Head in the Clouds, India


It occurred to me the other day that I haven’t blogged about my IFR training in forevar.
I think that’s more a function of I-stopped-doing-IFR-training-because-I-only-have-so-much-flying-monies- and-the-summer-weather-has-been-just-too-damn-beautiful-to-be-spending-it- under-a-training-hood than… y’know, any other factor.
In late August, I flew myself to Portland’s1 Hillsboro airport.
It’s a six hour flight with a fuel stop, and cost over $1,0002. Sure Alaska airlines would’ve gotten me there in ninety minutes at a quarter of the cost, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun.
I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
I learned more about myself, as a pilot, a software engineer, and an individual, than I have in… quite awhile. Of course, being aloft at 10,000 feet, flying along the Northern Californian coast, and then inland across western Oregon’s beautiful, seemingly endless deep-green forests has a tendency to… be conducive to that kind of contemplative thought.
I highly recommend it if you’ve never had the opportunity. ;-)
I flew up (and back) alone3, but since it was my first flight out of both the state and beyond the boundaries of a Californian ARTCC—Helloooo Seattle Center!—my friends demanded that I have a camera (video and still), a voice recorder to grab all the interesting interaction with air traffic control, and that I file4 flight plans, so they could “fly along.” I got some incredible pictures and some great footage.
I finally sat down this weekend to digitize some of the video.
This was on the way up to Portland, landing at KCEC, my fuel-stop airport. The video camera was placed on the dash of the plane, not held, so the camera depicts accurate movement of the aircraft itself.
Oh, and for those that don’t readily do the conversion from knots to mph5, the (cross)winds were eighteen mph, gusting to about thirty mph6.

Link to the video above, for pesky, <object>-stripping feed readers.

Every time I watch this video, I have to remind myself that the pilot is, in fact, me.
Sure, it’s not my prettiest approach ever7… and I’ve certainly had smoother landings… but when push came to shove, it’s a pretty concrete reminder that I do, in fact, possess the ability to handle the situation to a successful outcome8.
Of course, any situation can become overwhelming… in which cases, material like this video is useful in helping to figure out where the lines between a “fix it” and a go-around are.
Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, when the approach gets bumpy, it’s easy to forget that one possesses those skills… and those options.
But there’s nothing better than a beautiful, long flight with only you, your chariotplane, and the endless blue sky… to remind you that you do… and if you use them, it’ll all be fine.
1 Oregon, not Maine
2 Yet more proof that you don’t take up flying because it’s faster or cheaper
3 Which means I was stuck doing my own drink and snack service
4 and close
5 Like *cough* me…
6 Astute viewers will be probably be able to see the points at which I caught one of those nice, thirty mph gusts…
7Especially in retrospect.
8A testament to my instructor, to be sure.