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Monday, May 2, 2016

Roughing it in California

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mea culpa! A reader very correctly pointed out that the dam and reservoir north of McCook is located on the Red Willow Creek, not the Medicine as I had written. It makes me wonder how the mind can twist around well known facts. I know not why but notice that it happens more often as I get older. Yes by all means fix the dam!

The point that I was trying to make was that being as the Bureau of Reclamation is charged with managing and keeping in good repair that dam and reservoir they should include those funds in their regular budget. However in a large bureaucracy it somehow becomes more important to launch new and exciting projects than tend to the mundane challenges of regular maintenance and repair. Then too bureaucrats are aided and abetted by politicians that are all too happy to slip big ticket line items, a $10 million repair bill for the Red Willow Dam, into some non-related budget bill. The pay back is to announce how "I secured those essential funds for the good of the community" and unspoken "you can repay me with your vote."

It is a sorry way of doing business but one only has to look at the highway omnibus "infrastructure repair" allocation bill wending its way through Congress at the present to see how it is done. Business as usual.

It is raining this evening here in Orange County, just east of the greater Los Angeles area. The hills are green and one can look over those hills and see snow capped peaks. The lawns are green and flowers bloom everywhere. Further north in the San Joaquin Valley the almond and peach orchards are in full bloom. The weather is shirt sleeve here and it was snowing this morning in. Southwestern Nebraska. Life is good and it is an excellent time to visit our SoCal kids and grandkids.

California is a wonderful mix of people from around the world. A couple evenings ago we dined with a young woman from Haiphong, Vietnam. I saw her city from about 20 miles away in 1967 but we stayed just out of range fearing a surface to air missile launch at our aircraft. Here we were dining together in a Vietnamese noodle shop. Our young lady commented that the food was from the southern part of her country and small wonder as the small restaurant is operated by refugees from the war in South Vietnam.

Following the meal we shopped at a huge Muslim grocery store in the large Muslim community in Anaheim. There was nary a burka or chador in sight. The deli presented prepared foods from the Mediterranean to Pakistan--a wonderful variety. In the green grocery section. as always in California near where they grow, we found great variety of items, all wonderfully fresh.

A downer is the price of auto gas. I paid $3.899$ a gallon today and saw $4.259 posted for regular in another station . Don't blame me though I didn't vote for him!

The reason (excuse) for being in Southern California was to attend a Flight Instructor Recurrency Clinic. It is a two year continuing education requirement for those of us who have the privilege of teaching people to fly. There is no actual flying involved, purely an academic exercise. Esoteric subjects such as FAA Safety updates, changes in Flight Regulations, Instructor Professionalism/Fundamentals of Instruction, Teaching Emergency Landings, and the list goes on. New techniques were presented for encouraging students to continue flight training ; recently about 85 percent of those who start training quit before attaining a license. Incidentally my own students record of completions is much better. The subjects to be covered are directed by the FAA and the course ends with the usual written test.

For me one of the great values of these clinics is the chance to interact with other flight instructors. Sad to say the majority of flight instructors are getting a little long in tooth. Of the 61 of us attending, only four were under the age of 40 years. There were the young guys building flying time with aspirations of becoming airline pilots and there were retired airline pilots teaching for the love of flight. A good percentage are, like me, retired military pilots. I think that the love of aviation is the glue that inspires all of us to teach. And no, I was not the oldest or most experienced of the instructors present. The winner a gentleman that started instructing in 1941 and is still teaching at age 94 years. His recipe for longevity: "I always ate a lot of butter!"

All pilots are interested in accidents and what caused them. It isn't a ghoulish interest at all, we are just trying to discover what went wrong and learn from that pilot's sad luck so as to prevent the same happening to us. Our highways would be much safer if the DOT investigated auto accidents with the same diligence and published the results as they do aircraft accidents. Like most instructors I would be forever sad if one of my students was killed due to my having neglected to teach him/her some essential skill.

"We must learn from the mistakes of other. We can't possibly live long enough to make all the mistakes ourselves!" Sam Levinson

That is the way I saw it.

Dick Trail


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Why must you always find a way in your stories to put a knock on a democrat? How in holy hades is this oil problem the President's fault?

btw, in one of my 'Nam tours, I sat in a helo waiting for those pilots who were brave enough to go inland, hoping we didn't have to pick them up if they had a too short return trip.

-- Posted by devildoc on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 3:09 PM

You do realize, Dick, if you could break your bad addiction, to take tests, you could probably settle down and drive wherever you wanted to go, like the rest of us, who are afraid of heights. Ha.

Study hard, have fun, sniff the gray air; you know, the kind you don't get to chew on around here. (^8

-- Posted by Navyblue on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 3:43 PM

Just how in the hell are the people at the Bureau supposed to have $10 million in their regular budget to fix problems in that dam, that they didn't even know existed until the dam inspector fell part way into one of the holes that had developed?

The problems at the dam are not a result of poor maintenance, so how would they put that kind of money into a maintenance budget? I'm sure if anyone had those kind of powers to be able to forsee those problems they would not be working for the Bureau. Hell they would be multi-millionaires after winning the powerball every week.

Yea, I didn't vote for HIM either, Dickey Boy, nor did I vote for the other guy either, but I sure don't blame HIM for the current gas prices.

-- Posted by goarmy67 on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 11:50 PM


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Dick Trail
The Way I Saw It