Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Whistle While You Work

Some sixth months ago, Greg and I had one of those "if only" conversations that went something like this: If only we got staffed on the same case, had our own plane, and the client was situated a perfect general aviation distance away. It wasn't probable for any number of reasons, but then Greg transferred to our D.C. office and into Venable's general litigation group, he bought the Tiger and we worked out a deal for me to have flying privileges, I got staffed on an environmental case that is headed towards trial and requested litigation assistance (a.k.a. Greg), the client is situated in Michigan, and I got my pilot's license. We knew it was only a matter of time before the final piece fell into place.

Last week, the partner in charge decided that Greg and I should attend a court hearing in Mt. Clemen's, Michigan and take care of a few other on-the-ground matters. Grudgingly, we accepted.

Sunday morning had a few anxious moments as it looked like fog around lake Erie was going to force us to "go commercial." Around noon, I made a quick run to the store. Hopeful that positive thinking would see us through, I decided to purchase a mascot for the Tiger. (Low on originality, high on cuteness.)

Greg's reaction to our mascot was somewhat less than positive, however...

As we flew Northwest, I decided to let the boys have a little bonding time.

When we got back to Gaithersburg, Greg informed me that if I ever leave Tiny Tiger in the plane unattended, he cannot be held responsible for his safety. We'll call their relationship a work in progress...

Flying over the mountains of Pennsylvania, the haze and the clouds made for a beautiful sight. It reminded me of hiking in China, with the mountains just barely visible off in the horizon.

The pictures all have more of a bluish tinge from the haze than was apparent to the naked eye, but the effect of the dappled clouds on the landscape is the same.

The camera did a pretty good job on this next one of picking up the amazing striations in the cloud bank.

We were about 2000 feet above the clouds as we flew along, but it felt like you could reach out and touch them. Greg took a video that captures it well.

As we got closer to Lake Erie, I teased Greg about his life vest. I can't remember exactly what he's saying to me in this picture, but it's probably something like, "Have fun swimming with an airplane on top of you."

Or, perhaps it's, "Blondes never learn."

As we prepared to cross the largest stretch of Lake Erie, Greg caught a beautiful shot of the sun on the water with Ontario (Canada!) visible in the background.

Flying over the lake was a bit intense. It's about 60 miles wide where we crossed and I couldn't make out the horizon until we were most of the way across. The tendency to become disoriented is high when you don't have a visible horizon, so pilots rely heavily on their instruments to hold straight and level flight. Greg warned me as I started over, "No deviations, or I fly." (A deviation is a certain radial or height change off your intended bearing or altitude). Part way, I deviated more than ten degrees while talking to a controller. Greg took over, and I went back to capturing artsy flying shots.

The airport where we were landing (KDET) is on the edge of Lake Erie, and a stone's throw from downtown Detroit.

Although the conditions were hazy, I was able to capture a few decent shots as Greg maneuvered for landing.

I actually took this next one of KDET as we were flying home because it's easier to make out the airport when you are higher up (and not at traffic pattern altitude, as we were when landing.)

Down on the ground, the warping of my Mountain Dew bottle was a good reminder of why you don't want to fly with an ear infection.

Greg and I picked up the rental car and headed towards our hotel. The part of Detroit our route took us through left something (okay, a lot) to be desired. However, the house below is what will be in my next nightmare. It wasn't even dark out and it gave me the creeps. We still had to pull a U-ey and take a picture, but there is something very not normal about whoever lives here ...

The next night was an added bonus on an already fun business trip. Friends that I met when I was knee high to a grasshopper while camping in Florida live near Flint, Michigan (i.e., close enough to meet for dinner), so off I set Monday night.

Gary and Pat have been two of my most devoted blog readers, so it was particularly fitting that I had flown myself to our first rendezvous in four years.

Pat had me on baited breath as she told me about her father, a self-taught pilot working as a crop duster in Louisiana who was conscripted into the air force. Running transport from Myanmar to India, he was shot down three times. Because the plane's altimeter was not able to handle the drastic altitude changes over the Himalayan mountains, he devised a system of sitting on an inner tube tire calibrated to his weight and hooked up to a pressure gauge. With his homemade altimeter, he could determine his altitude within 10 feet. How cool is that?!

On Tuesday morning, we decided to fly a route different than what we'd originally planned in an attempt to avoid a patch of clouds/haze/mist that was sitting over the mountains of Pennsylvania and making VFR flight impossible. In the end, our flight home was beautiful. A haze generally hung over most of the terrain, but you could see for 30+ miles.

As we left behind the farmland of Michigan, Greg let me fly over Lake Erie. This time, I was able to heed his warning of "No Deviations." So, it was his turn to take the artsy shots.

When we got back to Gaithersburg, I lamented that every work day couldn't be like Tuesday. Greg agreed, "Flying makes everything better."

Indeed it does.

Particularly when you have a Tiny Tiger mascot along for the ride.


At September 24, 2008 at 11:09 AM , Blogger Greg said...

I wonder what would happen if you tossed a stuffed tiger into a spinning propeller....

At September 24, 2008 at 10:08 PM , Blogger Amy said...

Bad things, Greg. It would offend all Tigers, including ours, and the next time we're flying over Lake Erie that thump might not be me dropping my camera...

At September 25, 2008 at 9:08 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the tiger was grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat.

Wow, I think I just lost my blog privileges with my very first post.

At October 8, 2008 at 12:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

So...the stuffed Tiger stays??


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