|On checkrides, cancer, healing, and Half Dome.
||[Aug. 28th, 2007|12:11 am]
Stories from the sometimes random series of events that is my life.
Last Monday I took my commercial pilot checkride. The checkride was scheduled for 11am so the night before I planned the cross country and got as far into the planning as I could without the actual conditions for that day and went to bed. My plan was to get up at around 8:30 and head for the airport by 9:15 to give me plenty of time for a weather briefing and to finish all of the many little things that must be in order. I woke up at 8:30 and got ready to go, but just before I left I was going through my paperwork and realized that I hadn't filled out the little boxes for all the different kinds of piloting time that I have on the rating application (FAA form 8710)... so I spent the next 45 minutes adding up night solo inverted landings to a full stop while whistling a circus march in the last 6 months.
Finally I got all the information that I needed and headed out. Just as I get to the airport I see the airplane I had scheduled take off... it is now 10:00am, my checkride is in one hour and my plane has left without me, and I need the performance charts in it to finish my planning. After a few questions as to who was in the airplane I determined that they would be back in time for me to use the airplane, but probably not enough time to do the planning... yikes. I went ahead and got my weather briefing for the day (and what a beautiful day it was, the briefer never even asked me where I was going or where I was departing from... there wasn't a cloud in the sky in all of California). As luck would have it, they returned early and I was able to finish everything just in time for the examiner to show up.
We chatted for a bit and then the checkride began. The first part of the test is the oral portion, it is designed to test your knowledge of priveledges, systems, regulations, and other knowledge areas. Despite some nervousness (because they can ask you anything) I really nailed this part, out of all the oral/practical tests that I've had this one was the most fluid once the questions started coming. I felt good about it.
Finally the flying part. I finish getting the airplane fueled and preflighted while the examiner makes a phone call. We're ready to pull out of the parking spot when someone pulls out ahead of us and jumps in... oh well, we wait. They proceed to start their airplane and sit there in our way, idling, for about 20 minutes before shutting down and going to find a mechanic.
The overhead speaker did not work.
So, we finally pull out and get strapped in and we start up and head out to the runup area. The examiner wants to do the landings first, followed by departing the area southbound to do the maneuvers. No problem. On my weather briefing there was a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) that Runway 31R is closed. Reid Hillview has two runways parallel to each other, 31R and 31L. I do my runup and surprisingly, everything checks out okay. Just as I am about to call ready and pull up to the runway, examiner and I see an airplane come past us landing on 31L that is going way too fast to land. We both say at the same time "He needs to go around."
Now would be a good time to explain the "three bounce rule." The rule states that if you try to force the airplane onto the runway, rather than go around, you will always crash on the third bounce.
This pilot demonstrated that rule perfectly... on the only remaining runway... while I was waiting to take off... for a checkride.
You gotta be kidding me right? The nerve!
I thought for sure they were going to close the airport while they cleaned up and I would have to taxi back and take an incomplete (or "discontinuance" as they say). I must really applaud the airport workers, they cleared the construction workers off of the closed runway and after about a 15 or 20 minute wait we were on our way. The wayward pilot was unharmed, but his little airplane is heavily damaged.
What followed was not my best bit of flying ever... but I passed, my ticket now reads: "Commercial Pilot - Airplane Single Engine Land, Instrument Airplane"
My father gets physical exams religiously once a year. This year a blood test for prostate cancer came up bad. In the course of discussing it with the doctor the doctor asked why he had never sought treatment before this.
What an odd question...
As it turns out this test came up bad on a physical he had three years ago... AND NO-ONE SAID ANYTHING.
So he was rushed into an emergency biopsy and the results were expedited.
He does not have cancer, Thank the lord, the biopsy showed normal, the other symptoms of the wayward blood test can be treated with medication.
It took me about 3 minutes to write all of that. In reality there were 3 weeks between the initial blood test and the return of the biopsy results.
I'm glad my dad is doing okay. Sorry if the title of this post made you think I had cancer... I'm still doing fine... which brings me to...
Not much to say here, I was discharged from Physical Therapy in the middle of July. I still have a little bit of stiffness, soreness, and limited motion, but the doctor says it will heal eventually... For the most part I feel completely normal... the scar is going away somewhat as well, and I have ridden around the airport a couple of times... I think a trip to Metcalf in the near future would be nice.
Well it's a little misleading because I was never really on Half Dome... but I tried, and I wasn't disappointed at all.
I have never been the type of person to shy away from physical activity, I am fairly active. I've never been in that great of shape, however, I'm overweight. Since I graduated from SJSU in may 2006 I've been making an effort to change that... Quite simply, I want a body that matches my mindset. At the beginning of the summer some friends invited me to hike Half Dome with them. I was warned ahead of time that this was considered a very strenuous hike and is not something that is done without preparation and training. So I set out to train. It went pretty well until a month or so ago when I picked up some... well... a LOT of extra work, the aforementioned checkride, and a few other responsibilities as well. So I did what I could and I figured I'd get as far as I could. I thought I at least had a chance of reaching the top, Half Dome is an 8.5 mile hike, one way, from Yosemite Valley at 4,000ft. to the top of Half Dome at 8,800ft. The hike is usually done in one day, or two days. If you are going to do the two day hike you backpack to Little Yosemite Valley which is around 5 miles into the trail and spend the night, the next day you climb to the top and then head back down to the trailhead. In one day you do the entire 17 mile round trip from early morning, sometimes until after dark.
We set out last Friday from San Jose and drove to El Portal to stay in a hotel for the night and get started early Saturday morning. Unfortunately the hotel air conditioner was so loud and it was so hot in the room that I didn't sleep very well. At any rate, we set out from the trailhead at 8:15 and it was readily apparent that my friends would never make it to the top if they had to wait for me, so we separated and I went on alone and at my own pace, while they made the trip to the top. In the end I made it to Nevada Falls which is about 3 miles into the trail and a climb of about 1700ft. There I stopped and turned around because I was told it takes about the same amount of time to go down as up due to the terrain and it was around 2:00 by then. It actually only took me about 3 hours to go down, so I could have gone further, oh well, next time.
Here are some photos from the trek:
Here is the whole route from Glacier Point, 4 miles distant. at bottom hidden by the hill is the trailhead, bottom right is Vernal Falls, Middle right is Nevada Falls and Liberty Cap. The trail takes you behind Liberty Cap and then up through the forest to the far side of half dome, where you then climb rocks and cables to get to the top.
Here is the trail leading to Vernal Falls... this is the shallow part of the trail... it gets MUCH steeper.
The bottom of Vernal falls, well worth the effort.
The top of Vernal Falls, the bottom is 320 feet down, don't get too close! There are signs that say simply "Caution, if you slip and go over the falls you will die."
Looking down the valley from Vernal Falls at the trail leading up. Quite a climb.
After I came down I realized that I had not taken any photos of Nevada Falls, I feel stupid for that, but all the more reason to go back!
What did I learn?
Well, The hike is a lot harder than everyone described to me. I was expecting a gradual climb with some tough steep parts in between... Virtually the entire hike was way steeper than I had envisioned.
Next time it's probably not necessary to have actual hiking boots, but had I had enough time to break them in properly I might not have so many blisters.
My legs hurt... a lot ;)
I've definitely come a ways in my quest to get in shape, but I do still have a long way to go... A year ago I wouldn't have made it even to Vernal Falls, that I'm sure of... So I'm proud of what I have accomplished and determined to make it farther next year.
Well if you made it all the way through that you should have a good idea of what the last few months have been like.
Stay tuned, I leave for 7 days in New York on Sept. 8th, I'll post some photos of that when I get back, including September 11th in NYC.