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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Check flight one down... one more to go!

I'm happy to report that my pilot passed his FAA written exam week before last to obtain his Powered Parachute Sport Pilot License. It's a three step process. First, there's the written exam. Then, there are two separate check flights he must take with FAA examiners, specifically, Powered Parachute Certified Flight Instructors. What's a bit of a pain is that there are only 17 such CFIs across the country who can perform the check flights. And, the FAA requires that the check flights must be taken with two different CFIs. This is a pretty recent thing for the FAA, I believe it was January 2007 when they began requiring licensing for "two-seater" Powered Parachute Sport Pilots. So, it goes without saying that there aren't enough CFIs in place to handle the check flight examining conveniently. Because travel is involved to work it out is a complicated thing for us. After the first check flight is taken, the FAA only allows 60 days for the second one to be completed, so the clock is ticking! Needless to say, we're committed to making it happen.

This past Monday we drove to Morristown, TN and back again for my pilot to take his first check flight. It was a LONG LONG day, let me tell you! I'd been sick as a dog with some cold bug the week before and hadn't quite turned the corner as much as I would have liked. We had both Chance and Sydney in tow, which means we had to stop frequently for doggy potty breaks. Then, as much as I love the mountains, driving through them always makes me a little antsy. Cutting through the gorge from NC to TN the Smokies proved to be no different. The road construction surely didn't help. And, my pilot was beyond tense on the way there! It was beaming out from him from everywhere! Understandably, though. Although, he was utterly and completely prepared, psyched, ready... you name it! He was concerned about flying someone else's machine. He was concerned he might not pass. Plus, this is something he's wanted for such a long time. It's his passion, and he's been more than behind in his goal to achieve it. So he was HYPED!

(It hurts me to say this, but the reason he's behind is because he's had to put me first for the longest time now. For him, that's not a big deal though, God just pre-wired him to put his needs and desires last. Rarely, does he ever think about them. When my life changed, his life changed. He's never ever complained. He does all he can to help me. The "for better or worse" thing became reality in motion when Epilepsy hit me, it hit him, too! God knew we'd hook up and He knew I'd need someone patient. Make that... extremely patient! Like I said in my bio, I'm strong willed and minded. A family trait. Good thing God and I are working on my Project Rewire. Trust me. My pilot needs a break! Although, he'll never ever admit to it.)

Well, the big day finally came! Check flight number one was passed with flying colors! Yay!

Of course, since it's us, there just has to be a story. That's a trend from my side of the family... there is ALWAYS a story! In fact, any of my family members that may read this are shaking their heads right about now, going "yep! there ALWAYS is!!" Truly, it's the norm for us!

The skies at the little Morristown Airport were simply incredible. Being nestled in the mountains just added to their beauty. The setting reminded me much of my years in Seattle. Yep! It was that gorgeous! In fact, that was where I saw my first ultralight close up, my cousin was considering getting into the sport. It was so long ago, but I can still see those awesome little machines in my mind as if it was yesterday. I remember wondering to myself if I'd ever be able to get the nerve up to fly in one one day! Ummmm "x" amount of years later, I surely did! Wow! Anyway... as soon as they took to the air it began thundering and lightening. There had been a big gray cloud directly west of the airport before they took off and it had floated in closer. It just kind of hung out there. It was raining off to the west in the distance, too. But, not at the airport. I could literally see it falling. To the east the sky was blue with gorgeous fluffies, as I tend to call them. My pilot and the CFI were in the midst of a little "required" cross country trip flying east, so they didn't see any of the storm activity. They had helmets and headsets on, so I knew they'd never hear the thunder. I was hoping the airport would radio them, as the CFI obviously was a regular there. But, no such luck. Chance and I surely heard the thunder and saw the lightening. He's terrified of storms and jumped out of our car window onto the grassy airstrip to duck under the CFIs trailer. He's a runner, so that terrified me. Literally, I had to dive for his leash and thank heavens, I was able to catch it with my foot. Finally, my pilot saw a lightening bolt and booked it to the airport. Like an hour and a half later!! I took some acceptable shots of them in the air, but I had such fun snapping pics of the sky and trying catch a shot of a lightening bolt. Call me crazy! Thunder and lightening don't scare me, they magnetize me! I just have to watch!

Need I say we were both so relieved it was over! He was himself again on the trip home. I'd like to say I was, but boy did we go through some heavy rain! I'm always antsy in rain, too. But, we made it. It took the four of us about an hour to wind down before we could settle. So, we were up to 3:00 a.m. when sleep came -- we were crashed out!

I've put a slide show together of the photos I took, so as usual... just click the come see link below. Now, these were taken in order, so you can see how the skies appeared all around me. I adore the way the sun rays came through on some of my shots. I've got to say... there's just something about these small airports -- I LOVE! Had I known, I'd have been hanging out at them way before now!

Oh! If all turns out as planned, we'll be heading to PA this Wednesday for my pilot to take his second check flight. Fortunately, my sister and niece live right down the road from this CFI, so we'll be able to get some visiting and good eating in! Sydney and Chance will be accompanying us, of course. I've got to show my little girl off, and she'll get to meet my sister's two Maltese boys, her new cousins, Amos and Andy. It's going to be a trip, I tell ya!

Okay... it's now time for you to...

come see


Gigi said...

Amazing photos, as always Jeanne! I'm with you, I don't like road trips in the rain...I'm not a very good passenger since my accident a few years back. Glad the testing went well and I wish your pilot the same success with the upcoming PA round!

ppcjeanne said...

Thanks, Gigi! I'll pass your well wishes onto my pilot. :)