Posts about pilot skills, knowledge, and judgment
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.
The scattered clouds above us were bunching up a little closer together and we had rising terrain ahead. My wife Janet, my parents, and Eddie Pippin, Canine Aviator were VFR on our way North through Oregon in my club's A36 Bonanza. A cold front had passed through earlier leaving some scattered clouds and it was time to climb above them. I steered for a break in the clouds and started a slow, circling climb to top them. Soon we were back on course above the ragged, cottony-white layer. The forecast for our destination was good and I knew I could get a pop-up IFR clearance if needed to get back down. It was a stunning day and we were thoroughly enjoying the view.
"Gas: fullest tank; undercarriage: down and locked; mixture: rich; prop: forward," I called out as I entered the pattern in my club's A36 Bonanza on a left 45 for runway 31 at Hollister airport, just 40 miles Southeast of my home airport of San Jose. Following my usual practice, I did this "GUMP" check twice more: once on base leg and again on final approach.
I was drifting between wakefulness and fitful sleep as I rolled over in bed, trying to get comfortable, when I suddenly jolted fully awake with a shot of adrenaline. What would happen to our housing costs if we couldn't find a place to live in our price range? We had just sold our house and were renting it from the new owners for a limited time. We needed to find a new place to live soon—in the most competitive real-estate market we'd ever seen!
"Controls, instruments, brakes," I called out breathlessly as I sat on the runway in the glider waiting for a tow.
"Whoa, whoa—slow down!" my instructor Jimmy interrupted. "It's been a while since you've flown, so you need to be extra careful. Take that checklist again from the top—slowly!"
Filed under Pilot by