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When a former pilot turns his hand to thrillers you can take their authenticity
for granted. His writing is exceptional and the dialogue, plots and characters
are first-class... far too good to be missed.'
--Sunday Mirror

‘Dale Brown is a superb storyteller’
--WASHINGTON POST

‘Dale Brown is the best military adventure writer in the country’
--CLIVE CUSSLER

FLYING MY A** OFF...AND LOVING IT!
by Dale Brown, [IMAGE]2014

ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED AT DaleBrown.Info, 07/30/2014

[MEGAFORTRESS.COM image] Don't ask me why I signed up for all these Angel Flight West missions in the past 4 weeks. Undoubtedly, flying the family to Mexico and flying to Palm Springs for the Mrs. California Pageant judging fired me up. The P210 is flying great, the weather is great, the new book is underway, and I think I just needed to do some aviating before I settled in to finish the new book.

I do admit that although I like down days, I also like to fill open days with interesting stuff to do, and recently it's been doing charity flying missions. So let the aviating begin:

20 July -- Carson City to Silver Springs, NV to Palo Alto, CA, to Auburn, CA, with Mission Assistant Wayne McClelland, pick up little Emily in Silver Springs east of Reno, and fly her to Palo Alto, CA so she could attend a camp put on by Stanford University Medical Centers for transplant patients (my first flight with an unaccompanied minor, so Wayne's presence was mandatory).

Things got delayed because I didn't have any contact information for folks who were supposed to pick Emily up. In the meantime, huge thunderstorms were building over the Sierra, and by the time Emily was on her way to camp 2 hours later, Carson City was in the midst of a horrendous thunderstorm barrage.

When I called Lockheed-Martin Flight Service for a weather briefing for the return flight, they practicaly laughed in my face. "You want to go WHERE? WHEN?" They proceeded to give me a weather briefing, but it quickly ended with the magic words: "EXTREME thunderstorms" (I didn't think there was an official reporting level above "Heavy," but there is) and the biggee term: "TORNADIC ACTIVITY." I ended the briefing seconds later with a curt "Thank you. We won't be flying to Carson today. Good-bye."

We didn't want to stay in Palo Alto, but the farthest east we could go without tangling with Extreme thunderstorms was Auburn, California. We landed (thinking the restarurant was open--it wasn't) and checked the weather and Nexrad radar images, but it was obvious we weren't going anywhere--the storms were massive and hanging about all evening. I tied the plane down on the transient ramp, called Diane, and asked if she could pick us up...

...not thinking that this is Sunday late afternoon going westbound from Tahoe to the Bay area. It was wall-to-wall traffic for Diane. A normal 90-minute drive took her 3 hours, and at times she was COMPLETELY STOPPED on Interstate-80! But she eventually picked us up and took Wayne and I back to Tahoe.

21 July -- Diane was nice enough to drive me the 90 minutes back to Auburn to get the plane. Early-morning weather is fine, but thunderstorms are threatening. I get back to Carson before the Beetlejuice weather starts to form.

23 July -- Carson-Reno-Palo Alto-Stead-Carson -- This Angel Flight West mission was to pick up Dad from Reno (another unaccompanied minor flight), fly to Palo Alto to pick up his son, and fly back to Reno. But Reno had closed its cross-wind runway 25, and the crosswinds out of the west at Reno were howling--way beyond the crosswind limits (and my comfort levels) on my plane. But as it turns out, we landed at Stead Airport northwest of Reno, and it worked out perfectly--they had a runway aligned perfectly with the gusty winds, and the Dad had relatives nearby that could pick them up and take them home. Mission accomplished. 26 July, Carson-Reno-Castle-Reno-Carson -- Another unaccompanied minor Angel Flight West mission, but I was able to pick up the stepmom from Reno and fly her to Castle Airport in Merced, CA to pick up Kellin from a deaf patient summer camp and fly them both back to Reno. Stinking hot weather, but everything went very well. So to totalize: about 10 hours flying and 10 takeoffs and landings in about a week. I got a look at a lot of cool stuff: multiple flights into busy Class B (San Francisco) and Class C (Reno) airspace, extreme weather replanning, and even dealing with Pres. Obama's fundraising visit closing most Bay area airports.

Great week of flying. Even the landings were OK. A few flights started around dawn and ended after sunset--still worked out great. See ya out there.

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