Thursday, November 11, 2010

Duck, Duck, Goose

My student Dan is hustling to finish his Private before he has to move, so we've been flying every day. This has required a little creativity on my part since my University workload seems so much heavier this semester.

Yesterday afternoon was turning into yesterday evening after an unusually moist morning. The ceiling was on the low side, but not too low to stay in the pattern. Turning downwind for the first time I saw about 40 geese flying just a couple of hundred feet above, headed north. I swear, they were heading north! I mentioned this to the tower, but the radio call included "Oh! There's another flock! And another! And another!" The birds actually winter in the nearby marshes.

Another airplane was out flying a practice ILS, and the tower duly warned them about the birds, and I felt like a good citizen. And, sure enough, every pattern brought a new bird sighting.

"Birds, 10 o'clock," I would say. On the first few patterns Dan acknowledged, but soon he was no longer seeing them. Experience really does make a difference.

And the birds were getting lower. A flock of 25 or so passed below us, and in the gathering twilight they were getting harder and harder to see. Dan didn't see the large flock even though they were very close.

I started to think how lucky we were not be flying at night with so many birds in the pattern. Lucky? With the clouds and the glare, it was already night, even though the regulations say that we had an hour of "daytime" left.

So we called it a day.

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