Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Post-Mortems Suck

I went flying on Sunday afternoon, just a quick trip to London (KY) and back, to get a feel for the new (used) plane the group I fly with just purchased. The flight itself was pretty unremarkable, up till the last 10 miles or so...

I was in the traffic pattern at my home airfield, getting ready to land, when I made the startling discovery that, sometime in the last few minutes, the electrical system on the plane had crapped out. The engine still ran fine, since it's self-contained and designed to continue running as long as it has gas, but I had no flaps (makes the plane more stable at slow speeds), no transponder (makes the plane more easily identifiable on air traffic control radar), no exterior lights (makes the plane easier to see and avoid) and, most importantly, NO RADIOS.

Needless to say, my heart did a little pounding until I got the plane on the ground...

Complicating matters was the fact that my home airfield has a control tower, making it illegal to land without explicit clearance from said tower, which is usually obtained over the radio. The tower has a device called a light gun which can flash high-powered red, green, or white light at a plane, and grant clearance that way, but because of the way the light was that day, and the fact I was a little distracted looking for other traffic that might be in the pattern, I was unable to see the signals. After a couple of circuits around the pattern, I decided the safest (and most legal) thing to do would be to head to a nearby, untowered, airport, where I could land with no radios and stay reasonably safe.

So, yeah, an interesting afternoon.

The reason for the title is this: After the event, for many many many many many many hours, I did nothing but review the events, my actions, everything. And I wasn't kind to myself...

I'm past that now, and have actually made intelligent, rational judgements about what I did and how I did it, and I feel like I learned a lot from the experience. But those first hours afterwards could've really sucked...I've got to express my gratitude to The Redhead for recognizing that I needed some time to lie on the couch, eat comfort food, play a video game or two, and generally get my mind off of things...my wife rocks! :)
posted by S.C. @ 8:49 AM |

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