Posts about the missions we fly and their underlying motivations
I could feel my gut tightening and my brows furrowing as I pored over the spreadsheet on my computer screen. Those numbers weren't looking good, and no matter how I moved them around, they added up to one conclusion: I had a cash-flow problem.
"Take your hood off," my instructor Bill said as we were climbing out from San Jose. "I want you to experience the transition from visual to instrument conditions."
We were on an instrument flight plan and I was just a few lessons into my instrument flight training. We'd completed the lessons on basic attitude flying by reference only the instruments using a view-limiting device (the "hood") that allowed me to see only the instrument panel. On this day, however, Mother Nature was kind enough to provide the next step in my training: a nice, high cloud layer to fly around in.
The broad, featureless expanse of California's Central Valley passed by outside under a dim moonlight. My buddy Mike was driving the rental car, and we alternated periods of conversation with long stretches of satisfied silence. Just a few hours before we had both been rushing to finish up work before heading off on this long-awaited trip.
At over 128,000 feet, veteran BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner rolled back the hatch of his high-tech balloon gondola, ran his final checklists, disconnected his umbilicals, and carefully edged his way onto the step outside. From his perch far above the Earth, and almost all of its atmosphere, Felix's voice betrayed the emotions running through him.
The morning sun was streaming through the blinds when I finally awoke after a much-needed night's sleep. I'd just finished up a hard deadline at work a couple of days earlier and finally felt caught up on my rest.