Showing posts from June, 2023

Lessons Learned

  Many years ago, I was fresh out of college with an education degree from the University of Texas which meant I had a head full of disjointed information and little practical experience. In short, I had a lot of lessons to learn. Not finding a teaching job right away, I accepted a position managing the retail sales floor of a busy lumber yard and construction supply company in this rural area of Central Texas. Our customers were a mix of home builders, ranchers, tradespeople, and homeowners who kept our sales staff busy offering advice, filling orders and arranging deliveries. I was a bit full of myself, given that I now had an office, several employees, and a regular paycheck. So, I set about fixing some of the business practices that to me, seemed haphazard and unprofessional. For example, the sales staff would regularly allow customers to charge their purchases on an informal basis by recording the sale on a paper ticket, then holding onto the paperwork until the customer retur

Sound & Fury

    “What the hell was that?” I asked. Several years ago, we were climbing out of 8000 feet in my V35B Bonanza returning from a vacation trip to South Texas when there was a loud bang from the rear of the aircraft. A quick look at the panel showed nothing amiss and there was no change to the flight characteristics. I kept waiting for any further indications of problems while my wife, Judy investigated. She quickly solved the mystery when she discovered the ruptured bag of potato chips that had suffered an explosive decompression as the ambient air pressure decreased with altitude. As you might imagine, it took a bit for my heartrate to return to normal. This was not my first encounter with unexpected noises. We tend to associate particular sights with memorable aviation events, but to me, the sounds that accompany these are often richer and more deeply rooted in the recollection. Many years ago, I had landed a job as a Part 135 charter pilot flying a Piper Commanche from our sm

Flying Into Danger

  All pilots who have flown very much in dangerous weather, have heard that small voice that begins as a whisper of unease, more felt than heard, scratching softly at our consciousness, becoming ever more urgent. What began as a routine flight along a line of active weather has now become a bruised sky filled with cumulous building faster than we can climb, still sunlit along the summits, shot through with blue-white lightning and trailing skirts of rain, promising destruction if we choose to intrude. Like stepping through a curtain, light becomes darkness as we enter a canyon of storm clouds, cutting off any avenue of escape. Thunder close enough to hear, the smell of ozone and fear. Seemingly only moments before, the sky had been clear, the path certain and the ride benign. Out of nowhere we find ourselves victims of fate beyond our control.   A few years ago, a simple earache that refused to heal leads to a discussion with the doctor that includes words like radiation and chem