Archive for October, 2015

Even the Downsides are Upsides

Saturday, October 24th, 2015

“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.” – On Running After Ones Hat, All Things Considered, 1908

I spent most of the day yesterday with my instructor doing more transition training.  I’m still metaphorically clawing my way toward the left seat from the tail as I try to internalize all the complex and high performance operating procedures.  I did perform a feat that qualifies as a landing and not an ugly arrival saved by my instructor.  That made me feel undeniably better.

After we stopped for lunch, we started back around the pattern at Camarillo for a few more landings, and noticed that the alternator was no longer charging the battery.  We shed load landed and tried to debug, to no avail.

The fine folks at Camarillo Air Service sent over an electrical tech to try to get us on our way, but there did not seem to be a quick fix in the offing. We had to leave the Viking with them.  Their fellow – Harvey – was one of those fine, competent, eccentric people that one gets to meet in GA.  He went out of his way to help us at every opportunity, but it was not to be.  While I was working with Harvey to arrange for further debugging (and a probable alternator replacement) my instructor went off to look for car rentals.

And here we lucked out.  Nick, my instructor, somehow discovered that Patrick – a pilot who flies out of SMO – was on his way back in his Comanche.  Patrick more than graciously invited us to hop in the Comanche and fly back with him.  Even more graciously, he let Nick fly her most of the way home.  We exchanged numbers and e-mail addresses and hopefully I’ll get a chance to return the favor someday.

So, training was cut short by an inconvenience, but it turned into more of an adventure.  The Viking continues to be a charmed creature that leads me into interesting places.

Nick’s off at his day job for a few days and then we retrieve the Viking and I get back to clawing.

Transition Time

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

After a few weeks of moving money and airplanes and matching schedules, I started actually flying my new Super Viking today. It’s a big jump from my Archer to a high performance, complex aircraft with a full complement of quirks as well.  I’ve been reading and preparing as much as possible, but shaking hands with 300 horses for the first time is pretty exciting no matter how you slice it.

The first day went as well as I could reasonably have expected.  I wasn’t an instant natural, and my flight instructor kept me from serious trouble more than once.  He and I seem to be developing a reasonable rapport.  We’re both figuring out how the other works best.  I’m getting a lot out of his Viking experience and teaching skills.  We both recognize it’s a big hill to climb and I think we’re up to the challenge.

I’m still feeling the Viking out, but so far it’s been a great plane.  It has plenty of unique characteristics.  The good ones are very good, and the bad ones – so far – are mostly just endearing.  I’m very happy with my choice to join the Bellanca family.

Speaking of the Bellanca family, another member popped up and introduced himself today.  A fellow at SMO saw the unfamiliar Viking on the ramp and came over to talk.  Since I’ve gotten involved with Bellanca owners that’s happened more than in all the years I’ve been flying the Archer.  It’s fun and exciting to join the “cult.”

Tomorrow is another day of trying to claw my way from being far behind the Viking to getting ahead of it.  I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Review: Stone Mattress

Monday, October 12th, 2015

Stone Mattress collects several of Margaret Atwood’s recent short stories.  The collection seems a lot like a series of etudes. In the notes she mentions that several are from stunt collections – authors produce works within loose but binding constraints.  Etudes are often interesting, but rarely satisfying.  So it goes here.

The collection certainly has its enjoyable passages.  This is Margaret Atwood, after all.  every story has at least one passage that is worth reading the whole story for, even if the passage is taken in isolation.  Most of the works do considerably better than that, having some structural or thematic points of interest that are unexpected at the outset.

Still, these stories feel fluffier than Atwood’s long fiction.  Worth it if you like to see a great writer noodling around on the keyboard.