Where is Mark today? – Chicago
Drumroll please… Chicago! Wait I meant sigh, Chicago… The last couple of days have been a whirlwind. Yesterday we departed HWD for DLS, an airport that proved to be one of the most challenging approaches I have done in a jet in recent memory. The weather was marginal, but the gusty wind conditions only allowed us to use runway 31. The area is gorgeous, surrounded by mountainous terrain, with Mt. Hood in the not too distant background. The airport is tucked into a gorge, with the approach to 31 being right over the river. Wind sheer of about plus and minus 10 knots, plus the sink we experienced because of the river put the crew in the cockpit to work. Oh and I almost forgot to mention the knoll in the way of the approach path that you have to sidestep if you don’t want to hit it, good times!
From DLS we took a nice couple all the way to SUN (49 minute flight). The weather was gorgeous east of Oregon; we had trouble finding any clouds at all. DLS was cold, about 30 degrees when we were there. SUN was much colder at 19 degrees. The polar vortex that everyone is talking about seems to be here. From Sun Valley, we were supposed to reposition to SNA for a trip this morning. Dispatch threw us for a loop and had us reposition to PWK for a trip to PSP, which are very far apart despite both starting with the letter P.
The flight from SUN to PWK was about 3 hours and was relatively nice. Weather was really mild across the country. Much of the middle part of the country was covered in snow, which provided some gorgeous scenery against the blue-sky backdrop at 40,000 feet. The only weather we encountered was on the descent into PWK. For those who haven’t been into any Chicago area airports, it can be a tad challenging. I have only flown into ORD and MDW; this was my first time landing in PWK. We were not given a STAR for our arrival so ATC issued multiple altitude step-downs at various distances from fixes along our route. This is mostly to keep us away from class bravo traffic from the bigger airports nearby. The landing is pretty fun as you shoot the ILS 16 circle to 32. They want you very tight so for an aerobatic-minded pilot like myself, it was fun to maneuver a tight pattern. Temperature was about 25 degrees with light snow.
Perhaps the biggest frustration I face as a charter pilot is how to pack my suitcase. I am a California guy, so flip-flops live in my suitcase year round. I don’t even own real winter clothing. Our itinerary has changed maybe 6 times within the last few hours. Over the next few days we will be going to some really cold locations. We are talking like, minus 10 degrees. What the What!? Needless to say I probably won’t be leaving the hotel room other than to eat food. Our itinerary for the next three days is PWK PSP VNY IND BJI RIL ASE LAX OAK HWD. Tired yet?
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