Tuesday, April 7, 2009


The Chief Pilot asked me into his office. I knew what was coming: he's had to furlough a couple of pilots, and I am due for recurrent training, and there's no room for a part-timer, and the training budget is tight, and ... in other words, I'm laid off.

Well, not really. One of my partners in the Jantar is really laid off and looking for a new job. (Anyone need an aeronautical engineer/CFIG?) I'm still a professor, and my family still eats if I don't fly. Besides, I am still instructing, and that is more fun.

Still, I would like to make this into an opportunity. I have done that before. A few years ago, I was chipping away at finishing my glider rating, complaining that I was flying too much to do any flying. Then I hit a medical certification stumbling block, and was on the beach for six months. That was the opportunity to finish my glider training.

Now I have the opportunity to explore all those great places I flew over from the ground. We already began with a hiking trip to Zion National Park over Spring Break. Then, my son and I took a nice hike the other day. The meadows were unusually green; they turn brown in early summer. We found a deer carcass. I reminded him to stay close to me, since we were in mountain lion country. I've flown over this valley dozens of times, but I never worried about mountain lions before. We also got to watch tumbleweeds circle overhead, pulled aloft by a rotating thermal.

I don't mean that I have never stopped to explore. It's just that exploration requires being in someplace for longer than a quick-turn, and there are cool places like Telluride and Sandpoint and Kallispell where I have only spent an hour or so. When I had more time on the ground, I really took advantage: trips into the Sierras meant snowshoeing, back-country skiing, and mountain biking. I've rented bikes in Colorado, Idaho, and Montana, just to name the ones I can think of off the top of my head. I've gone on countless day hikes and been to countless museums. (Can you tell that I am in uniform in the hiking picture to the left?)

It's just a matter of seizing the opportunities.

The CP balked when I said "If I'm not on your certificate then I can fly for anyone I feel like." The owners don't like "moonlighting," but it's not moonlighting when they let you go. So, if you need a corporate pilot give me a shout!

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