Friday, March 2, 2012

Eggs Benedict

I had a bizarre dream. I got into a rock-throwing fight while jogging. A few guys from the flight school came to my rescue and it turned into a full-on rumble. A thin version of Bufford T. Justice pulled up and got out of the car, big hat, badge and all. He arrested me and threw me into the cab of an eight-teen wheeler. So weird, I don't jog.

It jolted me awake. I rolled over and had a look at the clock, 3:02. Then our rooster crowed. Fuck. Might as well get out of bed. No way I'd get back to sleep once the chicken symphony kicked in, plus I was gonna get up at four a.m. anyway. Why rise to see the first four of the day? Cuz that's when the forecast comes out.

The first time I was part of a go-no-go decision regarding weather was as a packer in Yakutat. Paul and I decided we could get an old guy up a mountain to shoot a goat before the remnants of a typhoon off the coast of Japan got to us. We spent a long night up on a ridge top taking turns holding up the broken tent poles while the old guy snored. Alaskan Guide Series Tent, my ass.

Before one can test for a Commercial License several requirements must be met. I hoped to check two of those off my list. I plotted a course to Lanai. That would take care of the greater than 50 nautical miles cross country. Routing the flight over to Maui and landing at several airports on the way home would fulfill another. One thing I noticed while planning the return trip was that the Hana Airport notes mentioned wild boars on and in the vicinity of the runway. Plus there's a nudie beach just west of the strip. That figured into choosing my flight altitude.

Why Maui? A friend I used to play baseball and get in all sorts of trouble with in high school was on Maui with his wife for vacation. I hadn't seen him in seventeen years (I usually swear my family to secrecy when I go back to visit) so why not meet for lunch?

No red flags in the weather so I headed down to do my preflight. I took off to the northwest and flew the heading I had calculated. You can usually see Maui from the airport but thanks to the vog (volcanic fog, which makes my eyes itch just like the pure air of New Delhi) it was CSS (can't see shit). Plenty of visibility to see and avoid aircraft but a little disconcerting at my skill level cuz if I missed the island by swinging too far to the south, I'd run out of fuel somewhere that would require deploying my inflatable PFD.

There are several systems in place to help pilots avoid that fate like flight following service. So I put the transponder to the code they gave me and tried to enjoy the whales and dolphins below and not think about the possibilities if I heard a new noise coming from the engine. I mean, shit, the water's warm and the tiger sharks eat at night so I should be all right.

But I can tell you that it's pretty yucky to see nothing but blue water and grey sky for the better part of an hour while you go over worst-case scenarios in your head. Oh sweet, if something's gonna go wrong, I hope it's right now cuz I could make it to that boat and they could pick me up. Never mind, they're outta of sight. Hey what's that up ahead? Sweet victory, not real positive that it's Lanai, but it is land.

It was Lanai. I touched down and took off headed to Maui, which I could see. Cake and pie. I arrived a little later than I had forecasted but who gives a hot fuck?

Dean and Mickey have avoided the deep-fried cheese curd physique and generally seemed super happy. They vacillated between giving me mad shit for avoiding them on visits to the homeland and thanking me for flying to meet them.

We hopped into the rented Jeep and headed to Paia for brunch. I had the Kailui pork (pit-roasted pig) benedict to honor the wild boars I hoped to see on the Hana runway. Dean took a shortcut back to transient parking that took us right under the ATC tower and required four-wheel drive. His wife reminded him that just because a high school pal was in the backseat, he didn't have to act like a dipshit.

The trip home was beautiful, bouncy and uneventful. No pigs, no nudists.

No comments: