Monday, July 29, 2013

Don't Go By Air

If you absolutely, positively, have to be there... don't go by air. A common joke in the GA community and one that should be taken to heart whenever planning a trip to a place that you need to get to via light airplane. If you really need to get there, especially by a specific time, always have a plan B.

The Plan

In our case we were planning on flying a new-to-us plane from San Jose to Centennial Airport near Denver for the bi-annual family reunion last week. The route was to be similar to the route we flew two years ago. South around the southern Sierras then crossing the Rocky Mountains at either La Veta Pass or near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The plane is a Beech Debonair similar in design to the Beech Bonanza we flew to Centennial two years ago, but a little slower and able to carry a bit less payload. This Debonair was fresh out of annual and my husband had spent almost 4 hours flying it to get acquainted with the plane, none of it in cruise flight aside from brief trips to/from practice areas. This was going to be my first flight in it. While I could legally PIC the plane, being high performance and complex endorsed, I would not be PIC of this flight having not flown a Bonanza in more than straight and level or gentle descending flight and never flown a Debonair. It felt weird not being PIC, especially for a cross country trip, but I suppose my husband should be allowed to be PIC once in a while.

The New Plan

The day of our departure the weather was fine in Northern California but afternoon thunderstorms were building southeast along our planned route of flight and the following day's forecast for the same route seemed worse. The weather briefer suggested going to Reno and staying there for the night and then taking a northern route through Utah and Wyoming into Colorado instead of south towards Needles (one of our possible stopping points for the first leg south) and the rest of our original route into Colorado. "At least Reno has a lot of hotels. Better than being stuck in Needles!" The briefer said.  We also have good friends who live in Reno and liked the idea of having an excuse to visit them. That seemed like a good plan. We were both familiar with the route to Reno so we got into the plane and took off for Reno with no more planning done.

The Flight

I quickly got introduced to the ancient seeming avionics in the plane. They still worked but this was the oldest set of radios I'd ever used. Both of them were labeled COM1 but the top one was COM1 and the bottom was COM2. To switch frequencies we used a three step process. Program the new frequency into the radio not in use, then switch the monitor to that radio and then switch the mike. If you wanted to talk inside the plane you had to switch the radio to intercom.  For someone that is used to radios that have "flip/flops" on each radio and being able to talk inside the plane at all times, this took some getting used to. COM2 had better sound than COM1. I could barely hear what the controllers said on COM1 and we resorted to yelling to each other rather than switching between intercom and radios. Our "system" worked well until the PIC forgot which radio we were talking to ATC on and set the wrong radio to ATIS for Reno. Normally I would have written down the frequencies but I was working very hard at not being PIC and deliberately didn't do some of the things I normally do when I am PIC in order to make sure I knew who was. Looking back this was a mistake. In any case, between the two of us we remembered one recent frequency. We switched to that frequency and then were redirected to the correct frequency.

The PIC asked me to fly the plane as he "worked out some things". We were getting close to the Sierras now and Blue Canyon airport. I was very familiar with the terrain and the route to Reno having flown this same route on my solo cross country adventure less than two months before. I asked him to turn off the auto-pilot so I could get the feel of flying the plane. It seemed reasonably responsive to control inputs and easy to hold in straight and level flight. He kept calculating and recalculating something, but I didn't know what. I did notice we weren't going any faster in ground speed than I did on my prior trip in the 182 and this was supposed to be a faster plane. It was then that I realized that I didn't know what the winds aloft were near Reno. I would know that if I had planned the flight. I didn't like not knowing if our "slow" ground speed was due to winds or something else.  I didn't even know what to expect from this plane as "normal". It turns out our PIC didn't either, but there were other things on his mind.

We were lucky to have smooth air over the Sierras until we started descending for Reno. Lucky for us, if there is one thing my husband is good at is putting a plane where he wants it. We were high coming into the Reno airspace and he was able to easily get the plane down using the gear as an air brake. He was caught a little by surprise by the high ground speed at the high DA airport (Reno is about 5000' elevation) on landing and his hand slipped off the throttle after we landed. He asked me to pull the throttle out as we rolled forward on the runway. I had to quickly determine which of the three "knobs" was the throttle. Fortunately he had already had me work on the mixture during the flight and the blue knob was obviously the prop, so that left only one. I pulled the throttle to idle and the PIC kept control of the plane on the runway and we were good.

The New New Plan

Our friends met us at the airport and we went out to dinner and spent some time hanging out. It was great to have an excuse to spend time with them and we were lucky they were available and had room for us to stay the night. Through dinner and spending time with our friends I could tell something was bothering the PIC. I didn't quite know what it was but something was up. He explained he wasn't sure if the plane was OK for sure. The airspeed seemed off, the oil temperature and pressure didn't behave as he expected on climb out and cruise on the way to Reno. Even accounting for the fact that IAS would be different at higher altitudes than near sea level, something was strange. He was pretty sure the plane would be able to continue the flight but, it was bothering him.

After dinner was over we spent considerable time working out our route to Centennial with plenty of potential stopping places if the weather (or the plane) turned bad. He was still researching what could be going on with the plane when I went upstairs to get some sleep. When I went upstairs I got online and checked for available flights on Southwest Airlines from Reno to Denver. Surprisingly, there were 10 different flights with seats available for the next day. I had credit on Southwest from previous tickets so even the cost seemed attractive.

Exchange between dad and daughter.
He came upstairs finally. I said, "Hey, would you feel any better if I said we could fly commercial?" He looked a bit relieved. "Yeah", he said. "I'm thinking the plane is telling me something and its not happy." Both of us had that instant feeling of "rightness" that comes from making a decision that your gut knows is the right one. We weren't convinced the plane was really having a major issue, but we both felt better not to have to prove it by flying it to Centennial.

Thus we had Plan C. We would all fly to Denver via SWA. My daughter and I would fly directly back to San Jose on SWA when our vacation was done. He would fly back to Reno a week later when his work was done and fly the plane back to home base.

I texted my Dad to let him know about the change in plans. I knew he was worried about us flying out with the weather that was going on and didn't want him to worry any more. My Dad has a PHD in Meteorology so he was not only worried, he was knowledgeable about the weather risks in the late summer monsoon season. This led to an amusing exchange.


Right now, my daughter and I are home safe and sound, the plane is sitting in Reno and my husband is in Denver working. This coming Sunday (or Monday depending on weather) he will fly the plane back to RHV and we'll figure out what the plane was trying to tell us. In the mean time I've learned quite a few lessons from this little adventure:
  • When taking a new plane out for  a long cross country trip, its a good idea to do a short cross country trip, or at least spend some time doing normal cruise flight, before departing. Thus you know what "normal" is. 
  • Even if I'm not PIC, it doesn't hurt for me to do a little PIC-like planning and research on the plane I'm in for a long cross country flight.  For one thing I would be more comfortable and for another I'd be more useful. 
  • And even if I'm not PIC, it doesn't hurt for me to do my normal drill of writing frequencies, knowing the route, etc, etc. for the same reason.
A good pilot is always learning, even when that pilot isn't the PIC :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Sunday I flew up to the Napa Valley Airport to shorten my transport time up to Napa for a two day work offsite meeting. I am lucky my current employer does not specifically exclude employees from flying themselves to events. I'd never flown to Napa before. Never had reason to fly there and the steakhouse at the airport has been closed for years. The flight there was smooth and short and I was checked in to the hotel and back at work over an hour before my coworkers arrived on their bus.

This afternoon I flew back. The winds were strong but no issue for me or the 172 I was in. The wind just made the plane want to jump off the runway even quicker than usual. Another short flight, this time with a bank of low clouds off my right wing as I flew the corridor from Concord towards Calaveras. The flight was smooth, the air was clear and the clouds were pretty to watch. I came in to land, touched down gently and was off the runway easily at Charlie. As I taxied back to the flight club I was happy and at peace with the world. The life was good. I wanted to think I'd be getting right back into a plane tomorrow, just like I did day after day on my long desert southwest tour earlier this year. That would make life even better.

For now I'll just be happy that I can afford to fly and to train. While I don't fly as often as I'd like, I am still able to fly and train and work towards that day that I can make flying my vocation as well as my hobby. That would really be the life.

Hmmm, I've thought of flying as something I want to make my vocation many times.  I looked up the word "vocation" what does that really mean?
"A vocation (Latin vocātiō - a call, summons) is an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which he or she is suited, trained, or qualified."
Yeah, that's about right. My vocation. Not right now, but I know it will be if I keep on my path.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bits of Coolness

A couple short flights made for a fun week last week as I got my groove back and my daughter got to explore what it's like to fly a plane.

Slight Tweaking for Me

The first flight for me was with my CFI so he could diagnose the little difficulties I've been having in the pattern and with my straight in landings. In no time he figured out what I was doing in the pattern. I was flying too close to the runway, turning too soon and not staying on top of the power as much as I needed to. These problems were much more obvious at South County because I was using different visual cues to line up on downwind and turn than I use flying a right pattern at Reid-Hillview. Some quick tweaks and I was back on track in the pattern.

Then it was time for the visual straight in to Reid. This is something I've never really been good at especially in faster planes. I was good enough in 172s but tending too high and fast in 182s and Arrows. We talked through it thoroughly on the ground and instead of staying high as long as I was used to, I was to get down to pattern altitude 3 miles out at 15" of MP then go ahead and do the landing process. One the way back my approach was better but I was still a bit behind and high and fast, but not near as high or fast as "usual". We talked about the final tweak I needed to further improve after landing and I felt confident I could execute on the plan next time.

A Chick Flies

My Daughter
"Clicks Fly!"

Then it was my daughter's turn. She was going to go up and do a pinch hitter training flight. The same thing that got me flying 3 years ago. She's 14, almost 15, and it is time to get her to the point she can land a plane if the worst happened to myself or my husband while flying. She went up in the Arrow. I figured she doesn't know these planes are complex, its just a plane to her. Turns out I was right. She did fantastic. As a young lady she doesn't have the adult baggage and she's bright, she's been observing us flying for 5 years now and she listens well when she's engaged.

In what seemed like no time she was back from her flight. At first she didn't say anything but she later ran out to tell me how great she did. She had fun flying and said she was over her fear of landings now. She landed the plane twice she said. My CFI later reported she darned near landed herself twice and she only needed one more flight. Just to navigate a bit and try a couple more landings.

Two days later she went back up for her second flight. CFI took off, turned the plane downwind and gave her the controls. She programmed the GPS for South County and flew herself down to that airport and landed the plane. After that my CFI had her take off from South County (he helped with that) and they flew back to Reid and landed again. Done, in two flights and less than two hours my kiddo has better than a snowball's chance to save herself in case of a medical emergency in a small plane. She also got a small taste of what its like to be in control of a light aircraft and fly. I think she liked it!

It Works

Saturday I went back up in the Arrow to practice what my CFI taught (or re-taught) me. I took a friend with me and we flew down to Hollister. The winds there favored runway 24 which I had never landed before, which was very good. That meant I couldn't rely on unconscious clues to fly. I was much improved down there and even did a series of correct adjustments to make my pattern even better.  It was quite fun and my friend was great company helping me spot planes in the pattern and opening the passenger door on the ground to cool off the cockpit.

Only one more thing to try, the straight in to Reid. On the way back I reviewed what I would do. Down to 1300 feet or 1200 feet 3 miles out at 15" of MP. Then level off, gear down, manage manifold pressure and start the process with the flaps much quicker than before. It worked and it made sense. I ended up on glide slope, not too high, not too fast. I had to do some minor tweaks with the power to adjust for winds and up/downdrafts but had a very nice, smooth landing. It was a beautiful thing.

This week my daughter and I both got to experience some real joy in flight and that is just plane cool.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Short Approach and Confusing Clearances

Two days ago, on July 4th, I flew up to Santa Rosa's Charles M. Schultz Airport (STS) for lunch at the Sky Lounge, one of my favorite "$100 hamburger" spots. This time I had friends with me in two other planes. I flew an Arrow, my husband, Jeff, and a friend of his in a 180HP conversion 172 and my other friend, Craig, with his wife and daughter in another 172. We would meet another friend of mine from the 172 club forum who lived near STS as well.

We all left from our flight club at Reid-Hillview at the same time, so we had to decide what order we would leave in. Since I was in the fastest plane, I got to go first, then my husband and finally Craig. We all requested a Bay Tour for our route north since weather was good. I flew alone and have to admit I was happy that way. Since my long solo adventure in the beginning of June I've become accustomed to flying alone and it was nice to be up there with only my thoughts, ATC chatter and the hum of the engine to accompany me. It was fun to hear the other planes in my little group as each switched to the frequency I was on after me as I lead the way up the coast. After an extended heat wave there were few clouds near San Francisco but those few were quite pretty. Gossamer wisps of white floating over the city streets of San Francisco gleaming below.

The flight was uneventful until I got into Santa Rosa's airspace. That airspace was crowded and the tower was very busy directing both experienced and inexperienced pilots around the pattern for the two runways. I contacted the tower and was told to report midfield downwind for 14. As I came closer the tower pointed out potentially opposing traffic to me and managed at least 5 other planes at various points in the pattern and approaching the field. When I reported midfield I was cleared to land on 14 #2 behind a Euro Coupe and to make a short approach.

Make Short Approach

A short approach means the tower expects the pilot to shorten their downwind leg to come in and land using less space and time than would be used flying a normal pattern. I figured the short approach was approved in order to get me on the ground and out of the way before another aircraft on a straight in approach would land. This meant for me there would be less time and distance to get down from pattern altitude to the runway.

I accepted the clearance gladly. I'd never done a formal "short approach" before but I knew what it was. My CFI demonstrated it for me once in the same Arrow and, if I've learned nothing else from my frustrating flying the prior week, it was how to get down from being "high" quickly in an Arrow! I was quite confident in that skill having practiced it so consistently the week before.  I already had the gear down, had the pre-landing checklist done and my airspeed was comfortably under control. I was ready to go.

The first job was to identify where the Euro Coupe was. It wouldn't do to make a short approach right onto the plane I was to follow. Just as I passed the numbers I saw a plane land. I confirmed with the tower that that was the Euro Coupe. It was. I pulled power all the way back to idle and put in 10 degrees of flaps and let the airspeed bleed down to 90MPH quickly. I put in 25 degrees of flaps as I turned base much earlier than normal and kept monitoring the airspeed and power. I was coming down quickly but not too quick and my airspeed was good.  40 degrees of flaps went in as I turned final. I ran through the pre-landing checklist again quickly and verified I still had three green as I crossed over the airport fence. I was over the runway as the ground started to rush by I rounded out and pulled back more on the throttle, just in case there was any left, and landed smoothly. I had no problem exiting on the first taxiway, Bravo.

Confusing Clearance

After I was clear of the runway and past the hold line I stopped the plane and cleaned up, making sure to double check my after landing checklist. I waited then for instructions to go to ground. I hear from the tower, "55X turn left on Charlie and cross to the center ramp." I repeated back the clearance and looked at the taxiway in front of me. That taxiway was Yankee. A left turn would have taken me back to the run-up area for 14, the runway I just landed on. That didn't make sense.  I pulled out my airport diagram and saw Charlie was the next taxiway down the runway. Why did they want me to turn left there?

I contacted tower. "Tower, 55X, did you want me to taxi up Yankee to Charlie and turn left?" I asked. Another voice came on the frequency, "Negative 55X, hold for crossing traffic and go to ground point niner."  I held for the Alaska Airlines jet that was taxiing to the 14 run-up area and switched to ground. Ground had me cross Yankee and taxi to Sonoma Jet Center. As I taxied to the Jet Center I saw another low wing plane off the runway at Charlie. Ahhh, that was starting to make sense. The tower either mis-stated call signs or didn't see me land and saw the next plane after me land and thought it was me. It was a good thing that I clarified that strange clearance.

Santa Rosa Airport

I waited on the ramp as the 172s in my group came in and landed. Then we all went over to the Sky Lounge for a long lunch. My husband and the friend he brought were happily talking about the data storage industry and its ins and outs. I work in the same industry but I preferred to talk flying with the other end of the table. Everyone has their passions in life, it is a very lucky person who is has true passion for their work like my husband does. I know what my passion is now, I just have to figure out how to make it my day to day "work".

After a yummy lunch my local friend, Patrick, took us around the airport. He showed us his hangar where the local museum stored some of the warbirds they were restoring. Then we walked over to the museum. He gave us a private tour of the old planes parked in the museum yard. Craig's little girl was amazed by the landing gear bigger taller than her. Patrick told us the stories of some of the planes. There's really nothing better than touring old planes with someone that knows them well. Finally it was getting hot and it was time to go home.

Maybe I Can Fly

I lead the group back to RHV via Concord and Livermore. I climbed up to 5500 feet because the Arrow had a great climb rate with only me in the plane and I figured it would be smoother up there in the cooler air. It was cooler and smooth and I had a great tail wind. I realized I was liking moving through the air at faster than 172 speeds and really liking flying alone with only ATC for company. I started a long slow descent and flew even faster. It was fun until I got into the wind shadow of the hills and got a little turbulence. I slowed down a bit and called in to RHV Tower over Calaveras. I was told to make right traffic for 31R, the normal clearance.

This time I decided to see how I could use extending the gear to get some extra "go down and slow down" from the plane. I got below gear extend speed and extended the gear, the plane immediately slowed down significantly and I enjoyed a 700 fpm descent rate without increased airspeed. That was nice! I was starting to see how to use the gear as a tool as well as a thing that I have to get down before landing. I was cleared for landing, entered the pattern and nailed the approach, not too high or to low on final. Finally! A normal landing and I was off easily at Delta. That was more like it.

Maybe I can fly after all. In any case I'm looking forward to flying with my CFI next week. I want to be able to consistently put the plane where I want it, when I want it there.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

It Is Hard Sometimes

It has been a while since I've posted ... since Stimpy died. Not that I haven't done any flying, I have. Just when I sit to write my inspiration disappears like a wisp of a cloud. I've noticed I haven't been interacting as much with my close friends either. So I'm going to force myself to write a bit. This probably won't be a great story, but its mine and its all I've got.

Stimpy's illness and subsequent death kept me grounded for almost two weeks after my grand adventure. Finally the Friday after Stimpy died I got some air time in an Arrow, just reminding myself what it is like to fly that type of plane again after 17 hours in a 182. I did three laps around the pattern and then brought myself in. I verified I could still fly an Arrow and it was hot, so 3 was good enough for me.


A couple weekends ago we had a BBQ at our flight club. My husband and I helped set it up. He got his Porsche 928 club to join us at the flight club BBQ. He also volunteered to make smoked chicken breast and smoked baked beans. This meant we had to be at the club before 7AM. We were and the BBQ was a success. Jeff got the idea of having me give some of his 928 club friends a ride if they wanted one. So I reserved a 172 for the day. Early in the morning I took the 172 up for three laps around the pattern. It has been months since I've flown on of those! I found I could still fly a 172 as well. I parked the plane and hung out for a while until one of the 928 drivers wanted to go up. I took him for what I thought was a quick flight to take a peak at Monterey Bay and Watsonville then fly back. I forgot I was in a 172 which was not so quick and we took more than half an hour on the flight. I enjoyed it and so did my passenger whose face looked like it would break from smiling so much! It was a long, exhausting day but it was good.

The next day my friends and I were going to fly up to Santa Rosa for lunch, but a very late season storm came in and made the flight unlikely for the VFR pilots in the group. We canceled the flight and got together for breakfast instead and then hung out at the flight club to watch NASCAR at Sonoma.


The following week I went back up in the Arrow to do some more pattern work in winds and crosswinds. I took my husband with me and flew down to South County to practice. I was consistently high on final time and again but I was able to fine tune other aspects of my approach and landing. Then, coming in on the straight in back at Reid-Hillview I was high and fast and the cross winds were even more gusty and strong. Just a 10 knot direct cross wind but that combined with being high and still fast half way down the runway I decided to go around. On the second time around I was low but fixed that and landed OK.

My husband had tried to help me "fix" being high on final at South County but failed. Then on that approach to RHV he questioned why I did a go around. I told him I was over 1/2 way down the runway at that point, I wasn't going to try to force it down. I was frustrated with my flying. I recalled how, the previous time I was consistently low on final at RHV in the pattern the time before that as well. There was something going on but I couldn't figure out what it was. All I knew is it was frustrating and my poor husband's help wasn't helping.

Yes I was flying safely and making, in my opinion, good decisions, but I was not flying stabilized approaches nor was I demonstrating the ability to put the plane where I wanted it in the sky or on the runway. Both skills are something I considered required for a commercial pilot, which is what I want to be. So, I reached out to my CFI for his help. He agreed to fly with me and help me diagnose these  problems, in a couple weeks.

Exhaustion and Inspiration

The following weekend, last weekend, was the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Race. Several months before I agreed to crew for a friend of my brother-in-law who was running this race, his first 100 mile race ever. I would crew with his wife, who I had never met before. This promised to be an exhausting weekend for all. The runners run 100.2 miles in 30 hours or less, non-stop. From Squaw Valley USA through the sierras and then down to Auburn, CA. Across high peaks, through deep canyons, forests and exposed meadows.Around 18,000 feet of elevation gain and 23,000 feet of elevation loss. Imagine running up into the flight levels! That's what these people do. To top it off, the temperatures were forecast to exceed 102 degrees Saturday and Sunday.

I'll be honest, I was not looking forward to this event. This was falling firmly into the "this seemed like a great idea a couple months ago" category. But, I said I would do it, and I always wanted to be involved in this event, so heat or no, I would go. To make the trip a bit more palatable I arranged to meet Anne, my co-crew and the runner, Chris's wife, at the Auburn airport. I would fly myself there, with my husband with me so he could fly the plane back. He would pick me up Sunday after the event. I flew well enough but my husband pointed out I didn't descent much on base approaching Auburn. I let him know that I did that on purpose because I was low on base. That told me perhaps he doesn't know as much as I thought he did.

Anne met me at Auburn Muni and she turned out to be a very cool person to spend a day and a half with on no sleep. We got along well. She and Chris had everything planned and organized and kept me well fed and watered with whatever snacks I had requested earlier. I handled the mountain driving and night driving and took pictures whenever I could of both of them at the aid stations and the finish. If you'd like to see some pictures of the event check out my album on Facebook.

Chris was amazing. This was his first 100 mile race and a high altitude one at that. With 100+ degree heat. He was from Texas. He had trained in the heat and humidity of Texas but there was no high altitude training for him. The odds were stacked against him in my mind. However, this guy had something going for him ... grace. He ran that 100 mile race with the grace and aplomb of the most gentlemenly gentleman. He hurt, he had good parts and bad parts of the run. It was hotter than Hades in the canyons. At one point he mentioned casually he was having a foot problem. We didn't have the batteries he needed for his headlamp at one point... at a point that other people would blow up for something small, he was unflappable.

After the river crossing at around 2:30 AM in the morning, about 80 miles into the run we helped him take off his soaking shoes. Anne and I were worried, would he be able to get up after sitting down? He sat down and gingerly took off his shoes and socks. His feet weren't looking great, but they were looking better than he expected. We put blister powder in his socks, baby powder on his feet to try to dry them and helped him get ready to go again. He got up and started running with his pacer. I felt tears burning behind my eyes, would I be able to do that after 80 miles of running? I remembered how tore apart I've felt after 26 miles and here this man just ran 80 miles through some of the roughest terrain and highest heat you'd ever find and he sat down, took his shoes off his worn out feet, put new ones on and kept going. All with barely a grimace of pain.

We saw him again at mile 90, just after sunrise. His pacer was yelling his bib # from a mile away it seemed, "Here comes #71!" Everybody at the aid station cheered. Chris and his pacer came around the corner and he was still running! I could hardly believe it. Many of the other runners making their way through the aid station were not running at all. Chris was. He trotted into the aid station, got his traditional mountain dew, recharged his water bottles and, with a kiss for his wife, headed out again.

Anne made her prediction again that Chris would finish under 28 hours. She had said that a couple times over the night but after seeing him at mile 90, I was beginning to think it actually could happen. I dropped her off at the last aid station where the crew was allowed to run with their runner for the last mile. I headed off to the finish line so I could capture pictures of the finish. Sure enough, just under 28 hours, just before 9AM Sunday morning, I could see Anne's distinctive jersey as she ran around the corner with her husband. They entered the Placer High School track and I yelled that they could finish together. They ran the last 1/8 mile together and I sprinted to capture pictures of them finishing. Chris finished a minute under 28 hours. He looked no worse than someone would after running a 10 mile run on a hot day.

Tears burned my eyes again, they do right now too as I write this. There's something so powerful about being a part of a triumph of the human spirit like the Western States 100 or even "just" a marathon. I am amazed and inspired by Chris. As we sat with him after the race with his feet in a pool of ice water, Chris asked us to check on the status of other runners that he had met during the run and friends that were also running. You could tell he was in some pain, but once again, he was so cool, so full of grace, I was in awe.

I was in awe but I wanted to go home. It was hot and I had been up since 4AM the previous day with only a 45 minute nap to recharge me. I felt a strong urge to go and leave Chris and Anne to their celebration together without them having to worry about getting a stranger-become-friend to an airport. So when the opportunity presented itself Anne took me back to Auburn Muni to meet my husband who flew back to get me in an Arrow.

Talking About Flying

I had a great breakfast while I waited for his arrival and chatted with the other people at the Wings Grill & Espresso Bar watching the planes take off and land at the airport. My stomach was churning from lack of sleep, or heat or too much food so I made sure to have an airsick bag nearby, just in case. Fortunately, we had a smooth and uneventful flight home. I snatched a cat nap on the way jerking awake and sitting up just before every frequency change from ATC. I guess I was still unconsciously monitoring our flight as we went. When we came in for the landing Jeff landed the plane right on the numbers. I was so tired and discouraged from my previous week's flying I felt like he was just rubbing it in that he was a better pilot than me. My stomach churned some more and I tried to push that thought aside for the exhaustion that it was. I shouldn't be comparing myself with others.

We went into the club to check in the plane and there was a young man there who was interested in learning more about the club. I volunteered to introduce him to the club's planes as Jeff loaded the car with my stuff from the trip. Talking with someone who is enthusiastic about flying always lifts my spirits, even when exhausted, and I enjoyed the chat. I'm hoping he decides to join our little flight club. We went home and I fell asleep on the couch quickly. Eventually Jeff woke me up, made me eat dinner and then go up to bed. The following day was back to work again.

I have some more flying coming up Thursday and Friday and next week I'll work with my CFI. I'm also determined to restart my running and start building a base again. It felt good to run last weekend, even if it was only to go back and forth to the car for stuff for Anne and Chris. I'm hoping the combination of running and flying with help heal my spirit. Right now I still feel raw, but I know, in time, I'll feel better and more like myself.