Friday, September 27, 2013

Summer is Over

It's still sunny some places. I still have my cap on for shade not warmth when I step out of the airplane on the ramp, but the mornings are starting to get cold. I ran my finger through the morning dew on the wing yesterday morning, to make sure the sheen was not ice. They can look exactly the same, but only one flows harmlessly off the wing without dangerously affecting its aerodynamics. The sky is starting to pink up when we land about suppertime and it's still dark when we get up for flight planning. Winter is just around the corner.

Last week I scared my fellow crewmember on approach. It was a VFR arrival, already cleared straight in, but straight from where I was cleared would have been either through a hill or dive-bombing over it, so I was coming around the side of the hill, so as to enter the zone on final. I could see a structure on the hill, something standing out from the green trees. Towers tend to be on the ridge at the top, but this was on the side of the slope. Was it a banner? A piece of heavy equipment? An old wreck? As I got closer I realized what it was, "Whoa!" I said, in surprise: not something you want to hear your pilot say all of a sudden. I apologized. The thing that had caught my attention was a tree, an ordinary deciduous tree, bright yellow in fall leaves. We weren't even that far north,. Ten days later and a couple of degrees of latitude further north the deciduous trees are yellow and orange everywhere I look. In a week or two they will be bare.

Comes the seasons of block heaters, engine tents, toques and boots. This morning already I wore work gloves during the walk around, and not just because I was wiping hydraulic fluid seepage off the left main. (Maintenance knows about it. Replacement seal on order.) Someone asked me once which I preferred: winter or summer flying. Sure there's density altitude, sweltering taxiway queues, bugs to clean off the windshield, bugs eating you alive, and sunburn on the ramp, but does anyone not accept those things gladly to escape icy runways, frozen water bottles, de-icing, scraping snow out of the hangar door tracks and frozen condensation making things not work everywhere?

3 comments:

majroj said...

Ah, but for us groundlings, there's nothing as crisply invigorating as the sound of props, rotors or a well-tuned turbojet, heard on a frigid, still, early morning flightline.

D.B. said...

Ice? Snow? Down here we know little of such things, but we are experts in high density altitudes, and portable cooling units (made from a ice chest with a heat exchanger and fan).

Sara J mcBride said...

Just left Northwestern Ontario, yellows are in full force there, many birch and poplars have lost all their leaves.

Weather was still nice... September is a seductress.