I like the extremes, except when it comes to the cold.  After the month of September, I cannot go further north than Jacksonville.  It is just far too cold that far north.

I think my dislike of the cold stems from a couple of things prevalent in my life.  I was born in the South and with few exceptions, I lived almost my entire life at lower latitudes.  The other factor in my dislike of the cold occurred in the Pacific Ocean in August 1983. 

We were undergoing requalification at deep water survival and as part of the drill, they dropped us off one by one into the Pacific Ocean about two miles off shore from Navy North Island.  We treaded water while waiting for an HC-46 from the station to pluck us out of the water.

Do you know how cold the Pacific Ocean water is in August?  It was about 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which is really cold.  Especially when you are stuck in it almost two hours.

I was the seventh man into the water and as I slowly drifted off to Mexico, I watched as the Sea Knight picked up the six pilots in front of me.  By now, I had been in the water for about 30 minutes and all I wanted was for those guys in the helo to hoist me into the belly of the Sea Knight, get me out of the water, and somehow get me warm.  At this point in the exercise, it was all about me.

I was so happy watching the helo lift the sixth man.  I knew the Sea Knight pilots would soon come to me, the crewmen in the back would lower the hoist, and I would be out of the cold.

What happened in reality was the pilots came, looked at me, turned and left.  I cursed everyone associated with helicopters for about three minutes as I watched the Sea Knight run for North Island.  They told me later the load was getting too heavy and the helo needed to refuel.

In the meantime, I think I nearly froze to death while waiting.  Consequently, I cannot stand cold weather.

When it comes to altitudes, I like flying really low, and really high.  Up at the high Flight Levels, one can almost see the curvature of the earth.  The sky is dark blue, even in the brightest sunshine.  You can really see a very long way from up there!  And the air is so thin that you are really making time across the ground.

When flying that high in less dense air, the indicated airspeed is relatively low.  However, the true airspeed is high and if you are lucky enough to hook up with a tailwind of sorts, especially associated with the jet stream, you can really be making time over the ground.

Of course, even if you are clocking across the ground at about 700 miles per hour, it doesn’t seem as though you are even moving.  That’s the disadvantage to flying so high.  All you are doing up there is sitting in the cockpit watching the DME count down or up while watching the scenery slip slowly by.

The opposite to this is, of course, flying really, really, low and fast.  In the attack community, we’re talking 150 to 200 feet above the ground.  Pushing 540 knots.  Nine nautical miles per minute.  About 623 miles per hour.  And then reaching the target with your load of bombs, popping, and hitting a bulls-eye.

Yeah, I like extremes… Well, except for the cold.


© 2010 J. Clark

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3 Responses to Extremes

  1. flyinggma says:

    Its a lovely 36 degrees in Minnesota this morning. In the spring that feels like a heat wave. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be floating on the ocean in such cold water, waiting…..

    I don’t know whether I’d like flying high and fast better or low and fast. I love seeing the scenery on the ground and it seems to me that either option doesn’t allow you to see much detail.

  2. Joe Clark says:

    flyinggma, how could you possible live in temperatures below 68 degrees? It’s 68 right now in Saint Augustine; we had to escape the cold to celebrate my in-laws birthday here in Tampa, where I am a little concerned over the temperature trend – it is down to 73 now. “Oh! The Humanity!”

  3. flyinggma says:

    I’ve told my husband often that I don’t remember our discussion about where we were going to live after we got married. I surely would have chosen someplace warmer. It has been a wonderful place to raise our four children and grandson but I prefer warmer weather more of the year. We try to escape to some warmer weather each winter for a few days. It helps!

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