Sunday, January 26, 1986

Days like today I can't honestly say I miss making my living from flying. It's cold as hell  clear down to Florida, and here in Wichita the sky's that vague milky white that doesn't make any weather but just manages to turn the sun into a huge soft-white light bulb you can actually stand to stare at for a couple of seconds.

Challenger is prepared for her next mission...
I'd have just as soon sleep all day as go to work, but hey, somebody's got to get people learning to fly again and, for now, I'm still the guy. At least I know I won't be missing much up there today. I never cared much for flying on high-overcast days like this - neither pretty nor challenging, just blah. Sorry. I guess my forty-itis is in full bloom today.

Paul hasn't called for a week, but he said he'd be flying his initial captain line experience with a check airman next, and the guy's probably got him ready to pull his hair out. Kid's the most natural-born pilot I've ever seen, like an actor who doesn't need, or use, a script, but that doesn't serve well in the airlines. He's too good to submit blindly to procedure, which is exactly what's expected, particularly if he ever gets hired by one of the majors. I doubt if BlueSky's wrapped up quite that tight, but it really all depends on his check airman. The fact he hasn't called tells me he's either with another guy like himself and having a ball, or he's grinding his teeth all day and so pissed off by the end of it he doesn't even want to talk to me about it. He hasn't exactly adopted any of my little pearls of A.A. wisdom yet. I just hope he doesn't ever come by them the way I did.

I was just looking through my logbooks last night and realized it's been over five years since I hit bottom back in Marion. Seems more like a hundred, probably because there's been so little to put in the book. Five-plus years and barely three pages of entries. There was a time when I filled three logbooks in just over a year! Almost half my flying since has been with Paul "instructing" me, his first instructor. My biennial Flight Reviews take up most of the space- each one taking longer than the last for me to satisfy him I'm not going to kill myself out there someday.

Sometimes I catch myself fantasizing about what I'd do to the sons of bitches for busting me back there. I know I can't really blame them for blowing the whistle on me - I mean, nobody was holding a gun to my head or anything, but couldn't the little cocksuckers have gotten me out of their way without getting my ticket revoked and forcing me to start all over again in mid-life? I try not to focus on it, but days like this, it's hard.

I get up, go to my desk, push paper, and talk on the phone for eight hours like I'm old friends with people I don't even know, for most of whom flying's just a meal ticket, then I come home to keep the walls of this puny apartment from closing in on my disgusting boxer dog. He spazzes out for a minute or two, wagging his tail-stump and sneezing a few dozen times, then he matter-of-factly cuts the cheese and goes back to his spot on the couch before it gets cold, waiting for me to make our dinners. We watch the news, then the A-Team or Miami Vice, and by the time that's over, if I'm not asleep already, I'm ready to either go to bed or start drinking. And every night for over five years now, I've just gone to bed. But every day brings a fresh chance to slip off this tiny little ledge I found on my way up from Hell - which, by the way, I can still see clearly enough to scare the shit out of myself. It wouldn't be a long fall.

One Day at a Time's got me through the longest time I've managed to stick with anything, unless you count Gloria. I'd have been glad to hold on to her, too, but the ride just got too rough, and I can't say I blame her. It's funny, I've had all these easy gigs I couldn't stick with: my first set of foster parents, then the Prators (never could bring myself to call them Mom and Dad), the Army, the Cessna plant, teaching, and God-only-knows-how-many half-decent flying jobs, and the one thing I end up sticking with is the hardest one of all - staying sober and working that damned desk like some cheese-dick.

I can feel it building - the old Wanderlust. I've been here long enough, I've proven myself again, and with Paul established at BlueSky and his sister set up in school, it's not like I'd be letting anybody down if I moved on.

I just wish I knew where to go.

So if anybody knows of any great opportunities for a tuba-playing, airplane-building, junior-high-school-band-directing, pencil-pushing Army veteran with no parents, one failed marriage, two successful kids, ten years of sobriety, and 5000 incident-free hours flying and teaching people to fly everything from a Cessna 150 to a corporate jet, but who can't ever be paid another cent for flying anything, I'd sure like to hear about it.

Drop me a line in the comments section and I'll get right back to you. Oh, and don't be shy just because I'm writing this from a decade before anyone ever dreamed of having a 'blog. We can't let a little thing like Time stand between us and Destiny.