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Still only "nearly" retired...

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I've decided to go back up to Washington for another season of cherry-drying in the Sikorsky S-55.


I know what you're all going to say. "What about the long, angst-ridden post you made a while back about how you didn't want to fly helicopters anymore, ya big baby?? What are you, some kind of big, fat liar?"


(Deep breath and sigh) Yeah...probably.


See, I talked with the company back in January and told them I would not be returning this season. I said that either way someone is going to be pissed at me. But I was going to stay here in Pensacola. Long story- you don't want to hear it. The bossman (Dave Sr.) said he understood.


Then in March he called me back with certain, um, "deal sweeteners." You know the drill: They wanted me back...the customer wanted me back. And they were willing to make it worth my while. It was like trying to get Jerry to do one more season of "Seinfeld."


Another deep breath. I told the Dave I'd think about it and give him an answer in a day. Three days later he called me again and asked if I'd made up my mind? I had not. Talk about mixed feelings!


The trouble is, I have a lot of fun up in Washington. I love the people I work with. The Golden Wings guys are good, generous-to-a-fault, fun-loving and dedicated...and they're motorcyclists as well so that helps a lot. They all love to fly, even Dave Sr. who's got upward of 30,000 hours, yes, 30,000 hours, and you feel it every second you're around them. It makes just being in their hangar one of those precious, incredible experiences that make you glad you chose aviation as a career and not podiatry.


And I love going to the Alex and Rachel's Sweet River Bakery down in nearby Pateros to listen to the live bands and maybe sing some karaoke and eat their fine pizzas and drink all their wonderful local wines (a cab or pinot only, please!). Sitting there at a table outside in the grassy area out back area that overlooks the river as the sun goes down with good friends, good food and good wine is just one of those sublime, "pinch-me" experiences that stay with you forever. It's surreal, man. I often wander around up there thinking that I consider myself-elf-elf the luckiest man-an-an on the face of the earth-rth-rth. But that just may be the wine talking. I do drink a lot of wine.


So yeah, I'm going back up. The good news is in two parts: 1) They're giving me one of the turbine conversion S-55's this time. Not that I think the old radial engines are unreliable or unsafe, but...you know...we all prefer to fly something powered by a turbine, am I right? 2) We usually don't fly very much. I only got about 30 hours last season. Depends on how much it rains.


So call me a hypocrite. I'm still not ever going to take a full-time flying job again, that's for damn sure. But I guess a little part-time gig now and then won't hurt.



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Yeah Ragman, Versatile is our next-door neighbor at the Brewster Airport. Good bunch of guys lead by a complete and utter toolbag illegal alien. And I don't envy them. The S-55 with its 3-blade rotor has something like 27 grease fittings on the main rotor head. The S-58 has *four* blades, so 9 *more* grease fittings...and Versatile hadn't even given their guys electric grease guns last year! At least we have those :)

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You mean, "sitting by a hotel pool waiting for it to rain. And getting paid for it!" And yeah, the rain is the variable. If it doesn't rain a lot, I'll spend a lot of time surfing the web, practicing the guitar and working on my tan. At least there's lots of stuff to do in Wenatchee.


I'll be sitting in an orchard in the Brewster area. We've got an LZ set up where we park two ships, a couple of motorhomes, a fuel truck and a service trailer. Last year I tried to get the company to buy me one of those $400 Walmart above-ground pools. I should've made it a condition of employment this year, but didn't think about it :(

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