Now I've Gone and Done It...

Well, I passed my 135 checkride yesterday and got started on IOE... Guess I have to go back to work now, whether I like it or not. I am looking forward to flying here, and it has felt good to be back in a 207, I forgot how much I liked that plane. I still only have the internet at work, but when I get home in a couple weeks I'll post some pictures from Bethel and the Y-K Delta (Yukon Kuskokwim river delta).
Cessna 207
Cessna 208


And so it begins

Today I arrived in Bethel, Alaska. Normally that would be enough information for you to know how my day is going. And you would be right.

But first, the story of how I got here...

It started yesterday evening on Alaska Airlines flight 67 from Juneau to Anchorage, a boring enough flight, and especially so since this was to be done under cover of darkness.
However, what transpired was a rare treat, it was in fact, a rather pleasant airliner ride. To start, the cabin crew were exceptionally friendly, probably given they were all on their way home to Anchorage for the last flight of the day... And the flight crew actually took pride in their work, something that all too often seems lacking these days. I knew these guys were different than the norm when we taxied into position and hold on Juneau's runway 8, the Captain actually turned towards the END as in the very end of the runway before lining up on the center line rather than just pulling out. That gave us at least another 50 feet of usable runway, not that we needed it or anything, but it was nice to see I was not the only one taught to use ALL available runway. I used to do the same thing when I flew the Brasilia and my FO would always give me that look. You know the one, "I think your insane, this is not your bush-plane toy and we don't do things like that here, but if it so amuses you to indulge in this act of mischief then so be it, you're the Captain, but I still think your strange..." kind of look. Anyway, the takeoff was what we call the "Lemon Crick" (that's creek for you normal people) Departure, it involves a relatively steep climbing right 180 off of runway 8 to avoid rising terrain up to 4000 feet within a couple miles of the airport. Did I mention this was at night, and it was overcast and raining? Of course one could not see the mass of granite just beyond the airport, hiding in the darkness like an evil trap set for the unwary aviator, waiting to snare anyone who dare trespass into their domain. all was uneventful the rest of the flight, despite 130kt winds aloft blowing over the Fairweather Mountains beneath us. Oh yes, I forgot to tell you that our crew thoughtfully gave us passengers in the back a friendly and honest heads-up on both the unusual departure (dictated by the winds) and on the potential turbulence aloft. All was smooth, though, as we sailed through the night at FL360, a mere twinkling aberration in the darkness, the muffled, hollow drone of our engines the only hint of our presence to anyone unfortunate enough to be somewhere in that seemingly bottomless night. The Passengers were unusually pleasant as well, with no screaming kids, no noise really at all... The elderly lady sitting across from me even shared some of her snacks with me. I tell you, those crackers with almond butter and strawberry jam really hit the spot... Finally I dozed off a bit, only to awake just as we were crossing the threshold of runway 7R in Anchorage, and again I was impressed with the crews willingness to FLY the plane and not just drive it. I heard the engines spool up ever so slightly as he held it off the runway, finally rolling it on in what I believe was the smoothest landing I have ever been treated to in an airliner. It was "Cessna 207-with-an-aft-CG-landing-in-an-inch-of-powder-snow-on-top-of-smooth-gravel-with-no-wind" smooth... Amazing. As it turns out an old friend of mine that I used to instruct was also on board and he kindly gave me a ride to my hotel, where after wandering around trying to find dinner at 11:00pm I finally went to sleep.

This morning I awoke early to catch a company flight to Bethel, but being a non-rev I was bumped. Needing to get to work today I finally ended up getting a ticket (thanks Mom!) on a competing airline who was the only one to have a seat open the rest of the day.

What followed was not as enjoyable as yesterday.

First, it was on a Beech 1900, with the only space for a carry-on bag being where my feet belong. This after having to stuff my laptop bag into one of my checked bags to combine them in an effort to avoid a $75 fee for excess baggage. Don't get me wrong, normally I love smaller planes, the smaller the better, and from a Brasilia Captains point of view, a Beech 1900 has a little bit of a toy airplane feel to it. None the less, this flight sucked. First, it was cold. Really cold. PT-6's have bleed air you know guys, turn it on please... And I don't mind at all if you want to hand-fly the whole way, but at least learn to fly first, okay? And just when I thought there was hope for airline pilots these days too... Oh well.

And now I am here, I am tired now and will tell of what followed later in the day, but it was nothing particularly interesting, just a ride to a village north of here and some book work...

I'll post more later...


Photo of the Week

TEMSCO Helicopters at Skagway Alaska


Been quiet lately

Sorry for not updating my blog lately. I have not been feeling very social while my job was in a state of flux... However all seems to have settled down for now and I am preparing to head off to work FINALLY on Tuesday next week. For those that don't know, I was hired by an airline operating in western Alaska to fly a Cessna Caravan. Unfortunately, one of their Caravans was involved in a little incident last week and will be down for repairs for several months. Hence the stress over my position... Fortunately they have offered to put me to work flying a Cessna 207 (known in these parts as the "sled") and probably a Piper Navajo as well. I am looking forward to being a "Sled Driver" again, as I think that its a wonderful plane. Hopefully soon I will be flying my faithful old friend, the Chieftain, and after that revisit that sweetest flying of Cessna's, The Caravan. All three of these planes have treated and served me well in the past, so heres to many uneventful hours to come... I'll post some pictures and stories about my new job when I get there. That is, if the internet works good enough out there in Bethel... If not, I'll be back home in the middle of November and promise an update then.


Photo of the Week

Juneau Float Pond.
click for full screen image.


Sittin' Pretty

I was scanning alot of my old pictures yesterday and came across this one I thought you all would like.

My old Pacer basking in the late afternoon sunlight on Freemont Island, in the middle of the Great Salt Lake, with the Wasatch Mountains as a backdrop.
From Photo Archive

View of the upper strip on Freemont.

Show some respect.

I watched an episode of "Grizzly Diaries" last night, a series broadcast on Animal Planet. It tells the stories that the late Timothy Treadwell wanted us all to hear and I am glad someone has finally put together the years of filming and commentary he created to show to the world in its intended context. For those that don't know, Treadwell A.K.A. "The Grizzly Man" spent many summers living in the Alaskan wilderness, in the Katmai area. He had devoted his life to observing and documenting the bears, foxes and other wild animals that lived there. Unfortunately, many in our society who have probably never left the urban jungle and wouldn't understand nature in any form have criticized this man, attacking him personally. They say he was crazy for living unprotected from nature, with the wild animals. Well who says we should protect ourselves from nature anyway? Aren't we PART of nature? Are the bears dangerous? ABSOLUTELY. Did Timothy know this? ABSOLUTELY. He knew what he was doing, and he loved that way of life, and he loved nature and the animals around him. But he also understood the risks. He knew that at any time he could pay with his life in exchange for experiencing things very few humans ever will. He also understood the rarity of what he was able to witness and took it upon himself to document it in detail, founding "Grizzly People" an organization dedicated to protecting the bears and their environment. When he was not in the wilderness, he spent a great deal of his time traveling to schools donating his time to teach children about the bears and other animals, how they interact, and how humans have impacted their way of life in the "Grizzly Maze". Sadly he died in 2003 when he and his partner, Amie Huguenard were attacked by a bear. Now, some say he "got what he deserved". How disrespectful can you be? He died doing what he loved! We all should be so lucky! No one attacked Steve Irwin personally, or called him crazy or anything else. Why is Timothy any different? They both brought new understanding of the animals they respectively observed. The part that I think a lot of people have a hard time with it that unlike Mr. Irwin, Treadwell went out in the wilderness unarmed, and usually alone for months at a time. He got to know individual animals and learned their mannerisms the same way we would with our pets. He talked to the animals, and yes, acted pretty goofy sometimes. But did anyone think to take this in context? I talk to my dog, does this make me crazy? No more so does it for Timothy to talk to "his" foxes... And as for his goofy behavior, a sure sign of mental problems? You have to remember he was filming, and "acting" in his own documentaries for the benefit of CHILDREN, not US. In context he wasn't any different than the guy who dressed up in a "Barney" costume everyday or any number of other silly things people do to entertain kids. Timothy wasn't perfect. In the "civilized" world he had contempt for certain aspects of society, and had had alcohol problems in the past. But the important part to remember, is he was passionate about what he did, loved nature, loved animals, and did everything he could to protect them and their environment. He put his life on the line to learn what he could, he found his own way, his own path, and for that I have the greatest respect for him. I encourage anyone to watch "Grizzly Diaries". You'll see some of the most incredible footage of wild animals at close range, and the antics of the foxes are hilarious.

Here is the Trailer for a documentary by Werner Herzog.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

Good for a laugh

We might as well make fun of the commies while we still can right?
This clip was on the Glenn Beck show yesterday, I knew I had to find it on youtube as soon as I saw it...



On a lighter note, Here's a picture of my dog, Noni.

Well, it's that time again. Time to blame everyone and everything but ourselves for everything wrong with the world. That's right, ELECTION TIME IS NEAR! YAY! Unfortunately it's the same old B.S. from Washington and the candidates, with the mud slinging and the finger-pointing. And if I hear one more person talk about so-and-so's plan to "create jobs" blood is going to shoot out of my eyes... (sorry Glenn...) Those candidates can't create jobs! Business owners do that. How? By having the capital available to do so, by having less overhead in their operation to afford employees and by having a healthy economy in which people can afford to spend their hard earned money at said businesses. So how can your friendly Feds help here? Only one way to do it and that is to LOWER TAXES. That puts more money into the hands of everyone, including the feds! I understand why its so popular to jump on the "soak the rich" bandwagon, after all, why should they have all the money right? well they should have it because they know how to get it, they earned it and I HAVE NO RIGHT TO ANY OF IT. Likewise, nobody, including the feds, has any right to MY money. "Government Tax Dollars"? BULL, that money belongs to the people and we should no more take it from the rich to give to the poor (socialism) than we should take it from the taxpayer and give it to those who HAD money and either got greedy or were too stupid to keep their businesses solvent. The "bailout" last week is not only another in a string of steps towards socialism, it rewards bad behavior. Did we the people vote to go $700 Billion in the hole? I sure didn't. The fundamental problem here is this idea that we as citizens are somehow entitled to money, jobs, houses, cell phones or whetever. We are not entitled to ANYTHING except those rights as laid out in the Bill of Rights. Nowhere does it say that if your business is about to fail, or if your state spent too much money on illegals (that's you California, oh yea, $11 BILLION on that one alone last year....) that the federal government either has the power or the responsibility to "bail you out". I am sorry, but those businesses should be allowed to fail, and that is exactly what would happen if the free market was allowed to function properly without federal intervention. Just like we don't need Bush to tell us we all have to start burning corn in our cars, without any help from Uncle Sam when gas got expensive enough (probably around $10.00 Gallon) people will sure as $&!@ start using alternative fuels on their own. Instead of asking for yet more money to be pulled out of my @$$ to fund commie programs for illegals and whatever else they are wasting money on in California, how about they oh, I don't know... SPEND LESS! Just like I do when I don't have enough for what I want...
And another thing! If I hear one more idiot talk about socialized health care I'm going to lose it more than I already have. Most of us already have coverage from our employers, do you really thing the people that brought us the DMV could do it any better? Please. And those that don't have insurance either don't want it (like myself for a long time. Why pay for something I don't use?) Or can't afford it. For the last group maybe if the feds didn't tax the crap out of us more could afford coverage on their own. And for those truly in need, they can even now use several options already provided for like Medicare, Medicaid etc. and as a last resort just go to the emergency room and sort it out later (not that I condone that, but you do what you gotta do...)

Ok, so here is my point tonight. Like most of you reading this, I want a REAL LEADER in the White House. It should be obvious that I am no democrat, but I don't consider myself to be a republican either. I do consider myself to be very conservative. I believe in the Constitution and what the Founding Fathers envisioned for our country. However more and more it seems that the constitution doesn't matter anymore, and the politicians seem to have everyone brainwashed about what is really in the Bill of Rights with all these entitlements everyone is so conditioned to expect these days. So this isn't a McCain vs. Obama rant, they seem more alike than different to me. This is about the direction our country is going, what it should and could mean to the world. I truly believe that the vast majority of Americans want the same basic things. A free, safe and prosperous nation in which we are able to live our own way without fighting amongst ourselves. With the ability, and more importantly, the will to except personal responsibility and take care of ourselves.

I'll leave you with that to chew on. A nice break from the "all airplanes all the time" blog you thought this was :o)


Picture of the Week

Each week, I'll post a new picture from my archive. This week is a Cessna landing on Lake Hood, Anchorage. You can click on it for a full screen image.

Found an old friend

The more I get around, the more I realize what a small community aviation really is. I keep running into people and planes that I had known in the past... Be it running into an old friend unloading lumber from his DC-3 in Kokhanok, AK who I last saw in 1998 in Salt Lake, or even as close to home as my own plane, which was owned by a friend when I was in high school... Most recently I was walking around Lake Hood in Anchorage with a friend I hadn't seen in a couple months taking pictures of the planes on a beautiful fall day. I just happened to look around a corner of a hangar and saw none other than the very Cessna 152 that I had made my second ever solo flight, N915AA, back in Abilene, TX. The years have taken thier toll on the paint and she was missing some avionics but other than that she was pretty much as I remembered her, only she seemed a little smaller now? Maybe its just me, since I was 17 the last time I was near that plane... So, heres to old friends, may we meet again someday, somewhere...
Click on the pictures for a full screen image.


My new Blog

Welcome to my new Blog. This is a place where I will share stories from my life, my career, and generally ramble about whatever comes to mind. The plane in my header is my 1963 Piper Apache 235, and I will probably tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the type in future posts, but what can I say, I'm proud of my plane... :o) More to follow when something actually comes to mind... Until then, here are some videos from YouTube that I like. The first one I found, the others I made myself over the past couple years.

Just a cool video I found, sadly this plane crashed on 2-26-2006, killing the pilots.

Summer 2008 as seen from a pilots (mine) perspective in Southeast Alaska.

Scenes from my career in aviation from my private pilot days to an EMB-120 Captain.

Photos and video from my year flying in Hawaii.