Friday, December 25, 2009

Season's Greetings to everyone -- no exceptions...

Wichita -- Nothing like the sharp edge of powder snow powered by 40-knots plus to put a pilot in a holiday mood on Christmas Eve...the winds wiped clean paved surfaces exposed to its power, driving the white crystalline precipitation downwind to pile up on upright, upwind surfaces -- or to scream over an obstruction only to pile waist deep in the wind shadow behind the object.

The driven powder provided its own wind indication downwind of objects out in open fields, evidence of the power and direction visible for days in the future. These elongated triangles of bare ground pointed downwind thanks to rotor turbulence beyond the wind shadows that sucked up snow and carried it onward.

It was Christmas Eve. And the weather was making news as it was remaking travel plans.

And knowing well the storm's likely impact on the waves of weather-challenged drivers -- not to mention the Human Mailing Tube fleets as well as on generally more-human aviation conveyances -- the decision came easily to make an early grocery run for holiday indulgences. The Weather Channel folks kept up a steady patter about the week's second major maelstrom of winter weather, one which let folks in the middle states experience much of what the Eastern Seaboard endured the weekend before.

Other than moving up my visit to the store, the weather little influenced plans for me.

No way anything under my command would fly anywhere on the Christmas Eve, and knowing that early made it easy to turn my thoughts and communiques to loved ones and friends, both nearby and distant, sharing snippets of plans, small talk about our success in evading Mall Madness throughout the season -- and the usual banter of pilots who think common thoughts of the pilots and passengers unwillingly plagued by Mother Nature's insistence that a White Christmas come to as much as the country as possible.

So it came to be, with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day across the middle and much of the eastern U.S., enjoying either fresh snow's clean sparkle or enduring the gray morass of old snow seasoned with salt and petroleum exhaust. Mother Nature will out.

That means some of us missed out on planned visits, some got part-way there, and others sat stuck on the flip side. But no matter where we landed, if in fact we lifted off at all, it's always warming and inspiring to know of so many people of so many different faiths recognizing that a shared spirit can make a holiday among all their own holly days.

Our friends who don't fly never get to experience the wonder of soaring over a winter landscape, seeing the sunrise cruising above golden plains, or watching a sunset into a vast ocean while approaching from the east. For me and many others similarly afflicted, getting airborne feels like a gift every time, even on those days when the "gift" is one we'd otherwise return to the store.

Makes me feel like every gift is a flight which can be balanced only by passing on the gift to others, to pass on the gift, if you will, as often and as well as possible.

So Merry, Happy, Ho-Ho, to friends and fellow flyers, for strangers and friends not yet met: the best of wishes for you and yours, for health, happiness and harmony.

To smoother skies and perpetual tailwinds in the New Year.

And a heartfelt "Thank you!" for making us a part of your aviation life.

-- Dave


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