Thursday, February 14, 2019

The way it is.

Slowly, and somewhat against my will, the integration back into the world of land dwellers continues. I am starting to drive a little faster. The highway part of the route to and from the shop works best when big parts of it get done in the left lane. Two of the off ramps used are left exits, with one of those dumping me off into the left lane of another highway. From there it is about 1/2 mile to get across four lanes of traffic to a right exit. When in the left lane, it seems best to try and keep up, but ten over is about as fast as I care to go. It’s usually enough, particularly when the schedule has me making the trip around rush hour. Non-rush hour traffic is light enough that leaving the lane switch to the last minute isn’t a problem. On those days,speeds in the fast lane run 20/25 over…and more. Best to leave that bit of concrete to those in a real hurry to get to their next accident.

The drive through town to the highway has its own displays of land dweller foolishness. I don’t understand those who just blow through red lights without even slowing, something witnessed on an average of once a day. I can’t get my head around the idea of someone thinking that they are so important that traffic laws simply don’t apply to them. I sometime wonder if they think the laws of reaction times, momentum, braking traction, and impact “g” forces, don’t apply to them either. Then again, thinking isn’t likely one of their strong suits. Such drivers are, admittedly, a minority. Maybe Darwin keeps them from multiplying too rapidly.

Unsurprisingly, the job is helping ease the transition. In the aviation world, the people not big on thinking don’t get very far or last very long. (Darwin rules again.) Being among the tribe of hard-core, professional aviators helps take some of the sting out of not being among the tribe of cruisers. The job, now, is to sit through the exact same class/cockpit trainer/sim sessions as completed barely a week ago. Observing is the task at hand, concentrating more on how the material is taught rather than what is being taught. There is still a lot of learning going on. Knowing enough to pass the check rides and exams is not near to knowing enough to teach.

Mike, the instructor this past week, is the fourth I have worked with since hiring on. The first three got me – six years away from a flight deck – past an FAA type ride in the Legacy fly-by-wire-gee-whiz wonder bird, in three weeks. A pretty good demonstration of just how good they are at what they do. Watching Mike, with an eye toward working the classroom gee-whiz wonders and watching how he interacts with the group did (as I fully expected) highlight just how challenging – and fun – this is going to be. And there are still two areas of instruction, the cockpit trainer and the actual simulator, to be mastered.

Another help in taking the sting away from being off the boat comes from spending time with the pilots being trained. The current class includes pilots from Mexico, France, Germany (who was born in Brazil), and the US. One of the American pilots was a contract guy who has flown pretty much everywhere there is to fly, including Russia and China. This group of seven pilots is, collectively, fluent in at least 6 languages. They are very much the kind of people we routinely met while traveling on Kintala: adventuresome, capable, friendly, smart, and at ease with other cultures and ideas. It is just flat-out fun to be around them, listen to their stories, and work with them as they get a handle on this new bird.

It all helps.

The crew of Blown’ In the Wind is spending a few days on the dock where Kintala is sitting with the broker. They say it is strange to see her there without Deb and I nearby. It is even stranger having them “out there” while heading off to work each day. I try not to think of it too often; the job, Daughters (Two), and the grandkid gang of 7 are all good reasons to have taken this path. But sometimes the nights pass slow, with the lights of the city and the noise of the adjoining apartments rubbing raw against the nights of silence and darkness riding to the anchor off some uninhabited cay. At other times a thought or memory will sneak up and freeze my world for just a moment, right in the middle of the day. Those usually pass quickly, though the ghost of a hurt may linger for a while. Some of the people I love, and a world I miss, are very far away. And that’s just the way it is going to be for a while.

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