July 27, 2005

Mementos Mori

John calls and amongst other things he tells me about a recent serious accident involving an acquaintance of his -- the sort of accident that friends keep asking me about when I start waxing lyrical about flying and becoming a grizzled old freight dog.

We also talk a while about jobs and flying stuff; he gently taunts me by telling me I could be flying for AmeriFlight instead of driving 100 miles a day down to Silicon Valley and back for jobs and such (urgh). I have visions of endlessly flying the AmFlight Death Tube back and forth between Oakland and Fresno or Bakersfield, with ten hour layovers at either place during the day -- all for about $20K per year, no benefits. Now there's a reason to get my Commercial :-). Speaking of which, we discussed this a little bit, and I'm starting to feel a few little stirrings towards getting off my arse ("ass" for the linguistically-challenged out there) and actually starting it. It shouldn't take too long: I already have the required hours, the instrument rating, etc., and the complex sign-off -- I just need to find a club or school with a decent complex plane. After flying the Arrow (with its robust and utterly fool-proof gear) for so long, I'm always deeply suspicious of the origami-like gear on the light Cessna retractables available elsewhere locally (like Oakland Flyers or California Airways). Especially since (as I've mentioned elsewhere), I've actually had a gear failure already (a total non-event in the Arrow; it's less clear how enjoyable it would have been in a 172RG or similar). It's a shame the Arrow's been sold.

Still, I'm in no real hurry yet, but it's starting to weigh on my mind...

* * *

An hour or so later I drop off some fuel receipts in the club and run into Gabe S., who tells me he and Alan G. are seriously thinking about buying a Mooney. I tell Gabe this is the first step towards becoming a real Grownup. I joke out loud about cashing in my 401K and joining them, but suddenly realise I ought stop saying things like this -- one day I might just do it. And then what would I do when I get old(er)?


Sam Weigel said...

Get your commercial, it's nice to have to do an odd job now or then. "Hey man, I'll pay you $10,000 for one roundtrip to Mexico!" Hehe j/k.

So far as flying for a job, though, I'd think long and hard about that. The price of flying for a living is losing your fascination with flight. It takes the romance right out. That's not to say that flying for a job isn't often challenging, rewarding, even fun...I still enjoy it. But it's not the same as doing it purely for enjoyment.

Sam Weigel said...

I guess I misread your post, you weren't being serious about flying for AMF.

You know what strikes me as very funny? Many airline pilots find your sitation ideal: a good day job that pays enough to fly when you want. Many private pilots in your sitation look with envy at airline pilots: no pesky day job keeping them on the ground. Greener grass abounds.

Hamish said...

Yeah, I know about the Grass Is Greener thing, having tried to make a living as a professional photographer after years as an amateur, and coming home some days swearing I'll never pick up a camera again. And yes, having a decent job (not as decent as it sounds, actually) to pay for flying as recreation is probably almost ideal. But I still like the idea of instructing (at least part-time), and I'm still slowly aiming towards that. I haven't grasped the nettle in the way John did, though, and probably couldn't anyway with my otherwise precarious financials :-).

As for AmeriFlight, well, I've known quite a few pilots who've flown for them on the way to the regionals, and the thought does cross my mind every now and then (until reality hits me across the face -- I'm too bloody old for all this).

SloppyPilot said...

Too late, you don't have to say it, you just have to think it.(Buying a plane)

Hamish said...

So you're telling me resistance is futile?! I can believe it -- but I wish I had a business that could justify buying a plane... even an old lime-green 1970's 172 or something :-)

Anonymous said...

The Commerical is your reward for suffering through the instrument rating. It's the antidote to all that button pushing and knob twisting you've been doing. Since you've already had acro training, it will be a walk in the park for you. It's all about being able to fly the airplane with your hands, feet, and eyes. You can forget software.

I'm a partner in a Cardnial RG, which really does have a very worrisome gear system. It needs lots of TLC, I'd never rent a Cardnial RG because TLC is something rentals just don't get.

On the other hand I recently got my Commerical in a C-172RG Cuttless. Compared to my Cardinal, the Cuttless is ugly, cramped, and slow.

On the other hand it has a much stronger and more reliable gear system. It's made to be a rental. It doesn't fly as nicely as a Cardinal, but it's not bad at all.

Don't hesitate to get your Commerical in a C-172RG, they are purpose made for exactly that mission.

Hamish said...

Jim -- thanks. I'm actively looking at a local club with a 172RG at the moment which looks good enough for me. The real problem of course is finding the time -- the airplane's the easy part :-)

Anonymous said...

Hey Hamish-

Stumbled across this post while googling something. Sad to say that I sold the Mooney a month or so ago. Airplane ownership was a wonderful, albeit dear, experience. Hold on to your 401k for the time being.

Gabe S.

Hamish said...

Gabe — sad to hear about the Mooney. Oh well — that 401K of mine is as safe as ever (i.e. not safe at all :-) ).

I guess with fuel prices the way they are now and all the rest, owning's never going to be practicable or realistic for me.

And I'm still working on thinking about working on the commercial :-).