Friday, October 24, 2008

Of Roller Coasters

I hated roller coasters when I was a kid. Scared the crap out of me. Then, in Jr. High, at Magic Mountain, home of "The Revolution", the worlds first loop coaster, and at the urging of my friends (peer pressure at its finest!), I got on "The Revolution" and found out...


I really like roller coasters!

So much so that I really only like sitting in the front seat of many of the coasters I've been on. It's probably the closest anyone can come to aerobatic flying without an airplane.

In the movie, "Parenthood", Steve Martin's character feels as if life is out of control. In a scene near the end, he is on a roller coaster watching as all hell breaks loose around him. Life has always been associated with roller coasters for as long as there have been roller coasters. Scary and fun and upsetting and thrilling and nauseating and...well you get the picture.

Today was a good roller coaster day.

I actually felt good about flying airplanes again. My stomach didn't nut up when I thought about flying. I actually watched the Weather Channel and thought if I was flying in the Midwest right now I'd be shooting ILS's all day! I applied for a couple of jobs (that I probably won't get but if you don't ask, you'll never know!) Then I went and got the mail.

My former employer had until October 8th to appeal the decision by the EDD judge to reinstate my UI benefits. As that date came and went I waited for the notification. When it seemed like it wasn't going to come I relaxed a little.

But when I opened the mailbox this morning I saw the oh so familiar yellow paper showing through the window on the oh so familiar envelope with the oh so familiar label, "Employment Development Department" on it. My stomach clenched because I knew what it was immediately.

My former employer appealed the appeal. The bottom line is they are still insisting that I was still in the air when I raised the gear and that the Judge really didn't understand what it was I was doing. The implication in their words, without coming right out and saying it but quoting the Section 1256 of the EDD code, was that I willfully and wantonly raised the gear. That I purposely did this to hurt the company.

(Look...if I really wanted to hurt the company, putting a plane down on the runway without its gear down with people on board is the LAST thing I would do!!)

So, I re-iterated my closing argument, included the NTSB report that stated the action was "inadvertent", included pictures that show that the gear was down upon landing, and that I had "landed" the airplane. I will sit on it over the weekend and have an attorney look at it before I mail it.

To be honest, I was (still am at this writing) sooooo freakin' angry. Boiling. Irate. Steamed. At my former employer. It's not like their rate is going to go up. It's already at the highest rate. It's not like $10,000 is going to break the bank with them. They drop $4-$5 million on helicopters (four of which they've crashed this year, killing 9 people in the process), they send my former Dir. of Operations to Redding to the appeal and now they are appealing the appeal.

Personally, I think it's a bit of "we have the power, we will bury you" attitude. They took it personally. And I thinks there's a bit of revenge against me for having called out the D.O. for questioning a legitimate weather turn down and him telling me to send a pilot out on a flight that was illegal.

That was only part of the roller coaster ride. The high fall from the top; weightless for a moment, stomach riding up in your body, bile tickling your throat only to be followed by the crush of G's as you rocket up into the loop, again, momentarily weightless at the top, then smashed back into your seat as you plummet to the bottom only to be rocketed out into a high G turn.

It was later in the day that the ride slowed as we climbed the next hill. I ran into the gal who has been my liason with IASCO. (They are supposedly going to hire me to teach Chinese students how to fly.) She mentioned, again, that she's asked the Chief Flight Instructor to call me and let me know when I might be hired. It seems that the pieces are falling into place and they should be up and running the first week of December.

God works in funny ways. I was first told it would be Sept. 1. Then it was Oct 15. Then it was Nov. 15th. That was going to be a problem as I have a family reunion of sorts over Thanksgiving in Texas to which we've already bought plane tickets and they are non-refundable. I figured if it was Nov. 15th, I'd be hosed as I would be leaving the next week for Texas. Now it's working out a little better. I'm nearing the top of the next hill and I can just start to see the horizon through the clouds....maybe...


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