getting closer. I am going to be too high and too close to make a landing.

This is where pilot training kind of bit me. Again, in training we are always talking out loud. If my instructor was sitting beside me he can see we are too high and too close and he is wondering if I know it. So I would say it when I realize it so he knows that I know.

This is a pretty standard situation. It happens all the time, you just put the power back in circle around and set up to land again- its called a "go around". As pilots we are told over and over again to never push a bad set up, just go around and set up again.

Anyone remember that Southwest Airlines flight that ran off the end of the runway in Chicago a few years ago? This was exactly the situation they were in. Too high and too close but instead of going around they pushed it and then they were going to fast to stop before the end of the runway.

So, as I am looking down seeing that we are too high and too close I decided that we were not going to make a landing on this setup. So talking to my "instructor" I said out loud, "We are not going to make it." and got ready to go around. Which I dreaded because everyone including me was ready to end this rough ride.

Maybe ten seconds go by and my inner self says to me, "Hey stupid, what words did you just say out loud? Did you just tell your terrified wife "We are not going to make it"?"
"Uh", I replied to myself, "Well yes, I did say those words but it should be obvious what I meant. Besides, they probably did not even hear me."
"Oh really? Why don't you take a look and see?"

So I looked over at my then 10 year old son in the seat next to me and I will never forget his big blue eyes looking up at me in complete terror! Oh, yeah, he heard me. So if the one who has not been scared is now terrified because of my big mouth what does the already terrified one in the back seat look like?

I look back and she had one arm looped though the handhold, both feet are braced against the back seats and she has one hand over her eyes. She may even be making peace with her God. I'm not sure.

OK Rob, pull your foot out of you mouth now! "No, no, no guys! That is not what I meant! We are fine, we are safe, we are just not going to make a landing this time around! It's OK I swear!"
And we did make a nice easy landing after all.

On the bright side, on all future trips, we always got out before it got hot! I never ever heard "Just one more cup of coffee" again.


Michelle said...

Good job Dad! LOL

domestic_valerie said...

I always get much more worried when my husband/pilot *doesn't* speak.

But yeah...I wouldn't want to hear those words when coming up on the tarmac. ;)

Rob said...

OH! You poor dear, so you are a mistress to an aluminum structure too huh?

Learn to fly! There is only one thing hotter than a women pilot and that is a women on a motorcycle.

Jules said...

This one is only hysterical to me because I wasn't one of the people in the plane with you!

Anonymous said...

I would have LOVED watching you put that plane down. You could have talked your little heart out!!