We knew the weather was coming today, and now it is here. Earlier today, Ardis was talking with her father and asked if we should spend the money to water the lawn. He told her yes, so now the lawn is really happy.
As I looked at the radar map on my computer screen, I can see heavy rain coming this way. From the non-aviation radar site, it appears as though Level 3, maybe Level 4 storms are aiming right at us. I think of everything I would have given to have had this kind of information available when I was a young Part 135 pilot flying in Florida that first summer of my flying career!
Those were—well—let’s just call them, learning experiences. I did not like driving home in the morning in really hot and humid air, after flying all night. I knew by the mugginess hanging in the air as I drove home, it would be another night of dodging thunderstorms and trying to stay VFR in the dark. The only thing good about the situation was watching the lightening. It was a spectacular show, a show I know I would have enjoyed much more, had I been able to watch from the ground rather than from the cockpit of my Cessna 210.
Although the 210 was a great instrument platform and fast, it still was no match for the nighttime Florida thunderstorms. However, it did beat some of the other aircraft we had in our fleet. At least the 210 could fly around in circles avoiding the storms at a higher airspeed.
The one good thing about dodging all those thunderstorms in my youth is that I was “paying my dues.” I was building the experience I would take with me through the rest of my flying career; I will say I am glad I no longer have dues to pay. There is no question in my mind today, that I will not pay anymore of those dues, should that collection plate pass my way again.
It is like written tests: I never again have to take a written test—unless I want to. It is now the same with the weather. I only fly when I want to and typically, that is when the weather is good. I will leave the heavy weather flying to others.
Today, I see no point in jousting with the weather gods over any flight. I now do my flying only on my terms. If I want to fly, I will. If the weather is too low, too bumpy, too hot, too cold, too hazy, too humid, too rainy, too bright, or whatever, I can wait. I no longer fly the scheduled legs; I have no interest in ever doing that again. Just like taking a written test…
I think I now have better things to do when the weather starts playing tricks on pilots. The rain comes, lightening strikes, the thunder rumbles. It used to make me think about how to survive flying my line in the mess. Now it makes me think it might be time for a nap.
Sometimes, it is good being older.
© 2011 J. Clark