“Real Pilots Don’t Need Runways”

I remember rainy days, that never seemed to end. In a way some never did and just continued raining on into the next day, or even the day after that. Light drizzle, or maybe just enough rain to make you soaking wet yet, simultaneously making you look ridiculous for caring an umbrella. They seem so far away and so long ago.

I have found that rain in my new home country, is an all or nothing proposition. It either doesn’t rain, and then doesn’t rain for days, dare I say weeks. But if you see those big black clouds gather over the Indian Ocean, you feel the need to close every window emanating from the very depths of your being. With the ferocity of rains here, I am not surprised rain never makes it to the desert.
You’d think, growing up in a country as wet as the Netherlands, I would be familiar with rain, but on the rare occasions it rains here, I feel like I’ve never seen it truly rain before. I wonder if winter will bring different types of rain? I don’t get the impression, talking to Emma, that it will. It’s either dry or it rains so hard you are worried the windows will give in.

coats become optional

After my mum moved to France, I occasionally tease her by sending her a YouTube link for a Dutch song, about a lady wondering what the weather was like in The Hague, and the lyrics linger in the back of my head every now and then. I’m amazed at how cold 20ºC feels even after a few weeks of relative warmth, while at home my friends are happy to break the 17ºC barrier (coats become optional!). I even turned the heating on the other day.

But enough about the weather. I once read somewhere that talking about the weather is a typical Dutch phenomenon. Since our weather can change every hour, and is different any given day, making it a safe go-to topic for conversation with both friends, and strangers. Talking about the weather in a place that is hot all summer long, is kind of futile I suppose.

I went into an old school barber shop last week. And got my beard trimmed by a pro for the first time since I started growing it. I suffer a little bit from phantom-beard when stroking it, running out of hair before I run out of stroke, but other than that I’m very pleased with the new shape. And dirt cheap to be honest. Finally another thing to be added to the short list of things actually cheaper here than in Europe.

and a subpoena

When I was granted my Visa, I wrote how happy I was with finally being done with waiting all the time. How foolish that turned out to be. Even now I still can’t shake the feeling of waiting for something. There is plenty to organize for the wedding, and I can think of things to do, so I’m not bored or anything, but there is this part of me that’s still idle, still waiting. But not for long. Hopefully. I know, I know, I’ve said this before, and perhaps I’m wrong, but today the ownership of the appartment will be transferred. And within a day or two the money, that remains after paying back the mortgage, should be on my Dutch bank account. Then it will take another two or three days before it’s on my Australian account, and then it is simply a question of redirecting predetermined amounts of Dollars to certain other accounts, international movers, a website selling computer components, and a subpoena for the guy who forgot to pay me for the appartment the first time it got sold. I told the bailiff to leave him be, while I’m waiting for the money from the apartment, so I’m hoping he’s thinking he got away with it. Time for him to be as unpleasantly surprised as I was.

But, above all, money will be going to various medical locations, who will all be conducting their respective tests on this willing participant. Medical examinations, which should lead to a medical certificate declaring me fit to fly, and then, we convert the remainder of the money into a fulltime theory course, and as many flight hours as possible. Which, won’t be an awful lot considering I’ll be flying a Robinson R44, at roughly $800,-/hour. Commercial certification being possible at 105 hours at the earliest, you can see obtaining a CPL (Commercial Pilot License) is not cheap. At least I can get all the theory out-of-the-way first, then find a job and put everything towards hours in the cockpit. Some of you might wonder, why an R44? Do pilots not normally train in the smaller R22? Yes, they do. Emphasis on >>smaller<< R22.
I don’t get along with small. Being tall, I don’t fit comfortably in an R22, and am frankly to heavy for the maximum safe operational weight per seat. Barely, mind you, but too heavy is too heavy, especially when flying a helicopter.

beautiful Helitacs

I’m actually happy with training in the R44, as opposed to the R22. Sure it’s a bit more expensive, but when I get certified, I’ll have flight hours in a relevant helicopter. Safe for mustering (and training) most companies don’t use the R22 for commercial purposes. So I’m hoping this will increase my changes of landing a job quickly. And then I’ll be working towards getting my butt on those beautiful Helitacs (fire bombers), which in general is a ten-year plan according to Mike from Rotorvation. Which is fine, there will still be bush fires in ten years time, so I’m not in a rush. For now I’m getting familiar with the cockpit of the R44, staring at the cockpit poster above my desk. I can’t remember being this excited to start studying, maybe I’ve simply never been this excited about a course before.

Uploading the feature image I just realised I never told the story of my first helicopter flight, and my first flight actually flying the helicopter myself for a bit. Actually, that’s two stories. I’ll leave those for next time.


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