I was asked to make a written statement concerning certain
events that occurred yesterday. First of all, I would like to
thank that very nice FAA man who took my student pilot's license
and told me I wouldn't need it any more. I guess that means that
you're giving me my full-fledged pilot's license. You should watch
that fellow though, after I told him all of this he seemed quite
nervous and his hand was shaking. Anyway, here is what happened.
The weather had been kind of bad since last week, when I
soloed. but on the day in question I was not about to let low
ceilings and visibility, and a slight freezing drizzle, deter me
>From another exciting experience at the controls of an airplane.
I was pretty proud of my accomplishment, and I had invited my
neighbor to go with me since I planned to fly to a town about two
hundred miles away where I knew of an excellent restaurant that
served absolutely wonderful charcoaled steaks and the greatest
On the way to the airport my neighbor was a little
concerned about the weather but I assured him once again about
the steaks and martinis that we would soon be enjoying and he
seemed much happier.
When we arrived at the airport the freezing drizzle had
stopped, as I already knew from my ground school meteorology it
would. There were only a few snow flakes. I checked the weather
and I was assured that it was solid IFR. I was delighted. But
when I talked to the local operator I found out that my regular
airplane, a Piper J-4 Cub, was down for repairs. You could
imagine my disappointment. Just then a friendly, intelligent
line boy suggested that I take another airplane, which I
immediately saw was very sleek and looked much easier to fly. I
think that he called it a Aztec C, also made by Piper. I didn't
have a tail wheel, but I didn't say anything because I was in a
hurry. Oh yes, it had a spare engine for some reason.
We climbed in and I began looking for an ignition switch.
Now, I don't want to get anyone in trouble, but it shouldn't be
necessary to get the airplane manual just to find out how to
start an airplane. That's rediculous. I never saw sow many dials
and needles and knobs, handles and switches. As we both know,
confidentially, they have simplified this in the J-4 Cub. I
forgot to mention that I did file a flight plan, and those people
were so nice. When I told them I was flying an Aztec they said
it was all right to go direct via Victor-435, a local
superhighway, all the way. These fellows deserve a lot credit.
They told me a lot of other things too, but everybody has
problems with red tape.
The take-off was one of my best and I carefully left the
pattern just the way the book style says it should be done. The
tower operator told me to contact Department Control Radar but
that seemed kind of silly since I knew where I was going. There
must have been some kind of emergency because, all of a sudden, a
lot of airline pilots began yelling at the same time and made
such a racket htat I just turned off the radio. You'd think that
those professionals would be better trained. Anyway, I climbed
up into a few little flat clouds, cumulus type, at three hundred
feet, but Highway 435 was right under me and, since I knew it was
straight east to the town where we were going to have drinks and
dinner, I just went on up into the solid overcast. After all, it
was snowing so hard by now that it was a waste of time to watch
the ground. This was a bad thing to do, I realized. My neighbor
undoubtedly wanted to see the scenery, especially the mountains
all around us, but everybody has to be disappointed sometime and
we pilots have to make the best of it, don't we?
It was pretty smooth flying and, except for the ice that
seemed to be forming here and there, especially on the
windshield, there wasn't much to see. I will say that I handled
the controls quite easily for a pilot with only six hours. My
computer and pencils fell out of my shirt pocket once in a while
but these phenomenon sometime occur I am told. I don't expect
you to believe this, but my pocket watch was standing straight up
on its chain. That was pretty funny and asked my neighbor to
look but he just kept staring ahead wigh sort of a glassy look in
his eyes and I figured that he was afraid of height like all
non-pilots are. By the way, somethng was wrong with the
altimeter, it kept winding and unwinding all the time.
Finally, I decided we had flown about long enough to be
where we were going, since I had worked it out on the computor.
I am a whiz at that computor, but something must have gone wrong
with it since when I came down to look for the airport there
wasn't anything there except mountains. These weather people
sure had been wrong, too. It was real marginal conditions with a
ceiling of about one hundred feet. You just can't trust anybody
in this business except yourseelf, right? Why, there were even
thunderstorms going on with occasional bolt of lightning. I
dedided that my neighbor should see how beautiful it was and the
way it semed to turn that fog all yellow, but I guess he was
asleep, having gotten over his fear of height, and I didn't want
to wake him up. Anyway, just then an emergency occured because
the engine quit. It really didn't worry me since I had just read
the manual and I knew right where the other ignition switch was.
I just fired up the other engine and we kept right on going.
This business of having two engines is really a safety factor.
If one quits the other is right there ready to go. Maybe all
airplanes should have two engines. You might look into this.
As pilot in command, I take my responsibilities very
seriously. It was apparent that I would have to go down lower
and keep a sharp eye in such bad weather. I was glad my neighbor
was asleep because it was pretty dark under the clouds and if it
hadn't been for the lightning flashes it would have been hard to
navigate. Also, it was hard to read road signs through the ice
on the windshield. Several cars ran off the road when we passed
and you can sure see what they mean about flying being a lot
safer than driving.
To make a long story short, I finally spotted an airport
that I knew right away was pretty close to town and, since we
were already late for cocktails and dinner, I decided to land
there. It was an Air Force Base so I knew it had plenty of
runway and I could already see a lot of colored lights flashing
in the control tower so I knew that we were welcome. Somebody
had told me that you could always talk to these military people
on the international emergency frequency so I tried it but you
wouldn't believe the language that I heard. These people ought
to be straightened out by somebody and I would like to complain,
as a taxpayer. Evidently there were expecting somebody to come
in and land because they kept talkig about some god damn stupid
son-of-a-***** up in that fog. I wanted to be helpful so I
landed on the ramp to be out of the way in case that other fellow
needed the runway. A lot of people came running out waving at
us. It was pretty evident that they had never seen an Aztec C
before. One fellow, some General with a pretty nasty temper, was
real mad about something. I tried to explain to him in a
reasonable manner that I didn't think the tower operator should
be swearing at that guy up there, but his face was so red that I
think he must have a drinking problem.
Well, that's about all I caught a bus back home because
the weather really got bad, but my neighbor stayed at the
hospital there. He can't make a statement yet because he's still
not awake. Poor fellow, he must have the flu, or something.
Let me know if you need anything else, and please send my
new license airmail, special delivery.
W H Y C O P S H A T E Y O U <<<<&l <
-if you have to ask get out of the way-
Have you ever been stopped by a traffic cop and, while he was
writing a ticket or giving you a warning, you got the feeling that
he would just love to yank you out of the car, right through the
window, and smash your face into the front fender?...