Clear and a Million

“I’m already running late,” I thought to myself as I got ready to run out the door this morning. I looked at the clock. 5:03 am. It occured to me, at that instant, that no one, anywhere, should ever be late for anything at five in the morning.

I wasn’t late. I got to Whiting Field just after 5:30 for a 6:15 brief. My brief wasn’t actually scheduled until 10:15, but my onwing was flying the same hop with the guy before me, so he let us brief at the same time, allowing for a quicker turnaround and getting us all home sooner today. So I had to get up earlier, but I got to be done and home for a late lunch, and I got to fly before the hottest and bumpiest part of the day.

It was a beautiful day to fly today. 60 degrees at dawn. Ceiling and visibility were, as we say on days like today, “clear and a million.” I was a little disappointed to have to wait my turn for almost two hours on the ground, but it gave me a few more minutes to study the maneuvers and, more importantly, plenty of time to just sit on the bench behind the line shack watching the planes taxi in and out and enjoying the cool, clean morning air. In that time I was able to wake up, calm myself down, and get my mind in exactly the right spot to have a very solid second flight. I flew well, and even though it was bumpy and hot down low on the way home, I made it through the flight without even “passive” airsickness this time.

There are still a few things I need to work on, but for the most part my airwork was very much improved today. I’m even getting the hang of taxiing the T-34, which is harder than it looks since the nosewheel pivots but is not directly steerable by the pilot. My instructor said in the debrief that I’m already performing above average for this stage in the syllabus, even though the grades on the first four flights don’t count. He pulled duty for tomorrow, though, so I won’t get to fly again until at least Monday. Believe it or not, I’m actually quite contented to have a three-day weekend.

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