The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Flying around in circles ahead of the rain

This morning I flew solo for the first time in two and a half years. I really missed it.

I last flew solo on 24 May 2006, from Nashua, N.H., to Nantucket, Mass.—208 km each way. Today I had a more modest mission: Wheeling to Waukegan, Ill., 34 km and less than 10 minutes' flying time.

Some rain moved into the area so I only got four landings in, as you can see from the Google Earth file. (Remember: all takeoffs are optional; all landings are mandatory.) Still, I have to hand it to Chris Johnson, my CFI at Windy City Flyers: all four landings were among the best I've ever made, right on the numbers and so smooth I didn't know I'd touched down until the plane stopped rolling.

Friday, I plan to fly to Janesville, Wis., for a family event. I'm looking forward to spending a couple of hours in a plane again, just flying.

Biennial flight review

Perfect weather yesterday allowed me to finish my BFR. It almost didn't happen, as my usual flight instructor, Chris, got sick the night before and couldn't fly and the plane I'd scheduled lost its transponder earlier in the day. But, the flight school found a plane and an instructor, so off we went. Next time I see Chris, he'll sign off, and I'm good to fly again.

If you have Google Earth, you can not only see my route of flight, but also the actual plane I flew, sitting in its parking space right there in the Google Earth satellite photo.

Landing practice

I still need to do some high-altitude maneuvers (clouds were about 2800 ft, too low for slow turns and stall practice), but I finished much of my biennial flight review today. Interested people who have Google Earth can download the KML file.

What to do in perfect weather...

We get about 30 days a year like this in Chicago: 24°C, perfectly clear, light breeze. As much as I'd have preferred this weather yesterday (I had a flight scheduled but had to cancel because of low ceilings), today Parker and I took advantage of it and walked to Whole Foods. Round trip: 5 ½ km.

Actually, it's all about work. See, I've got a ton of work to do tomorrow, so this way, Parker is all pooped out and sleeps all day. So it's not about goofing off on a summer day, it's about hard work, which in turn is all about preparation.

Slow news day? IATA codes make headlines

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), in conjunction with national aviation authorities like our FAA, maintains the master list of three-letter airport designations throughout the world. (Another group, the International Civil Aviation Organization, maintains a parallel set of four-letter codes that pilots use. For example, the IATA code for London's Heathrow is LHR, but the ICAO code is EGLL.)

The Chicago Tribune has a story today about unexpected and unusual IATA codes:

The good people of Sioux City, Iowa, just don't get any respect.

For more than a century, the city was best known for an omnipresent smell, an unpleasant byproduct of the massive stockyards that drove the local economy. Meat packers would tell their children, "That's the smell of money."

David Letterman used to joke about the town, back in the days when the local CBS television station was not carrying "The Late Show." Letterman would introduce his Top 10 list, saying it had just arrived "from the home office in Sioux City, Iowa."

And then there was -- and still is -- the Sioux Gateway Airport's ignominious three-letter identifying code: SUX. For decades, city fathers have moaned about the label. In 2002, the mayor labeled it "an embarrassment."

Dave Bernstein has heard all the jokes during his 42 years in Sioux City. But, unlike some other residents, he has taken to heart the old adage about what to do when life hands you lemons. He's making T-shirts -- emblazoned with two words: "Fly SUX."

And let's not forget Fukuoka, Japan....

First flight

I finally found the box containing my mother's journals and appointment calendars from 1971 to 1976, 1980 to 1982, and 1990 to 2004. I already had 2005 and 2006, so this fills in a lot. (She stopped writing in late 2006 because she could no longer hold a pen.) Somewhere there's one more box, I hope, but this is by no means certain.

The contents are mostly mundane. One interesting nugget: I finally found the date I first took an airplane flight. On 19 April 1974, at age 3½, I flew from Chicago to Los Angeles with my dad. I'll have to do the math later, but it looks like I've spent about 11 months of my life in L.A. altogether, which is about what I figured.

More later. It's hot, and I'm running late for dinner.