I'm always a little dazzled by the size and efficiency of American FBOs. There is a sufficient number of rich people who travel by private aircraft in the US to support an industry of impeccable high end service. If you're wealthy enough to charter or buy a jet to go straight to where you want to go, then you have high expectations. And as I mentioned there are many choices of where to land, so if one place is a little grungy, or doesn't have highly attractive and attentive staff, complimentary espresso and scented hand lotion, then you can go somewhere else. I pay for our fuel, double-checking the quantity and grade, and then pull up my flight planning program.
My coworker comes over and I show her our tailwinds. "We can go right to Texas with no intermediate stop, if you're feeling fine for the long day." It's within our duty day, and she's happy with it. I call the flight follower and the customer who will pick us up at destination, and we're off.
The airspace here isn't busy and we're cleared south as soon as we're radar identified. There's a place on the map called Le Roy and I accidentally call it "Le-Wah" as if it were a French name. My coworker cracks up and corrects "LEE-Roy! We're in the States." I declare my new hobby to be pronouncing American place names as if they were French. I wave to day-twah, eel-ee-nwah and sharl-vwah, which leaves me wondering, how do Americans pronounce Charlevoix? Tcharl-voyks? Anyone know?
The sky darkens as we approach Cincinnati on the GPS. We've left ATC flight following, so my copilot is looking up whether we have to call them at our altitude "Cincinnati International KY," she says. "What's the K-Y for?"
"Like the jelly," I deadpan. "The airport is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson." I have no idea. She doesn't kick me, so I push my luck. "Maybe it's in Kentucky?" I suggest, then lapse into my badly sung version of "Living in the air in Cincinnati ... WKRP!" As God is my witness I thought turkeys could fly. It turns out that Cincinnati is in Kentucky. This surprises both of us. We think of Cincinnati as a northern city, but Kentucky as a southern state. The things you learn looking at the GPS.
Our pass through the airspace of a rapid succession of states. We're passing the area where many states narrow towards the Mississippi and the shape is such that our track keeps cutting their borders. We have cheesy jokes to make about all of them, but fortunately we don't remember more than one line from any associated song.
I like flying long distances, letting state after state pass beneath my wings. The sun has gone down and we're seeing the lights of all these cities, with slightly different coloured streetlights and different patterns of streets. But my coworker is bored. I teach her the CFS game. I know I blogged about it before but I can't find the entry to link it, so here are the rules. Take a newish copy of the CFS (spine unbroken) and open it at random. If there is an airport on that page that you have been to as a pilot, score zero. If there is no airport you have used, turn pages until you find one, and score one point for each page you turn. Once each person has found an airport they have used, you open it at random again. You play to a predetermined score or until it's time for the top of descent checklist. Lowest score wins. I was leading beautifully until we got to a letter, I can't remember which one it was, but there were a lot of airports starting with that letter and they were all in parts of the country I hadn't been, or had flown over without landing. I think I scored about 35 points before I finally found an airport I'd been to, and I remember it was some totally obscure Indian reserve somewhere. My coworker is laughing at me because I've been there, but have never landed at any of the civilized southern places dominated by that initial. Hey, as long as she was entertained.
Approaching destination we pick up the ATIS and it's information Hotel. "Yes, we're staying at the Best Western!" quips my co-worker, referencing an old, old pilot joke. I think she would have said it on air, too, except that the air traffic controller knows that joke too, thus is too smart to say, "Confirm you have Hotel." Instead she says "Do you have ATIS information Hotel?" She gives us a vector for a wide base, following a Citation on a close in base. It's a good way for ATC to deal with slow and fast traffic together, but it's tricky for me turning final when I know there is an airplane between me and the runway that is on base. There's no way I will get down final fast enough to cut him off, but I'm turning towards an airplane I can't see, while he's on a track in my direction.
We land and taxi to the FBO where we have arranged hangarage, but tonight is their company party, so the lone individual on duty is the one who doesn't know anything. We park outside and let them sort it out when a manager gets in tomorrow morning. Or tomorrow afternoon, depending on how good the party was.
Yeah, I know: we park outside in Montréal and inside in Texas. You fear the unknown, and the boss is more concerned about hailstorms and tornadoes than icestorms. There's a full moon out; maybe that's why we're so goofy tonight.
Oh and Callsign Echo? You're still on the hook for that word you mentioned. Spit it out.