Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Great American Race

I've been busy since my last post, and this might be a short one also.  I've been working on starting up a new company, and developing the first product to sell.  You can check crosstheskyproducts.wordpress.com if you'd like more information about it. 

I'm renewing my Flight Instructor Certificate this month also, via an online course.  For those in the know, yes, I could theoretically visit the FAA at one of their offices in a 'big city' and renew it in person.  But since I don't 'give instruction' to my Co-Pilots (under the black and white definition anyway) that interpretation depends on the individual FAA Inspector.  And it's inconvenient for me to take the time and expense to attempt a visit like that anyway.  So that's been requiring some time as well.

It's my lovely wife's Birthday today, SG is XX years old, and looks XA years old, Happy Birthday SG!  Thank you for all that you do to enable me to do what I do, cross the sky in adventure and 'mission' (without 'laptops on' I assure you).  SG is a great Mother, juggler, and hat wearer in general.

Here's just a moment from last night's arrival into DAB.  We were descending through 10,000 feet and things were getting busy, my Co-Pilot looked a little high on our descent profile to get into the traffic pattern, we were about eight minutes from landing, but I had all the confidence in him, I had flown with him before.

We were headed south, and out the windscreen the view justified this job for me again, sweet like candy.  A blob of cumulus cloud slid by to my left and a thin line of cloud was just below us.  In the gap between the two, the orange lit strip of Daytona Beach was illuminated in a line line stretching to the main cloud layer, which went to the horizon.  The beach was white with foam, some pretty large waves were breaking, especially for the east coast of Florida.  The city of Daytona Beach was inviting us in, but in a teasing manner.  The main cloud layer was blocking our view of the airport, but we expected a visual approach once we descended below it.  Shortly thereafter Daytona Approach gave us a descent down to 4,000 feet and a vector to the southwest, toward the final approach course.

Below the main layer we could see the effect of the strong winds from the east, related to Hurricane Ida, far to the west, in the Gulf of Mexico.  We needed those winds because our jet was still quite a bit high to reach the standard and safe 3 degree approach path.  "Going down and slowing down" is tricky in a swept wing jet, but my Co-Pilot had it covered.  He deftly and smoothly maneuvered us to landing, without the GPWS (Ground Proximity Warning System) barking and without violating our limitations or flight standards.  I was impressed with the way he handled it. 

Entering the approach corridor, he was too high to begin with, but I wasn't ready to say that; it was readily apparent to him.  The plane gives you room to make a few mistakes and recover, but you still have to watch what you're doing.  A 'micro-manager' Captain might have said something, but I prefer to let errors happen, to a certain point anyway.  I believe you learn from your mistakes better that way.

Daytona International Speedway, home of 'The Great American Race', the Daytona 500, is literally right next door to Daytona International Airport (DAB).  I'd never flown into here before Sunday, so it's been a good change.  So often I fly to the same twenty or so airports.  We have a fairly nice hotel too, it's near the speedway, (a huge facility BTW - 2.5 mile track & tons of seating), and the hotel has a large outdoor pool, with lots of shopping and restaurants nearby.  I joke that I'm going to enroll in the Richard Petty driving experience, and drive or ride in a real stock car on the speedway.  I'd love to, but the budget won't permit that right now.  I think NASCAR has a museum there though, which I'll try to check out next week, on another trip with DAB overnights.

(NASCAR diversion, skip if you like): I like NASCAR quite a lot, grew up watching it, and most other forms of auto racing.  I root for the 39 car, but he's had trouble winning in the last few years.  I'm reluctantly trying to switch over to root for Jimmy in the 48 car, but he's so dang good it's hard to, I feel like I'm jumping on the bandwagon.  I think he'll win his 4th Championship in a row. 

Well, I gotta run and race off to get things done for my day of flying.  Today it's DAB-CLT (Charlotte)- DAB-CLT-DCA, commute home tomorrow.  Speaking of which, lately it has felt like I'm in a great American race.  I'm excited about starting my new company though; I feel it's the beginning of something I've pondered and been inspired to do for many years now. 

I intend, though, to keep the balance in my life, like keeping the right balance in a race car.  I hope to not go too fast and blow the engine up, or miss a pit stop and run out of fuel.  God is still good, all the time.  All the time, God is still good.

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