Monday I reach the airplane after my coworker has landed. I have credit card in hand and walk to the pump to swipe it, but she shakes her head. "It's dead." The computer lets you activate the pump, but there's a zip tie around the lever that you lift to start the flow of fuel. We're not sure whether we have run the 20,000 L tank dry or if we have burned out the pump motor from running it for so long, but we're not getting any more fuel out of it today.
Sigh. It was already a late start, and now we will be further delayed. There's an airport with full service fuel just seven minutes flight away, but by the time you land, fuel, pay and taxi, that's at least half an hour, and we'll have to do that twice to bring the airplane back full, too. But we do.
I accept a clearance to a right base to 13. I'm just realizing that I'm setting up for a left base, and that isn't making sense, even though I have the runway in sight, when the controller asks me if I would prefer a left base for 12. I accept that and adore the controller for not pointing out my mistake. He had cleared me right base for 30, but I managed to mishear that as 13, and rotate the runway ten degrees in my imagination, such as that I was setting up for a left base to where the non-existent 13 would be. But thanks to a sharp controller, no one who didn't see me on a heading that was no way going to put me on right base for 30 sees that I did anything wrong. I'm cleared to land on 12 and taxi for fuel without making a further fool of myself.
The flight is mostly over flat land, but we also cross some impressive river gorges. I love the way the drainage there makes the vegetation a different colour, so the terrain provides its own coloured relief map.
At the end of the flight I return to the same airport and it takes me a moment to find it amongst the bright city lights. The trick is to look for the big dark patch, because although a city runway is brightly lit, and the traffic areas of the buildings have lights, most of the field is not lit at all, so when you find the dark patch you can usually find the flashing beacon and then the runway lights. I've been descending on base, just on faith that the runway is there, but I'm descending towards tall city buildings, so when I turn final I'm a little high. That's okay: the runway is long and I have plenty of time to brake and exit. Just a little further than optimum to taxi back for fuel.
I'd like to be perfect, always hit the right spot for maximum efficiency, but sometimes I have to settle for being safe.