Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sunday wasn't a good day. All is explained here.

Needless to say...I can't pray. The words just stick. As a matter of fact, during the whole incident, I wasn't even able to say, "Dear God..GET ME OUTTA HERE!" All I got out was, "Dear Go..."

Honestly, the old adage about aviation being "hours and hours of sheer boredom interrupted by moments of sheer terror" was played out in a matter of 1 and half minutes over Red Bluff, California last Sunday night.

But now I find it hard to pray. Intellectually I know it was God + all my training and I am grateful that I get to see my wife and kids, but trying to pray is...hard.

I'm not sure what "syndrome" this may be or if I'm still somewhat shocky but it concerns me.

The crew on the plane love me to death now and have expressed, repeatedly, that I'm their new best friend because I got them home alive. I understand that but emotionally I can't respond.




Monday, January 28, 2008

Last Night, Around 1950 PST

Weather in California has been in the news lately, mainly L.A. and SFO. Lots of icing, snow, turbulence...not uncommon this time of year.

We got a call for a RDD to MCC flight and weather was above VFR at both locations. Reports of light icing and occasional moderate chop at all altitudes, airmets for light rime in clouds and precip...normal. Radar showed lots of light and medium greens with dark greens and yellow/orange in the mountains, to be expected. Winds aloft, SW at about 30...again, not uncommon.

This is in a KA200...

Flight south went smooth. Actually...smoooooth at altitude (150)! Waited on the ground for a couple of hours, crew brought back Chipotle burritos for dinner! Around 1900 PST I double checked the weather and radar showed light to medium greens moving northeast and out of the area, clear behind it along my route of flight. Occluded front was east of my route and the Low was northeast of RDD. Cold front was still showing between Arcata and Red Bluff and hadn't moved much all day.

Oakland Center gives me direct DIBLE for the ILS RWY 34 with a circle to RWY 16 at RDD due to strong SE winds gusting to 20+. Ceilings are 1600 BKN, vis is 10+...good for the circle. Get a descent down to 4000'. Around 4500 we hit a huge jolt and shot up. VSI hit 3000 fpm and we were tossed around quite a bit. Auto pilot comes off and I'm hand flying.

For the next 1 to 1.5 minutes we had one more huge jolt (nurse said he thought the plane was going to come apart) and my flight bag rose up to greet me at eye level then slammed into the co-pilot seat. I could hear stuff slamming around in back. Center, every helpful, kept asking me if I wanted a turn or a vector. All I could say was, "MODERATE....SEVERE...UP 3000, DOWN 3000!"

Center acknowledged and shut up. Unlike the moron who so kindly said, over the air, "You know you're saying that on the air??"

My reply?



Next thing I know I'm going down 3000 fpm through 3000 MSL. Terrain below is 300 - 600 AGL. I was at 220, flight idle, props max, trying like hard to get the airplane slowed down and/or climbing because the little math teacher in my head is saying, "Less than one minute to a crash landing."

I immediately told him to STFU as I wasn't dying tonight!

Another updraft, 3000 fpm (at least they were consistent) and I pop out at 5800 MSL into semi-clear air.

The ILS was only one dot off and the GS was nailed.

I asked RDD tower to turn up the lights and he said, "There ya go. Is that going to be too bright?"

I said, "That's the most beautiful thing I've seen today!"

He laughed and cleared me to land on RWY 34..."Winds calm."

My EFIS went teats up and spun so I shot the approach off the right side instruments (all those guys who looked at me funny when I told them to back up the approach in #2 radio and right side....well...)

We landed at RDD, my medic immediately puked. My nurse couldn't get out of the plane fast enough. I called maint and had them do a walk-around with me. We checked the EFIS, worked fine. Airplane was okay...built like a brick.

That's the worst I've ever been in and I flew freight in 402's for 4 years, then taught freight/402's for a year and a half, flew low-level for the USFS and did flight instruction.

My legs were like rubber for an hour afterwards. My medic was still crying this morning when she left for home and my nurse, also the Base Manager, went home last night and hasn't answered his phone.

So today I'm putting together my statement for the DO, gathering weather info (Thanks to those who responded to my thread/call for help!), and filing an internal report. Thursday is a conference call about the incident with Safety and the other pilots.

Needless to say, I'm still a bit shook. Really could have used a stiff drink last night but took a couple of muscle relaxer/sleep aids instead.

Anybody know the name of that truck driving school? Truckmasters I think it was....


Friday, January 11, 2008

Slippery Slope

For the most part, I think the ACLU is full of libtard nut-jobs who ain't happy until nobody's happy. But, I think I might have to agree, somewhat, with them on this one...

In its written objection to the law, the ACLU claims REAL ID amounts to the "first-ever national identity card system," which "would irreparably damage the fabric of American life."

I understand the concerns of the Federal government; the hijackers had multiple driver's licenses registered to them. But I think this is a States Rights issue. Complicated to be sure and I don't think there's going to be an easy answer.

I also think there are going to be two camps should this go through further polarizing our country. One camp will scream their rights are being violated. Those will include the fringe kooks who see conspiracy behind every news story as well as those who see the ever-encroaching US gov't taking one more step closer to their Constitutional rights to privacy.

EDIT: I was taken to task at another board for the above sentence. My point was that people interpret "provide protection" both internally and externally as a justification for limiting/giving up certain rights.

The other camp will nod their head and say, "Yep, we can't do it so we should let the gov't handle it...too much for the States, this is a national security issue." This camp will include those who think the gov't owes them safety. Those people need to read the Declaration and the Constitution a little more closely.

9/11 changed the US more than Dec. 7th (Pearl Harbor attack for those of you who went through the Public School system!) After Dec. 7th, we united to stand against an aggressor. We rallied around our President regardless of our political affiliations and sacrificed for the greater good. We gave up some freedoms but most were returned to us. After 9/11, we sought out who to blame, hid in our homes, and closed our eyes to how, as a society and a country, we allowed our defenses down in the name of not hurting anyone's feelings. We gave up some of our freedoms reluctantly and have yet to get many of them back. We have a gov't we can't always trust anymore because many politicians and voters have decided that Washington knows best how to take care of us because many of us have let Washington take care of us instead of striving to take care of us and our own.

It's a mess we have no one to blame for but ourselves. The solution will not be pretty and will piss many people off. Unfortunately, not all medicine is chocolate coated to help the taste...


Monday, January 07, 2008

Broken Wrists and Corporate Idiocy

Back in June, my son broke his wrist. He fell from his scooter when it hit a piece of pea gravel on our driveway. Small fracture, easily set. He is covered under my wife's insurance policy. Her company pays for the entire premium but has a very high deductible...$5100. When we got the bill it was $3225...no break down of charges, just $3225. My wife called and asked if she could make payments or talk to someone about a break down of charges and was basically told "no, we don't do payments."

Enter the husband.

I call the hospital, Shasta Regional Medical Center here in Redding. I ask for an itemized bill before I make any payments. That's fair. No problem. "It's in the mail Mr. Lancaster."

I get the bill and see things like:

Sodium Bicarb, Pediatric - $138.00
Cold Pack - $70.00
2 Gal. Plastic Bucket - $86.00
Lidocaine, 1%, 30ml - $115.00
Splint - $338
Administer Single Vaccination - $52.00

Other charges include nearly $1000 for X-rays of his wrist. (The orthopeadist who saw him later charged me $50 a pop for the very same x-rays!)

Being the kind of person who now does research in to things before he buys and working for an air ambulance outfit, I go to www.boundtree.com and find out what this stuff costs...really.

Surprise, surprise, surprise!

Sodium Bicarb - $4.66
Cold Pack - $17
Splint - $32
Lidocaine - $17.95

And so on.

I call back to the hospital and ask to meet with someone or speak with someone to dispute some of these charges. "We don't do that. You must mail your disputation to us."

No problem. Print out a nice letter complete with graphs and charts and a request to discuss such asinine charges and wait...

And wait...

And wait...

Finally, get a phone call. "Sorry. State of California says we have to charge that amount. Oh, and by the way, we found a couple more charges we forgot to charge you for so your bill just went up to $3714!"


They offer to re-bill the insurance company to which I reply, go ahead, won't do any good. We are responsible for these charges and would like to negotiate a payment that is equitable to both parties.

They re-bill the insurance company anyways.

On top of all of this, I am offering to make some kind of monetary payment to keep the collection agency they sicced on me who kept calling every Monday at 8 a.m. and sending me letters every month off my back. Nope. Don't send any money, it will just mess up our system.

Greeaaat...now it looks like I'm a delinquent!

Finally get someone to call off the collection agency dogs. She says she'll kick it up the food chain and not to worry, I should hear back in a couple of weeks.

Two months go by.

Sister's Birthday.
New Years.
Dad's Birthday.

I open the mail today...1/7/08 to find another nasty-gram from the hospital via the collection agency. For $3495.


What the...

Soooo...I get on the phone and rant.

I rant hard.

I rant loud.

I use words you shouldn't use in polite company.

I escalate the call.

I get told it's the insurance companies problem, they haven't notified the hospital. You should call Blue Cross and see what's going on.


The nice computer at Blue Cross says they've received 3 statements from SRMC, two were denied (no duh...we didn't meet the deductible.) one was sent back "approved, patient is responsible for the $3225."

Gee...didn't I say that way back in June?!

I file an appeal via Blue Cross against the hospital then call back to the hospital to let them know what's coming down the pike and again, ask for someone who can help me resolve this issue.

Finally...I get someone who has the authority to do something on the phone. I give him the Reader's Digest version and he says, "No problem. Let me cut the bill in half and you pay by the 31st."

Great...that's all I wanted. Someone to make a decision. Someone to work with me on this bill. Someone who wouldn't give me the corporate run-around. Someone who responds well to threats of lawsuits and a phone call to "60 Minutes"!!

Seriously. How hard would it have been to simply say, "Sure, you want to pay but aren't going to be raped by outrageous charges that both you and I know are what's wrong with the health care system in America today. You and I can meet at such-and-such a day at such-and-such a time to discuss this issue."

Oh, I see. It doesn't work that way.

So now the gals that answer the phone at Patient Services at Shasta Regional Medical Center think I'm some kind of raging lunatic who doesn't want to pay his bills. Far from it. I started out calm, explaining in plain English, what do I need to do to get this resolved plus stating that I was standing my ground about not paying the full $70 for a cold pack (they're $4.99+tax at Walgreen's!). I ended up ranting like a lunatic!

Right in the middle of today's rant, I quickly thought, "What's my BP now!?" It was 110/70 this morning at the doctor's office. I'm sure it was much higher 30 minutes ago!