Monday, November 26, 2007

Painstaking Family Photo

Grace: "If we took our picture inside, maybe I would cooperate."

I (Breanna) had a great idea for our annual family Christmas photo. Since we are currently living in the land of however many lakes...why not a picture with our lake in the background? Jerry grumbled that I would require him to not wear his coat (even thought he had on a long sweater), and the kids, especially Grace whined about the cold wind. I didn't think it was too much to ask to withstand the cold for a few minutes for art... and posterity...a photo lasts forever! I was wrong and have since been labeled the enemy of family warmth and comfort. Occupational hazard of the memory keeping, scrap booking mom determined to attain just one great family photo a year! Any one else out there feel my pain?!
Here are some examples of this seemingly never ending process to capture 2 chubby adults looking somewhat lean and three kids all smiling, eyes open and looking in the same general direction.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fuel, Wind, and Tears

Happy Thanksgiving! While we all let our bodies recover from piles of turkey, ham, dressing, or pie, I thought I would share a story.

One advantage of having the shop close to the house is the random visits from our kids. Yesterday Isaiah came over and as usual was overjoyed to see the airplanes packed into the hangar. I was asked to get the King Air out and fueled so it would be ready for a flight in 45 minutes.

The pilot asked if I knew where the tug hooked onto the nose gear. Good question, but it stung a little. A month ago I had sheared off two studs on a Piper Navajo by hooking the tow bar up to them. They were actually for pulling the gear door up, not designed for tugging the airplane. And if I had thought a little harder I would have realised that. In fact, in my mind I replayed all the tragic tugging stories I had ever heard at Cessna.

I put Isaiah in our tug, a modified Dodge truck with a very short wheel base and duallies. His two year old excitement was piqued as the big white turbo prop followed our truck around just feet away from us.

The temperature was in the mid 20's (Fahrenheit) with winds at 20 knots gusting to 30. I smacked my face into the right prop after hooking up the grounding strap. Stupid four blade props ... mutter mutter mutter.

My face was on fire, my fingers numb, and the King Air has anti-siphon flaps that prevent me from pumping fuel in at a fast rate. As I start to feel sorry for myself, I look back at the tug. I turned it off to keep the unthinkable from happening, but Isaiah was standing up and looking out the back window away from the airplane. I could tell what he was thinking.

"Look at me! Look over here. I'll be done soon" My thoughts didn't reach him. I could tell he was getting worried.

Come ON! Isn't this tank full yet?

I guess at times I feel way out of my element. I don't think much about it, but it does feel weird not being an experienced worker. Behind my white vaneer desk and black plastic monitor as an engineer in Wichita, things seemed more ... manageable. Definitely warmer. Now I make stupid mistakes as a mechanic, I am rusty at best as a pilot, and at times it just wells up inside ... Discomfort to put it mildly.

Fortunately, yesterday I was too numb to think about any of this. But Isaiah was out of his element and he was thinking about it. As I finished up the last tank, the inevitable happened - tears started to flow. I smiled, waved, even laughed ... he just shook his head.

The fuel cap did not want to go on right, the hose took forever to reel back in, but then I made it back into the truck. Isaiah was sitting next to me, and he was smiling again, trying hard to suck in his tears.

I pulled the airplane around to the terminal to park. Then drove back to the hangar to shut the door. As soon as I got out of the cab, turmoil, tragedy, and great wailing began. It was time for lunch, and I asked him if he wanted me to hold him.

He nodded.

"Do you want to go home"

Another nod, and a clear sign. To want to leave this wonderland of airplanes, airplanes, airplanes was not typical.

Yesterday Isaiah and I felt lost. There is no way I can summarize what that means to me. But I can relate to several characters in the Bible. Leaving their jobs, homes, families, whatever defined comfortable ... to be placed up in the air. Physically and emotionally it is just awful. Spiritually it is intense, vibrant, and edgy.

I carried Isaiah across the street and into the warmth of the house and the promise of a sandwich. Our fingers were stinging, faces red, cheeks moist, noses running, but inside our soul there was fire!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tail wheels, transitions, tests

The counter on the right has changed. The number jumped by 48 days. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Last week I enjoyed the hospitality of Lionel and Sarah Smith at Dove Airstrip. I received my tailwheel training from Monday to Wednesday AM in their Cessna 180.
Lionel has tons of instructing experience and has founded Christian Wings for the World.
His heart and passion are for training future missionary pilots. I came away rich in great tidbits and practical "tools" that will help as a pilot on the field.
Lionel even threw in two extra lessons at no charge as a way to help me prepare for my upcoming Technical Evaluation.
Speaking of which, the date has slid now to January 16. The reason is that Focus aviation training was canceled for November. January is my next shot.
The extra 48 days will be spent jamming my head full of flying and maintenance information ... and lots of prayer.
No matter how hard I study and train, I know the outcome rests in the Father's hands. He has led us this far for a reason, and God will be faithful ... no matter the outcome.