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  • Friday, October 17, 2014 1:59 PM | Joseph Deaton

     

     Let Me Get That For You......

    Joe Deaton

    I had a heck of a time learning to fly airplanes. First off, when I get an idea in my head, even one that’s wrong, it takes a lot of work on someone behalf to change that notion. I believe they call this “pig headedness”. I was never around pigs much, but I’m inclined to think they must be narrow minded animals that aren’t easily adaptable to change.

     

    Because of this my instructor, let’s just call him “Bill”, had the horrible task of trying to change my pre conceived notions about flying. I probably got a lot of my pre training from driving a car and watching movies like 12 O’clock High. Because training me was such an insurmountable task Bill would sometimes resort to badgering and berating me relentlessly about what I was doing wrong.  This is not something I normally tolerate from anyone, but I wanted to get my license, Bill is one of my best friends, and way back in the deepest craw of my brain I knew he was right. Of course he was right!

     

    I feel at this point I should tell you a little bit about Bill’s qualifications. Since he was a small child he has lived and breathed flying. He’s flown everything from Piper Cubs to home-builts, to aerobatics to airliners. He’s one of those rare individuals that can get in just about anything that fly’s and feel at home. In Bill’s case it’s not just what he has learned in his 30,000 plus hours of flying, he’s a natural talent akin to a famous guitar player or violinist. He’s simply one of the best. Even though we are great friends, it’s still a little intimidating flying with him. And he loves it!

     

    I learned to fly in a Piper Warrior. The Warrior is a tricycle geared low wing aircraft. Because of its low wing electric fuel pumps are required to be turned on during takeoff. These pumps would then be shut off after leveling off. Or at least they should be turned off after leveling off. I don’t know why, but students forget to do it.  Bill would wait and then wait a little more. He would then fold his arm, clear his throat, and start humming to himself as he rolled his eyes. You know you did something wrong, but it just doesn’t register. After a little of this mental flogging he would then say “Joe, I know you’re real busy trying to fly this airplane” and as he practically laid in your lap reaching over you to turn the pumps off he would say “Let me get that for you”. I can’t really tell you if I was pissed at him or simply mad at myself, but I really wanted to smack him in the head every time he did it. I have to admit, though, it was funny.

     

    Fast forward more years than I would like to admit. I had a mission that involved flying, so the first person I call is Bill. I’m in the electrical business and I had sold a customer new lighting for their company headquarters parking lot. I’m not going to go into great detail, but the customer knows that I fly and asked if I could take before and after pictures from up above. The customer is always right, so off we went. The mission plan was for Bill, obviously the more qualified pilot, to fly and for me to be the photographer. Bill would be flying my Piper Turbo Seminole, which is sort of like a Warrior with two engines. Yes, the Seminole has electric fuel pumps.

     

    I sat in the right seat admiring his skill as Bill took off smooth as silk, retracted the landing gear, climbed to altitude, retracted the cowl flaps, and set the throttles props and mixtures. It was very smooth indeed. I did notice however that he had not turned the fuel pumps off. I couldn’t believe it! I was thinking to myself that this might just be my best day of flying ever! I waited for a bit so there was no chance of him saying “he didn’t want to turn them off too early because we are flying at night”. I waited. Then I said “Huh, the fuel flow seems a little high doesn’t it”. Bill replies with a “Uh-huh”. I said “that’s odd, that’s quite high”. Still no real response or solution from Bill. I had him. The day had arrived that I had waited for so long .  With great pride and confidence I reached across, elbow in his face and said “Gee Bill, I know you’ve really got your hands full flying this airplane, let me get those for you”. All he could do is laugh.

     

    This story is more than a funny tale of two friends giving each other a hard time. There is a moral to this story. I just took a long road getting to it.

     

    A few years ago Scott Crossfield, test pilot, first man to fly twice the speed of sound, world class pilot, flew his Cessna 210 into an embedded thunderstorm and the results were disastrous. One of the most talented pilots alive lost his life making a mistake. As I read about his accident I thought to myself if this can happen to someone like Scott Crossfield, it can certainly happen to me. I try my best to not make mistakes, but I’m human. Being human means we aren’t perfect. The smart ones, though, learn from their mistakes.  They learn from it and figure out a way to minimize the chances of that mistake happening again.

     

    Be safe up there!

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