Saturday, April 10, 2010

On the positive side, my underwear is fresh, and so are my socks and t-shirt. The rest of my stuff, not so much. I blame myself entirely - after flying for 22 years, I know better than to depart on a quick daytrip without my overnight bag. Oh well, I'm sure the Walmart in Miami Lakes was happy for the extra business as Kitsch and I bought our overnight sundries, so I guess we are doing our part to help out the economy in these harsh economic times.

A sample of our schedule this recent past:

Day 1: Toronto - Raleigh NC - Augusta GA - Toronto
Day 2: Toronto - Miami - Augusta - Toronto
Day 3: Toronto - Raleigh - Augusta - Miami
Day 4: Miami - Nassau - Miami
Day 5: Miami - Toronto - Raleigh - Augusta - Toronto
Days 6 and 7: Toronto - New York - Montreal - Toronto

Lots of Augusta stuff, apparently there's some sports event going on there - I dunno, I don't follow soccer or football or whatever :p

Anyway, on Days 1 and 2, you'll note that we end up back at Toronto. I packed my bag for Day 1, but on Day 2 I left it in our front porch, too lazy to clean it out and repack fresh socks and underwear and company golf shirts. You can facepalm now, but let's build it up a little:

The weather was mostly uneventful, but as we flew south toward Miami we could see a nasty system heading east from the south-central US. No big deal - if we didn't dillydally in Miami we could beat the storms into Augusta, wait them out and then head back home in time for a late supper before starting our next day's flights. We landed in Miami, dropped our pax off, got fuelled up, and Kitsch went out to the plane to get our clearance. He came back a few minutes later, with 4 words. "Ground stop in Augusta". Curses! Expletives! Obscene gerund! It wasn't even the weather that was causing it, it was all the traffic inbound to drop off rich folk for the Masters Golf tourney, which was causing gridlock at the airport. Even though we have to get arrival slots for Augusta during the Masters, apparently the system still has a few kinks in it.

The ground stop lasted a few hours, just enough to let the storm system really build up in intensity. Once the ground stop was cancelled (would that be called a ground go?) we looked at the radar, and it was then that I really, really wished I had brought my overnight bag.

All that red stuff on radar is the juicy center in lines of thunderstorms up to 55,000' with hail and lightning and all sorts of things that will twist your airplane's tail. Oh yeah, by this time, we were also 10 hours into our duty day. If you look at the picture, you'll see there was no real practical way to get into Augusta from southern Florida - the storm system may appear to end in the Gulf of Mexico, but it didn't - there are just no radar stations out there so it gets cut off - the satellite images showed it extended all the way to the southern tip of Florida, a few hundred miles west of the state. Oh, and as an added bonus, the storm systems were moving slowly, and it would be hours before they passed east of Augusta.

So Kitsch and I made a call we haven't had to do in a few years - we called up our Augusta pax and told them we wouldn't be making it in that night, we'd have to wait out the storms and pick them up early the next morning. I felt bad for our pax - hotel prices are insane in Augusta during Masters week (if you can even find them), like $500 for a single room at a one-star Super 8. I'm not even making that up, that's what we were quoted.

Anyway, that set off a whole cascade of scheduling events, which isn't a whole lot of fun for us, especially as our flight department is small and Kitsch and I don't have a person in the office to help out with stuff like this.

We rearranged our schedule, booked rooms at the local Marriott and went in search of fresh underthings, razors, contact lens solution and everything else that we had in our overnight bags. Yup, Kitsch normally carries a bag on every trip too, but inexplicably he chose not to on this one - at least I didn't have to endure his laughter at my wrinkled shirt and pants because he was in the same boat.

Once we got stocked, we rushed back to the hotel to start our duty rest because we had to be up extra-early to get from Miami to Augusta to pick up our pax, drop them off in Toronto, then take another group of pax to Augusta (via Raleigh for US Customs), then back to Miami for another group of pax. Yup, we did nearly 9 hours in the air and I don't mind telling you I was absolutely wiped at the end of it.

Fortunately for me, Lisa was able to drop my bag off at our FBO in Toronto the night we were stuck in Miami. I picked it up on the backhaul and I am now stocked for the rest of the schedule. Like most lessons learned, I'm now more bitter and more wiserer. I have decided to be proactive to make sure I never make this mistake again, no matter my level of laziness: In addition to strengthening my resolve to never hit the engine start buttons unless I have my regular overnight bag, I'm making a small bag up with overnight gear that will never leave the airplane. My laziness might be a powerful force, but my self-disgust at falling for the ol' "It's just a quick trip, you'll be back home before you know it" is even more powerful.

ps: the stuff I blacked out on my Firefox screen cap isn't very interesting - it's related to a hobby of mine I like to call 'sharing' but others like to call 'downloading pirated video games'. I figure no need to self-incriminate any further...


Anonymous said...

There is no WalMart in Miami Lakes. It is not in the original Miami Lakes development, not in the Town of Miami Lakes and they don't pay Miami Lakes taxes or receive Miami Lakes Police protection. Why would you think they are in Miami Lakes?

Anonymous said...

Lighten up Francis!

Sulako said...

Wow, clearly one of my readers has an emotional investment in Miami lakes not having a walmart. It was 8 bucks by cab from the miami lakes Marriott, hence my assumption. I'm indifferent, to be honest so if it matters that much I'll happily edit my post to reflect whatever neighborhood you feel the walmart belongs.

douglasr said...

Rather than muck around with a paint program, just hide the bookmarks with: View -> Toolbars -> Bookmarks Toolbar

Joe said...

Ahh.....The Masters. It always seems so peaceful when listening to Jim Nantz wax poetic over a light piano melody. Sounds as if the local airport is anything but.

Hopefully the weather will be more cooperative come the end of May when all the small jets descend upon KIND. I spend my work days east of the airport and assuming the prevailing westerly breezes, have a front row seat to a grand procession of aircraft. Love it.

kbq said...

But you didn't black out Fark, the greatest gift ever to all us ADD types...