Words on Wednesdays: Chung


November is NaNoWriMo

“It’s time”

I revolted. “Now, ” I asked.

It can’t be. I thought desperately. How can it be now. It was still premature. I hadn’t seen anything or suspected anything to make me think a change was needed.

“He is highly erratic and uncontrollable. He has been saying things. Once he had a drink, he is beyond control.”

“It’s Nathan! Dammit! We were in Nam together…”, my voice petered out.

“Are you telling me you wont do it? Is this the time you are telling me that you are not capable of doing the things you promised?”

I had gotten myself into things far beyond me. I couldn’t do this to Nathan. All the visions we had as teenagers, about country, about the world, about freedom, and all the good we could do.

Nathan, who had saved my life. Who was going to save him now?

Sri


Words on Wednesdays…

In memory of Sri

Fly 'n Things

NaNoWriMore

“Sri Rama Chandra Murthy!” yelled Chung.

The voice reverberated across the floor. Each of us, stopped what we were doing, while we waited for the echo to end and peered around to see what the ruckus was about. A yell from Chung of this magnitude meant only one thing: not good.

“Keep your shirt on, Chung. I am right here,” Sri responded, with a hint of laughter in his voice, after what seemed an eternity, getting up from one of the desks in the corner.

Chung eyed him squarely, as if he could devour him with his gaze. “And what took you so long to respond?” he queried sternly. “I thought you might like a moment to chill out,” smiled Sri, nonchalantly and easily, as he headed over to the front desk.

“Hey dude, you know I thought you handled Bert with aplomb. I knew I could count on…

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Sri


NaNoWriMore

“Sri Rama Chandra Murthy!” yelled Chung.

The voice reverberated across the floor. Each of us, stopped what we were doing, while we waited for the echo to end and peered around to see what the ruckus was about. A yell from Chung of this magnitude meant only one thing: not good.

“Keep your shirt on, Chung. I am right here,” Sri responded, with a hint of laughter in his voice, after what seemed an eternity, getting up from one of the desks in the corner.

Chung eyed him squarely, as if he could devour him with his gaze. “And what took you so long to respond?” he queried sternly. “I thought you might like a moment to chill out,” smiled Sri, nonchalantly and easily, as he headed over to the front desk.

“Hey dude, you know I thought you handled Bert with aplomb. I knew I could count on you. Hearing you giving him the run through on the club rules and how you would make mince-meat of him if he even had a single straying thought in that direction was superb. You know I always admire the way you handle things around here with the precision of the military general. You know you never finished telling me the story about how you…”, the voices faded as Sri, yet again smoothly and suavely, averted another showdown with Chung and had him distracted enough, to be eating out his hands. I could soon hear laughter as yet again Chung reminisced about his war days recounting another of his escapades, the issue with Bert long forgotten.

Sri was an easy going chap, always smiling, cheerful and well-loved equally by instructors and students alike. He had a sharp mind, a computer engineer by profession, and a flight instructor by choice. He had shown up at the flight school a couple of years ago wanting to get flying lessons. He had swarmed through the professional program that Dessert Air offered from private pilot to certified flight instructor within a year and was now a part time CFI. Most weekends he could be seen hanging out in the lounge when not teaching, having long debates with anyone who was around about any topic in the world. He was a geek at heart.

Truth be told, I had a fondness for Sri. He was my first student at Dessert Air.

One fine summer morning, he had shown up at the flight school asking about classes. Things were slow. Not too many students to feed all the out of work CFI. I hung around the lounge, anxious to get in the air even if in a two seater. Being in the air felt normal. Sitting around twiddling my thumbs waiting for someone or something was not my thing.

On one of those bright summer mornings, Sri had shown up promptly at 9:00 am on a Saturday morning. I could hear the excitement in his voice as he queried the front desk personnel, “I want to learn to fly. What do I need to get started?”

It was one of those lucky days for me. I was glad I had woken up early and showed up at 9:00am. Sri was an exemplary student. He was a quick learner and at times spoke incessantly. I could hear the concern in his voice as he expressed doubts and the assertiveness as he argued a point. He had a plethora of random bits of knowledge and it was impossible to outsmart any debate with him. He almost always had the last word.

At the end of that first discovery flight, he admitted to having an aunt who was pilot and having flown with her over the glorious San Francisco Bay as a 17 year old. The joy and incredible enthusiasm in his voice as he recounted those memories and how they sparked his excitement and eagerness spoke volumes about his passion for flying. How could I doubt a teenager’s eagerness to be a pilot?

I had been in his shoes, not so long ago. In a way, Sri was my savior. On a day, when my world was crumbling, he was the anchor that steered me in.

And so began my second career as a CFI.

September


I finally have the next three weeks free to work on my novel. Almost. Once I am done with what is still undone 🙂

Here is my revised chapter on September.

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

I was in the deep throes of slumber, when I was rudely awakened by my very persistent alarm clock. It can’t be 4:00 a.m. already, I thought sleepily, as I pulled the comforter tightly around me, reaching over to hit the snooze button, without opening my eyes. I must have set it wrong. It definitely had to be wrong. Hadn’t I just barely gone to bed?

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

The alarm screeched again, more persistent than ever.

Okay you bugger, stop barking, I swore getting out of bed and leaning over the damn clock to put an end to its misery and just for added credence checked my phone to verify it indeed was past 4:00 a.m.

Yawning, I sleepily pulled on a sweatshirt and made it to the bathroom. I had 30 minutes to be ready before my ride arrived to whisk me to my job. This was going to be a long day. The first leg of my trip was a short hop to LAX, we would pick up our next batch of passengers for the longer haul to JFK.

I turned on the coffee machine, while brushing my teeth and wondered if I should spend an extra day in New York. I was at the end of my current rotation and not scheduled to fly the next couple of days. Flights on reserve were few and far in between, considering the long list of pilots on reserve. On the other hand, I could work on my motorcycle, change the oil and rev it up for my upcoming trip with Alan. It wasn’t long after I joined Galt Airlines as First Officer that I had run into Alan Sheppard. He too was a First Officer at Galt and a motorcycle aficionado. Every opportunity we got, we stole away in our bikes hitting the Pacific Coast Freeway or one of the Highways east: 41 or 46 or 58.

RING. RING. RING. RING.

The phone rang, waking me from my reverie.

“Just checking you’re up dude,” Tim, my ride, spoke lazily. “I will be there in 15 minutes. Don’t keep me waiting, I still have to swing by Eliza’s.” he spoke.

“How come? I thought we agreed that I would be the last one you would pick up,” I said annoyed to lose my extra 10 minutes.

“Well, things changed.” he laughed.

“Yeah, I bet Eliza likely sweet talked you into it. What did she offer?” I asked.

“Dude, nothing. It just worked out best for the route. I’ll see you soon.” he said as he hung up.

I ran through my morning ablutions almost in automation still wondering about New York. Should I pack an additional pair of clothes or not, I pondered when I got the buzzer from the front desk “Your ride is here.”

Quickly grabbing my backpack, cap and blazer I headed for the elevators. New York can wait. Maybe another time.

We pulled into the terminal building by 5:00 am. I checked in the pilot lounge and signed in. Perusing my schedule, I saw I was flying with Captain Bill Atwater. Bill was always fun. He could tell a story well and he knew many a story. After a brief stint in the army, doing a rotation in Nam, Bill had returned home and pursued a career in the Airline industry. He had a solid 30 years of service, well respected and admired by many budding pilots, including myself. The day although long, was at least not going to be boring!

I headed over to the airplane to begin the pre-flight checks. As first officer, it was my duty to do the outside walk around and inspect the flight. Entering the cockpit, I saw Bill already there going over the details of the flight.

“Morning, John. Looks like it is going to be an easy, breezy flight. I see you are also on the schedule for the next flight leg to the east coast.” Bill greeted me.

“Captain,” I responded. “Good to see.”

“Everything look good on the outside?” he queried.

“Everything looks fine. Charlie mentioned that we have an old friend jump seating.” I said.

“Did he? Did he say who?” Captain appeared pre-occupied pouring over the flight schedule.

“No, he’s keeping it a surprise. Anything bothering you,” I asked.

“We might have a problem with extra baggage.” Bill responded absentmindedly.

“Okay, shall I talk to Charlie?”  I asked.

“Not just yet. We’ll…”

“William Turner Atwater!” bellowed a voice.

“Teddy! Is it really you?” laughed Bill, getting up and hauling Teddy into a warm embrace. Theodore Edward Graham was another legend at the airline. “So you are the surprise. Well. Well. John, do you know Teddy?”

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him in person, but of course I have heard about him. Who hasn’t?” I responded.

“He and I were together at Nam and fought side by side. We quit the army around the same time and chose a career in aviation. Thirty years. And it comes to an end soon. I heard you are retiring soon, Teddy.” Bill said looking at Teddy.

“Yep. In fact today is my last day. I jump seat with you to LAX, pick up the flight to DCA. My last flight.” He answered.

“Are you planning to retire in the Capital?” questioned Bill.

“No, just have to take care of some business out east, and then I will move permanently to Lancaster, CA. I still own a home there. Millie and I will settle down there. How much longer do you have?” Teddy asked.

“I retire at the end of the year. Good to hear that you are still going to be in California. Jill and I plan to retire in San Luis Obispo, so we will be practically neighbors.” Bill responded enthusiastically.

“Captain, ready to load the passengers?” asked Nina, our chief stewardess, peeking into the cockpit.

“Yes, better get them in, before they start a strike,” joked the Captain.

Thirty minutes later with the herds loaded, weight and balance resolved, we finally closed the airplane doors and taxied in line to depart from Runway 28L.

I like these early morning departures. Daylight was barely breaking through. There was some early morning fog hugging the coastline. The lights of San Francisco were like beacons suspended in space. Off to the right was the Bay Bridge glistening in silver. Even this early in the morning, I could see traffic beginning to increase. And to the right, glinting golden with the streaks of dawn was the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, connecting Marin County to Downtown San Francisco. Wisps of white fog floated. We climbed steadily and headed towards Point Reyes, before turning to intercept the 281 radial to Woodside.

I always enjoyed flying the Golden Gate Arrival during evening twilight or dusk as well. It is breathtaking, or sometimes, as is often possible, when the fog rolls in and the Golden Gate remains suspended in space, resplendent in the evening glow. Seeing the Golden Gate any time of the day or night means coming home. The setting sun over the Pacific, the crisp sunny skies with fog looming over the valley, are a comforting sight. I love flying from my home town of San Francisco, CA.

The trip to LAX was a mere one hour and 2 minutes. Within minutes we were headed direct to Avenal VORTAC and cruising in level flight. Arriving at Avenal we will execute the arrival procedure into LAX.

After a brief stint as a charter pilot, I had jumped at a chance to fly First Officer at Galt Airlines. The housing boom had propelled the Silicon Valley to great heights. I was what was known as a reserve pilot: always on call. The past two years, I had grabbed any and all flights that I could get. Over the last two years, I had flown this route many times.  I could literally fly that route blind folded.

I could hear the bantering between Bill and Teddy as they joked about bygone days. I wished the flight were longer. One did not get the opportunity to fly with not one but two legends in the same cockpit. Bill flew the plane with expert precision and finesse.

We had arrived at Avenal and were already working through our before landing checklist, when a call from our dispatch office buzzed in. Seconds later, we had communication with the Air Traffic Control.

Neither of us knew that moment, how irrevocably, all our lives were going to be changed.

NaNoWriMo Wrapup


November was NaNoWriMo. I pledged to write 50,000 words.

https://i0.wp.com/d3bhawflmd1fic.cloudfront.net/assets/crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafb.png

Yesterday, it ended finally. And I failed.

It was an over ambitious  goal to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  I knew it right at the beginning. Still all is not lost. I don’t consider the effort a total failure.

While I might not have met my word count goal, I did finally spend time to chalk out the plot line, the events, the characters and the mystery.  And even wrote several chapters.  I didn’t write daily, and in fact didn’t write most of the month. Strangely enough November ended up being way too busy. Way too busy than normal. Did I mention I work 40+ hours?  I flew most weekends in November as well.  I don’t want to give reasons as to why I didn’t write. Considering the few days, actually hours I spent on this, it was still worthwhile. I enjoyed every moment, creating the characters, the scenes, the mystery and  building the plot.

This was the first time I was focused on a full length novel, so it was an interesting exercise to work the details, keep the dates right, the names right and tie all the events together cohesively.

As far as I am concerned, the writing will continue. My goals remains unchanged. And I have a mystery to solve!

Here’s another fragment for your enjoyment. Enjoy!

September

“William Turner Atwater!” bellowed a voice.

“Teddy! Is it really you?” laughed Bill, getting up and hauling Teddy into a warm embrace. Theodore Edward Graham was another legend at the airline. “So you are the surprise. Well. Well. John, do you know Teddy?”

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him in person, but of course I have heard about him. Who hasn’t?” I responded, shaking Teddy’s hand.

“He and I were together at Nam and fought side by side. We quit the army around the same time and chose a career in aviation. Thirty years. And it comes to an end soon. I heard you are retiring soon, Teddy.” Bill said, looking at Teddy.

“Yep. In fact today is my last day. I jump seat with you to LAX, pick up the flight to DC. My last flight.” He answered wistfully.

“Are you planning to retire in the Capital?” questioned Bill.

“No, just have to take care of some business out east, and then I will move permanently to Lancaster, CA. I still own a home there. Millie and I will settle down there. How much longer do you have?” Teddy asked.

“I have one more year to go. Good to hear that you are still going to be in California. Jill and I plan to retire in San Luis Obispo, so we will be practically neighbors.” Bill responded enthusiastically.

“Captain, ready to load the passengers?” asked Nina, our chief flight crew member, peeking into the cockpit.

“Yes, better get them in, before they start a strike,” joked the Captain.

Thirty minutes later with the passengers loaded, weight and balance resolved, we finally closed the airplane doors and taxied in line to depart from Runway 28L.

I like these early morning departures. Daylight was barely breaking through. There was some early morning fog hugging the coastline. The lights of San Francisco were like beacons suspended in space. Off to the right was the Bay Bridge glistening in silver. Even this early in the morning, I could see traffic trickling through. And to the right, glinting golden with the streaks of dawn was the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. Wisps of white fog floated. We climbed steadily and headed towards Point Reyes, before turning to intercept the radial to Woodside VOR.

I always enjoyed flying the Golden Gate Arrival during evening twilight or dusk as well. It is breathtaking, or sometimes, as is often possible, when the fog rolls in and the Golden Gate remains suspended in space, resplendent in the evening glow. Seeing the Golden Gate any time of the day or night means coming home. The setting sun over the Pacific, the crisp sunny skies with fog looming over the valley, were a comforting sight. I loved flying from my home town of San Francisco.

The trip to LAX was a mere one hour. Within minutes we were headed direct to AVX VORTAC and cruising in level flight. Arriving at AVX we will execute the arrival procedure into LAX. Over the last two years, I had flown this route many times. I could literally fly this route blind folded.

I could hear the bantering between Bill and Teddy as they joked about bygone days. I wished the flight were longer. One did not get the opportunity to fly with not one but two legends in the same cockpit. Bill flew the plane with expert precision and finesse.

We had arrived at AVE and were already working through our before landing checklist, when a call from our dispatch office buzzed in. Seconds later, we had communication with the Air Traffic Control.

Neither of us knew that moment, how irrevocably, all our lives were going to be changed.

This and That


Winter is not yet here, but my flying attempts have been floundering lately. I planned, re-planned and hoped to succeed in organizing a Niagara Flyout this year, but failed yet again. Good thing we had a backup plan in place. We got to drive to several museums and core airports to collect stamps instead  in October.  Our plan to do more stamp collecting failed, yet again, in late October. Forecast called for high winds, and we decided to cancel. Although, several attended Chili Night at the airport for some hanger flying and firming up of plans for the upcoming Bahama Flyout.

d1

The Citabria, has been down for maintenance most of October, so I didn’t get to fly it much. It is finally online again, and I hope to get in some flying, before winter closes in. Travel, winds, weather and more, fingers crossed on this one!

goneflying1November and in fact the winter months seem to be a perfect time to strengthen my writing skills and work on my novel. There is much research work needed and much  work in  sharpening my writing skills, to achieve a reasonable work of fiction worth publishing. This is exciting, since I have thought about this often, but never taken action.

HeroesI didn’t fly in October although,  it is the one month, I typically plan some exotic flying destination.  My life revolves around Aviation. I literally think flying 16 hours of the day. Not all about my flying 🙂

I’ve been busy, and that is always excellent news.

We have another stamp collecting flight planned in November weather permitting. The days have gotten shorter and the weather unpredictable. Lately the weather (or forecast weather) has been off a lot, making it difficult to plan, and ultimately to execute our plans.

Have a good one!