Thursday, December 18, 2008

0 for 4

Ok, 4 tries, and 0 successes...what a week! This heavy layer of clouds just will not leave. I have gone in before 5 every day this weeks to spend an hour mission planning and about the same amount of time briefing just to cancel each ride (excpet for Monday which still turned out to be an incomplete). The worst thing was that every single time we knew we were going to fly at 0400 when we looked at the weather. So each day we've had to pick the best of all the bases even though it still doesn't have a pattern altitude; just so that we have SOMETHING to brief up. And every day without fail, here's how the briefing goes:

We approach the IP, salute in and start into the brief. I started every brief this week with this statement to the IP: "The weather is awful, we don't even have the mins to take off out of here and there isn't a pattern anywhere. However we picked ________ (location) just so we have something to brief". And then I continue with the briefing. So far all 3 of the past days I've started out with that statement and EVERY SINGLE TIME I'll get a couple more minutes into the brief, give them the weather, and they say along the lines of:
"Wait a minute, the weather there is what? We can't go there!"
My thoughts: "Hello, yes, I told you that at the very beginning of this discussion!"
IP: "Ok, let's pull up all the weather and look at this." About two minutes later: "There is nowhere to go, all the bases are weathered in!"
Me: "Thank you mister obvious..."
IP: "Well why are you briefing this if we can't go there?" "Oh well, I'll guess we'll brief it just for practice"
Me: "Please refer to my very first statment at the beginning this brief..."

Augh, so frustrating. There is absolutely nowhere to go with this weather, but every time we brief we know that somehow whatever we pick will be wrong...What a life.

At least today I did get one thing accomplished that I've been trying to do since getting here. I finally changed the oil on my bike. I've been trying forever to follow the 'rules' of not doing that kind of thing in my own driveway, but every time I've gone there in last couple of months they've been closed. Finally I made it today and they didn't have an oil pan that would fit under the motorcycle. So finally I just broke down, took the 15 minutes and quickly just changed the oil here. So that's done at least. The choke is still giving me problems and it looks like I'll have to make a trip to starkville to get a replacement part to solve that problem.

I'm actually not flying tomorrow, though it's been important for me to be on the board every single other day this week...but at least I don't have to give my completely ignored statement one more time!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Centennial Post!

That's right, this is my 100th post according to my blog interface (I certainly haven't been counting them myself)! Well, in recent news on Friday night we went to Rob's house and had about 6 or 7 from the class over there to grill up some food, watch tv, hang out, and sit around the fire. :) He bought a fire pit last Monday and we were itching to try it out! He got wood for it by dumpster diving into the wood waste bins of the construction taking place in housing here on base. We had a great though were up pretty late considering I actually had to go to Cantata practice Saturday morning. That went pretty well and then we all had pizza afterwards in the church cafeteria area too.

That afternoon Phil and Rob and I drove up to Tupelo to do some Christmas shopping. The town was packed with traffic backed up literally for miles! There aren't very many good places to shop around here so I guess everyone else in the area had the same idea as us...ugh, miserable! But we got some good shopping in and I got some wrenches I'd been needing to make some bike work a little easier. Speaking of which, the new battery I'd ordered came in too and I installed that on Sunday. It's awesome, my bike actually starts up now and I don't have to worry about the battery dying on me!

Sunday we had our Cantata in the morning and both Phil and Rob came to that as well. It was really nice having them come out for it after putting all that practice time and work into it. I hope it was a blessing to both of them. After services that morning bro Daniel threw a Christmas party for the singles class and so we all had a great home-cooked meal together. Bro Daniel cooked all the main dishes himself and his wife had cooked the deserts. Lasagna and fixings followed brownie-cheesecake for dessert. How can you top that!

This week has been pretty rough so far in the flying department, though. Yesterday we actually made it off the ground in the hopes that Jackson truly had the weather it was calling and that we would have the cloud clearence for a pattern. No such luck...the bases were at about 500'. At least I got to shoot a localizer and Tacan there, though it was an incomplete ride anyways, obviously. Then today the weather was even worse, to the point where there was no point in picking a base to 'brief' to except for just to have a base to brief up as if we were going to fly. Of course we knew the whole time that we weren't going to make it off the ground. These days are so difficult, though, becaue we are still on formal release and so we do a lot of sitting around. Like I had about an hour after the flight was canceled to get a burrito with Rob and spend a few minutes on the couch at home, and then we had to go to Gen Lorenz's briefing at 10. After that we were told we would have a USEM event so we went back to the flight room and literally sat around for 2 hours thinking we were going to start at any minute before we finally got that done. I would so much rather put in a solid day of WORK than sit around like that, it just drives us all up the wall! Only nice thing is that after 3 people pass their checkrides we'll be off formal release and won't have to wait around like that any more. It looks like we still may have a few check before Christmas, but with these weather days most of us won't check until after we get back. Oh well.

And I have to be up at 0400 again tomorrow, so must be heading to bed. Maybe the weather will be a little better, but doesn't look like it...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Quick week

Wow, this week has just flown by! (haha, no pun intended...) I had the flight on Monday and then a sim on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday was the last of my transition sims and was run like a 'checkride profile'. That went pretty well, and then yesterday was my second to last emergency procedures sim with Rob as a sandbag. I always enjoy those because I know everything that could concievably go wrong will, so there's no stress because it can't get any worse! But really we did quite well at handling everything, I was proud of us. At one point we were down to just the standby battery which means I had only a couple of tiny standby instruments to fly off of, no trim, no engine readouts except for the left side engine temp, it was nuts! But we did it and landed safely.

Today we were supposed to fly but the weather's been ugly the past couple of days. Coming out of the gym after we were let off today there was even frozen sludge accumulated on my car. So anyways we had to pick the best of a lot of bad places (as far as weather's concerned) today, and we ended up picking Jackson because it had the best cloud levels. Well, 2 and a half hours later after all of our planning, we had the morning formal brief with all the IPs in there, and on the NOTAM slides it turns out that Jackson's runway is now covered in a half-inch of sludge and has only a 'fair' braking rating for the runways. And then a few slides later is our callsign listed as going to Jackson...Oops. So the IP we were flying with calls out during the 'questions' portion of the brief " I really going to Jackson??" And I had to call out that no, we were going to have to replan the mission now. So after all of that work we weren't even going to where we'd spent all the time planning for and had to change plans in 10 minutes. In the end we didn't even flying because the weather was awful and we could barely even make our climb minimums. On top of all of that, our squadron mission planning room has around 15 computers for our preplanning use, but out of those only about 6 actually work! So that's REALLY frustrating when you're trying to get things done. Oh well.

Tomorrow Rob and I will try to fly again. This will be the first one in the second block of transition for me. It's really not looking like I'll be able to check before Christmas, sadly, but we'll see. 6 rides to go.

Tomorrow night we're planning on inviting the class over to our place to chill out. Rob recently bought a fire pit he'll bring over and we'll get a fire going out on the back porch, and Stew and i will have the BBQ fired up. We might have some people bring guitar hero, maybe throw on a movie (or both, we have enough tvs!). Should be a good time. Then Saturday I have choir cantata practice and then Stew and I will go to Tupelo to do some shopping. Still need to pick up some Christmas presents...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thanksgiving +

So, Thanksgiving was a fun time, and the break started out entertaining from the beginning. I woke up really early to be able to make it to Birmingham on my flight to San Antonio on Thanksgiving day. While trying to leave the base I went to the wrong gate and had to make a quick u-turn, and somehow while doing so something I had on the passenger seat (GPS, Ipod, or cellphone, not sure which) distracted me and I ended smashing into the curb at a 45degree angle. With the little blue-light special tires I have on there, the tire took it full force and I had a flat almost immediately. Yeah, so that trip was going well...not even a mile from home! So I pulled over where there was a street lamp and tried to find the best spot to put the jack. Oh, and the jack was only rated for 150lbs max, I way more than that, how's it supposed to pick up the car??? So I put it towards the middle which was the only place with a solid car beam that I could find and proceeded to try to crank it off the ground. Well, after a good 10 minutes of intense work, it wouldn't go any farther. So then I pulled out the owner's manual, and sure enough it was supposed to go at a spot near the tire which I'd thought of at first but it looked like it was only plastic trim there. When I finally got that jacked up, the car then rolled forward a good half foot and wedged the jack at a bad angle. So I had to bring it back down AGAIN and finally jack it back up for a third time. By the time I finally got the tire changed I was a good 50 minutes late. I then proceeded to drive on a donut rated for a max of 50mph at speeds a LOT faster than that.

And my story doesn't end there, the airport was great too. So, after driving like it was Nascar on the interstate I finally make it to the airport only to find that there are NO parking spots left. I ended up parking on the 5th floor of the parking garage but out in the open. There were more floors, but somehow that place for the rejects was not covered. So my car would just have to get rained on then. After that I ran the 10 miles back to the terminal area and tried to get my boarding pass out of the automated computer which told me it wouldn't give me my pass because it was too close to boarding time. How do you not give someone a BOARDING pass because it's too close to BOARDING time? Isn't that the point?? I didn't even have any luggage to check or anything! Then I went over to the counter and stood behind another couple waiting on the lady behind the desk who held a phone up to her ear for a good 5 or 6 minutes and then hung up, after having said absolutely nothing the entire time. She appologized and the couple said it was ok because they had couple of hours to spare. So I barged in with 'hey, I'm trying to catch the 815!' Of course, then she wouldn't give me my boarding pass and I started arguing because I could see that there was literally not a single person in the security line, and the gate was right beyond that. Of course, while I was arguing with her that I still had time and could make the flight if she would only hand me my boarding pass they then came on the intercom and announced that they were starting to board my flight. I could have made it! But she was not going to work with me at all; and to top it off, she wouldn't even get me onto the next flight either! I had to stand in front of her and on my own cell phone CALL Continental and rearange for the new ticket on the phone! How useless was this woman! Then I turned around and got my new boarding pass from the automated machine...I hate airlines. At least I still made it, but they charge me an extra $50 for the change of course; though thankfully I still got into San Antonio at the same time I was going to originally as I could still catch the same connection flight after the Birmingham leg.

Chuck and Skibby met me at the airport and we went back and hung out at the Air Force Inn at Lackland there until we met everyone else that evening at the Marriot. Then all the guys went down to the river walk with Jon for the evening which was pretty cool. I'd heard about the river walk but never seen it before. Saturday evening was the wedding, which was absolutely beautiful. It was held out in a courtyard area which was really well kept with beautiful scenery for a wedding ceremony out at a little pagoda. And I even got to have a part in the wedding as they'd asked me to read a coupld of passages of scripture!

Then the wedding dinner and everything was held afterwards just about a block away. It was a lot of fun and I thought it was a really nice wedding. It was close family and friends which is nice because it seems like everyone knows every one else. Here's a picture of some of us chatting after the dinner. Can you tell we were having fun?

Saturday I had to leave but we had time in the morning to walk and get brunch (Me, Skibby, Chuck, Allan, and Becky) and then we even walked down so I could see the Alamo! It definitely doesn't look like I thought it would, but still a pretty cool place right in the middle of downtown San Antonio. I'd have a picture but evidently Allan and Becky's hard drive had an accident and it was one of many casualties of war, although probably the least. (Sorry guys, I know how that feels!!)

So then Saturday afternoon Scott dropped me off at the airport and I got home around midnight after driving the whole way back from Birmingham in a thick fog. I really enjoyed the weekend, though, it was a great time! I hadn't seen most of them in a year and a half, but it's so neat with friends that close because we always pick up like it's only been a week and a half. Since my last post I've also had an 86 ride for the big break in flying I had. They are used to just bring you back up to speed after a while out of the jet. And, as of today I am now finally done with the first block of transition. So, only 6 rides to my first check ride! Hoping to have that done before Christmas, but we'll see. This week is to be pretty busy with a flight today, sim tomorrow, flight Wednesday, sim Thursday, and who knows what on Friday! Saturday morning we have a cantata practice at church too.

This past Sunday Jonny was back at Lighthouse. They've moved to NC but his reserve unit is still the unit here at Columbus so he'll be in and out of here for a while yet. After morning service we went out to Subway and had a good time chatting and catching up a bit. I really appreciate him and always enjoy talking to him. He and his wife did so much for the youth group even since I've been here, it was really neat to see it just grow exponentially. And now I need to be getting off. I think my wireless just died on this computer of mine, so who knows when I'll actually get this posted, but I need to be heading towards bed.
Oh, but here's a picture of me first in front of the T-1 because I've been told by some they don't actually read anything I write, just look at the pictures.