Saturday, May 25, 2024

Thinking in Blog

Here I am again, closer to the tropopause than to the surface of the Earth, somewhere between the Rocky Mountains and the Canadian Shield, where I have spent so many hours of my life. I don’t remember precisely why, for this particular mission. I’m not even sure how I got here from where I started this blog. It’s always alike, but never the same. Sometimes the heater works and only our toes are cold, because the frigid air of the flight levels blasts in through the gaps in the unpressurized airplane. Sometimes the heater refuses to work at all, and the cold seeps slowly  through the layers of coats and long johns into our flesh. 

The engines stay warm. The original manufacturer’s engine gauges wore out years ago, and have been replaced with what looks like an iPad fused to the dashboard, sparkling with digital readouts about our fuel, our oil, our cylinders and our exhaust gas temperatures. They’re only as good as the sensors and the software, which means that most of the time when the screen flashes an urgent warning, it means that some sensor has slipped out of alignment.

 I’ve found myself “thinking in blog” a lot lately. I reduce power for descent into a familiar or unfamiliar airport, on the way to supper on the way to bed on the way to getting up in the morning and flying some more, and I see it as I would describe it to you. This day it’s a familiar place, although there are more hotels and strip malls than there used to be. It’s a stop on the highway, the westbound and eastbound lanes separated by a couple of blocks, and most of the town along and between them. As I wait for the light to cross the highway, I notice a jewellery store on the corner of the main street, founded there so long ago that if a couple bought their wedding rings there the day it opened, and they and each successive generation had kids at twenty, their great-great-grandchild could be there shopping for a wedding ring today. I know that’s nothing in some countries. There’s probably a reader who lives down the street from the goldsmith who made the crowns for the kings of Saxony, but here on the edge of the Canadian prairies it is a long time. The whole street has a time stood still kind of feeling. There’s a stationery store that is also a Radio Shack, or at least that’s what the sign says. Kids are hawking free hot dogs outside The Brick, a furniture store. A drugstore, now part of a chain, still has its antique sign up. We go to a sushi restaurant, because our first choice restaurant is closed: too late for lunch, too early for dinner. That’s the way it often is in our trade. 

I didn’t blog that day, because once I had done the post flight paperwork, caught up on all the email, and prepared for the next day, I was consumed with management duties until bedtime. I thought wistfully of the blog as I have on so many days, and took a few notes, so I could share with you later. It took me a week of stolen moments, moments when I could have been mentoring pilots, updating training records, revising checklists, or writing policies to get this much written. I'll keep trying.