Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Spirit of Paradise

Somebody pinch me! After working for two years we finally finished a project that has been looming over our heads...literally.

The "Spirit of Paradise" will be the only float plane operating in Papua New Guinea and will be a lifeline for some 500,000 people. It will be based in an area where there is one hospital and most of the villagers live a good 14 day hike through the jungle away. In this plane we can reach most of those villages within an hour!

The plane is on tour around America at this time and will be on display at AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI from the 28th of July to the 4th of August. If you happen to attend be sure to visit us at the Vette Seaplane Base.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Good Rush or Two

Have you ever had a good rush...the kind that makes your blood run hot from your head to your toes and you can hear your heart beating in your ears? I've had two of them in the past few weeks. I wouldn't say I enjoyed the experiences but they did supply a healthy dose of adrenaline.

Rush One:

I live on the west side of the Rockie Mountains. Denver is on the east side and the flight across is over some of the most rugged terrain in the lower 48. A few weeks ago I was making the flight at night with a patient and his dad on board when the engine started running rough. We keep our planes in the best condition possible so there usually aren't any issues.

I was over Monarch Pass when the problem started and I called Denver Center to let them know. The closest airport was Gunnison (about 30 miles away) so I made a B-line for the final approach on that runway. I watched on the JPI as the temps on cylinder #5 started to dwindle and then totally go off the chart. I was at 16,000 feet and stayed high so that I would have as much time to glide as possible if the engine totally stopped. I couldn't change the power setting because I had no way of telling exactly what was wrong and didn't want to make it worse.

Center told me to call them as soon as I got on the ground because they lost me on radar when I started my descent into Gunnison. I was high and fast on final approach on purpose because I had no idea how long I would have power after I changed the engine setting and wanted to make the runway. The dad was awake but really didn't know what was going on and the little boy was fast asleep on the stretcher. I had to get it right for them.

A few clicks on the radio and the runway lights came into sight. I put the gear down at 180 mph(extention speed is 160 but gear doors didn't matter as much at that point) and dropped all the flaps as soon as I could. It was a cool calm night and I was happy to feel the runway as it reached up and kissed the tires. We were on the ground safe. I called Denver Center to let them know and thanked God that we made it.

It turns out that the engine problem was a clogged injector and was easily fixed. I had no way of knowing that during the flight and even though the rush was there, we were never really in big danger.

Rush Two:

Last Saturday I delivered a couple people to the Denver International Airport and was driving back to the smaller airport where the plane was waiting. The highway is a toll road and is much like the Florida Turnpike. I was going about 80 and was deep in thought when I looked up just in time to see a Ford Ranger in my lane about 30 yards in front of me. It took a half second for me to realize that I was looking at the front of the truck and not the back.

I swerved into the grass still going 80 and missed a head on with him by a matter of feet. Then I started sliding and dust was flying everywhere. I came back up on the highway going about 50 and tried to remember the number to 911 (my brain was jello for a few minutes) after I found my phone on the floorboard. It turns out the guy had a medical problem and they got him stopped before he killed anyone. I have had several close calls and that one certainly made the list. Wow...what a rush! Next time I'll fly into DIA and pay the landing fee.

The pictures are the of the mountains I was over when the engine started acting up.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The 4th in Ouray

Ouray (U-Ray) is a little town just thirty miles to the south of us that is nestled in the San Juan Mountains and is called the Swiss Alps of America ( I love to go there for the 4th of July because of the history and old west feel. More than anything I love the water fights. You may think of squirt guns and watter balloons but its a little more than that...they use fire hoses.

There are two, two person teams and they have it out with big fire hoses. They wear protective gear and helmets with face masks that come down to their chests. More than one person has been carted off when the water blast went under his helmet and instantly drowned him. Who knows why they do it, but I guess this is the Wild West. When the lead guy on a team gets sprayed in the head and can't see what he's doing he usually misses the other team and sprays a jet of water into the crowd. The whole experience is a blast and has come to be a 4th of July tradition around here.

Here are a few pics from the day. I hope your 4th was just as much fun!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Making Memories With Avery

I'm not a big fan of professional sports because I'm usually too busy doing my own thing to care. One exception to this rule is motocross racing. This past weekend Avery and I were able to go to a Motocross Nationals race when the series came through Denver. We went with Scott Friedman, a good friend of mine, and four of his boys. It was a really cool father-son event.

We spent early part of the day in the pit area meeting some of the riders and watching their mechanics work on the bikes. We were suppose to leave the pits just before the races began but got in with some of #800 Mike Alessi's crew and were able to get VIP passes. We were so close to the track that we were getting sprayed with dirt as they went by. #7 James Stuart won as was expected but one of our favorite riders, Ryan Dungey ended up in the hospital.

It is amazing how fast these guys are and the talent they have for the sport. It is high risk with the possibility of broken bones on every jump. If you ever get the chance I would strongly suggest going to a Nationals Race. Even if you don't race it is a cool thing to watch!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mercy Flight

Early this morning I flew a 66 year old man who has cancer to Denver for treatment. His wife came along and it was a beautiful flight across the Rockies. I'm working on my laptop while waiting for them to return from medical treatment. We plan to fly back tonight. Please take a minute to pray for him. His name is Dick and his wife is Cindy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mercy Flights and Races

Do you have a you have face you have my space...I keep hearing these questions from friends who want to put me in their webs. I've held out for a long time but just last week Kevin, an old friend who just happens to be, Mr. Tech Man Of The World...came by with his family and pushed me right off the edge with his iPhone that sends updates right to his blog. So here goes...I'm blogging.

I'm sitting in an executive terminal in Denver waiting for a seven year old boy named Justice who has cancer to return from Children's hospital with his dad. The plan is to fly them back home across the Rockies, but we may have to wait till morning because winds aloft are gusting to 60 MPH and I'm not sure the little guy can handle the turbulence. I do these flights quite a bit and they are often sad. The hardest, by far, is dealing with a boy who is only a year older than my son. The good news is that he is holding his own and the treatment seems to be working. Say a prayer for Justice is you think of it.

My life is running at full-tilt right now so to get away and recharge, I throw a leg over my... maybe a little fear, red bull, Honda... and tap into 450 horses of non-stop therapy. This past weekend I raced a Supercross in Colorado Springs and a Motocross in Denver. They were the first races of the season for me because my schedule has not allowed me to make any others. This is going to be a sparse season because of all that is going on with Samaritan this summer. I'll take what I can get though, and this past weekend was a major treat.