Friday, February 27, 2009

Dangerous Pilot - Maximum Scofflaw

A flying story was requested. The following is definitely in the "don't do as I did" category.

Becoming a pilot is expensive. To become commercial rated requires 200 hours of flight time before taking the test. To build time I delivered and repossessed airplanes for a dealer who was as loose an operator as I've known. He always kept keys to the planes he sold under "full recourse" (In effect he co-signed the loan). Miss a few payments and had the plane "recovered".

In June 1969 we were looking for a Tri-Pacer and found it in Baton Rouge. I was the junior guy. While the senior guy distracted people I untied, loaded my stuff, and started the Tri-Pacer. No preflight except checking the oil. I started taxing and called Ground Control for clearance to the active runway when three or four men started running towards me. A long taxiway was in front of me so I used it for a runway. Lots of yelling on the radio by the controllers. Airborne , I turned right and headed North for Mississippi. Weather was bad and fuel was low so I landed in Jackson, MS. The weather got worse and I was stuck for the night.

The next morning Jackson was socked in. I knew the weather was clear thirty miles West and the cloud layer was about 1500' thick and clear above the clouds.

I was not instrument rated. The people at the Jackson airport were becoming hinkey. Looking at my chart, I decided where I would be least likely to encounter legitimate IFR traffic and took off. All my instrument training was "under the hood" and I had never been in clouds. The plan worked and 20 minutes later I was above the clouds. Another 40 minutes and I could see the ground.

I loved the flying but not the genteel poverty of General Aviation. I have vast admiration for the men and women who have made careers in GA - better folks than me to be sure. My short lived aviation career did help my later endevors more than anything else including college and the Army.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Public Range - Anarchy???

A friend and I both have handguns we haven't fired so went to a public range in Weld County, CO. This place has just a few signs and no facilities. Perhaps a dozen vehicles were parked in the area and their occupants were shooting everything from shotguns at clays to someone with a .50. No authority present; just people exercising good judgement and courtesy. Responsible gun ownership at it's finest.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Repo Story Part Two

Finding the car was step one. Step two was coming back with a driver and spare keys. My middle son was available so we set off for Farley.

My middle son looks like the lead character in a Slasher movie. I love him like a son but think his appearance needs adjusting. I've seen gangbangers cross over the street when encountering him.

We arrive at the car, unlock it with the spare key, and middle son gets in. I go to the door of the shack nearby and pound on the door. My target "John" answers. After a brief, intense conversation he goes to the car to retrieve his personal possessions in exchange for keys, owners manual and sales documents. Then he starts whining about the cash down payment he made and when we will give him a refund! We go back to his shack and he produces the keys, etc. I advise him to stay inside for thirty minutes and middle son and I drive away.

I apologize for the lack of drama here. I've done many, many repos/rollbacks without drama. Done correctly, there is no drama. Being 6'+ 285lbs with a naturally red face and scarred knuckles probably helps.

Repo Story

Had a request for a repo story. If you expect something like you see on TruTV you will be disappointed.

At the time this took place my employer had me organize off site car sales. We would rent a parking lot, use a motor home for an office, bring in sixty or more cars, and hold a five day sale. We "spot delivered" every car we could and worried about the financing after the sale. After every sale there would be failed deals and we needed to get the cars back.

Trinidad, CO was a favorite sale site. The people there are great, sales were good, and our crew did their best to stimulate the local nightlife businesses with good results. One customer used his brother's drivers license, social security number and insurance card to buy a car. His brother wasn't too happy when we contacted him to verify some information. The only info he would give us was a post office box in a New Mexico town.

The town is four buildings between Raton and Clayton. One building is a gas station, restaurant, gift shop and post office. The friendly folks didn't have a physical address for my skip but thought he might live in Farley. Farley is an abandon town in the middle of nowhere with no utilities or government. Some buildings are used by squatters and that is where I located our car.

Part Two to follow