About Me

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I would say that I am curious, vivacious, gregarious, sometimes funny, intelligent, easy going, very passionate about the things I love, caring, thoughtful, and kind. Maybe that is a little over the top, but I think you can count on me to be very honest. LOL

Friday, April 25, 2008

Featuring Friend Friday

This is an article my DH wrote for AOPA Pilot Magazine. He doesn't know I'm publishing it here to the blog world......surprise!

Never Again

Almost Questioned to Death

I remember always wanting to fly. When I was a small child living in Roy, Utah, I remember lying on my back in the tall grass of our backyard watching the planes fly over head. Our home was only a few blocks from the OGD Ogden Airport. I would line my body with the heading of the planes so I could see them approach and as they flew over tip my head back and watch them turn left. I learned later that this was the downwind to base pattern of runway 34. Countless times I rode my bike to the airport and watched the planes fly over me and the fence to land. This was for me! I wanted to fly. I was 8 years old and I pictured me in the cockpit with a big smile on my face.

In 1990 at age 40 and seven children later, I finally decided I had to somehow afford to fly. I tried taking lessons a couple of times earlier, but the cost always stopped me. This time was different. I just went out and bought a Cherokee 140 and signed up for lessons. Decision done. Dreams are not only for those who sleep. I knew a guy would have finished his ticket when he owned a plane, or surely his friends would laugh at him. I was on my way.

One of the of the greatest days of my life was when the FAA examiner signed me off. I had a plane and a ticket. Wow! Finally! I will never forget old Zaugmeister when he signed my ticket. He looked me in the eyes and said, “Here you go; now you can REALLY learn to fly.” I had no idea how right he was.

I remember all the emphasis my instructors and examiners stressed about checklists and flight planning. And of course, fuel management. I believed all I was taught and understood why. But, I was to learn; distractions are unplanned and can change your routines. Routines MUST be followed regardless of distractions or grave consequences can occur. I sure didn’t want to live my dream just to take the lives of my friends and family.

With just 120 hours of experience and too much confidence, I flew my wife and another couple to ENV Wendover, Nevada for dinner and a show. We would be flying back at night and I told them how great it would be to see the Great Salt Lake and the city lights along the Wasatch front at night. We had a marvelous flight to Wendover and a great time. On the way home the beauty was stunning. You could see a sky full of stars above and another sky below, a full reflection of stars on a smooth Great Salt Lake.

Then all the cabin talk picked up as we approached the airport. We laughed and talked of the fun we had and were enjoying. Many questions one after the other bantered around. How do you turn the lights on the runway? How did you dim the lights? How does that other plane know what you are doing? Why is Hill AFB rotating beacon blinking white-white-green and Ogden is just white-green? How did you pick the runway? Why are some runway lights white and others blue? What do you mean by VASI’s? On and on! I answered all the questions with ease and felt proud of myself. I greased the landing and everyone thought I was great. I felt great…….until I shut the plane down. Oh my! What did I just do?? As I turned the fuel selector to off, I realized I was on the low, or, more like it, empty tank. I had failed to complete my landing checklist. I was in shock and felt sick! I never switched tanks! I dared not tell my wife or my friends what I failed to do even to this day, now 18 years later. I did want them to go again didn’t I? I realized the next day when I filled the plane up just how close a call we had. We had NO fuel left. This was not the dream I had so long ago.

I shudder to think if the flight would have been two minutes longer, would we have made it? Running out of fuel on approach would have put me into apartment buildings, ones I even owned. Would I have switched tanks quick enough, or even known what had gone wrong? Would there have been enough time? Boy was old Zaugmeister right!! I was learning to fly, but at what risk?

I humbled myself that day and have become a very meticulous pilot. Flying is for fun. Never make it scary. New rules applied, quiet time in the cabin on take off and landings, always! Written checklists are always and completely followed. No exceptions! No exceptions! Later, I even purchased a new intercom for my 260 Comanche that can isolate me from the cabin chatter just in case someone breaks my rules. My job is to fly the plane, to fly it safely. This is the only way my dream can live. My passengers trust me and I can’t let them down. Never again will I jeopardize so much because of distractions or for the lack of following a simple checklist.


nancy mc said...

Nice Article. I remember asking questions like the ones mentioned on a flight home from Wendover. Scary!

La Dolce Vita with LeAnn said...

Yes, Nancy I think it was probably you! Scary is right.