Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hail the Rampee

I woke up this morning and turned the TV on to the weather channel. They were talking about the hailstorm that went through last night, calmly pointing out the areas with golf ball-sized versus softball-sized hailstones. Eeeyow! Texas has Texas-sized hail. We got in too late to get the airplane in the hangar. I hope it's alright. I guess I would have heard by now, because the weather is good, so my co-worker must be up flying already. Yep. She is. It's fine.

The weather is clear today, with a waxing crescent moon. But instead of being upright, like the curving part of a capital D the moon at this latitude and time of year appears to be a hat, like a jauntily worn beret. I think about it for a moment, making arcs with my fingers and trying to picture where the sun and moon are, and how the moon is the wrong way up, but we've arrived at the airport and it's time to preflight the airplane so I let it go.

The sun sets off my right wing during the flight. I'm still startled by how fast the sky goes from orange to black around here. The sun sets faster the further south you go. I turn on the navigation lights as the disc approaches the horizon, and then I turn up the cockpit lights so I can see the instruments. About this time a GPS alert tells me that it is sunset and that the GPS is switching into night mode. That means that it dims and uses different colours, a darker background with light markings so it doesn't affect my night vision so much when I look at it. I usually dim it further as well. My night vision isn't coming in right tonight, though. The cockpit lights seem too dim and the battery must be fading on my headset light, because it doesn't illuminate my kneeboard when I look down at it. It's a slight hassle to change the battery, and I really don't think it needs changing, because it's a low power LED light, and it's only run for ten hours on these batteries. Maybe it doesn't take well to the rechargeables I put in.

It must have been pitch black for two hours before I finally scratch my nose and feel the frame of my glasses bend. Bend? Yeah, I have "flexframes" that are designed to not break if I sit on my sunglasses. On my sunglasses. I sheepishly take my sunglasses off and all of a sudden the cockpit lighting is much better.

The moon is still out there, too, but now it's a smiley moon. At night the crescent part appears to be on the bottom, just like that on Arabian flags. The stars do not shine through the moon, however.

I mention the lazy southern moon to my coworker and he says he was noticing that satellite dishes point up around here. I guess you have to put them on your roof instead of on the south side of your house.

At the end of the flight I make my way across the ramp to parking. We have a spot staked out within reach of electrical power so we can plug in equipment overnight, and the FBO know we're using it, but it's a bit of an obstacle course tonight. Around behind a couple of Cessnas watching out for the fuel truck parked behind that, then up towards the wall, but not too close, watching to be sure that the wing will not hit the electrical cart on one side and the chain on the airplane on the other. My wingtip will go under that airplane's wingtip, but not through the chain. I have it lined up and am about to go forward when a rampie comes running out of the FBO. I hold my position while he darts each side, checking the clearance and then waves me ahead.

I knew it was good because I did more or less the same thing the last night I came in here, unassisted after the FBO was closed, and I knew it was good then because I was being careful. I've parked in gnarlier places than this with worse lighting, but I've cut it too close before too. It's always good to have an extra set of eyes.

Also, my earseals didn't fall off when I took off the headset at the end of the flight.


nec Timide said...

Oh ya, a good ramp staff can make all the difference in a visit to an FBO, Whether they're need on that visit or not.

J said...

The "my earseals didn't fall off" comment seems like the beginning of a great running joke. You could add it to the end of every new entry.

Matt said...

Hehe.. Every time I see the earseals falling off bit, I think of this completely offtopic, yet fantastically funny faux-interview:

Front Fell Off

Apologies if you've seen it. I believe it's John Clarke and Bryan Dawe from Australia and followed a fairly fantastic accident involving an oil tanker back in the 90's. Might as well be a real interview with one of the aviation "experts" that stands up to yammer on after an air accident though.

Jimmy Mack said...

This reminded me of heading back to home base after a 12+ hour day of flying around goose hunters in less than nice weather. The other pilot was flying and the sun was starting to set. The plane wasn't equipped for night flying, and he was starting to complain that it was getting really dark. I flatly mentioned he should take off his Ray Bans and he might be able to see a bit better.

I shouldn't laugh too hard - that is how I learnt to not forget my shades on.

N6349C said...

I wear my sunglasses at night
so I can
so I can
Watch you weave then breath your story lines.

(Corey Hart)