Casper, Wyoming

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One of the downsides (though maybe some will consider at an upside, so maybe I’ll just refer to it as a side) of flying the Dash is that we’ve only got a few destinations. I haven’t even really managed to visit half of them, but I’ve spent a lot of time in Casper, Wyoming lately.

As I showered this morning, I thought that the scars in the bathtub seemed awfully familiar, but I was reasonably sure I hadn’t been in this hotel room before. This was based on the fact that this room has a balcony, and I was sure I’d have noticed if it had a balcony. The hotel views project reveals that although I photographed the balcony, I still somehow missed it. In my defense, it was a very short overnight, and we left early in the morning.

I flew us in last night. The autopilot was broken, so I had to hand fly the whole way. I didn’t really mind since I like remembering that I’m actually a pilot. There was some turbulence, so level flight required a bit of work, but the Dash is much easier to hand fly than the jet. My only complaint is that the yoke is positioned strangely–it’s very high up. It’s impossible to grip it where the hand grips are and rest your elbows on the handrest, unless I move my seat so high that my head is touching the ceiling and the glare shield blocks the top instruments. So I was instead holding the yoke down at the bottom with my right index finger and thumb, and seem to have injured those two digits in some strange way. Yes, I’m a pilot, and I hurt my finger flying.

More interestingly, the weather in Casper was overcast at about 1,000 feet, which meant flying an ILS, with no autopilot. This is something we just don’t do in the airlines, because it’s much safer to let the autopilot fly the approach. So, despite having hand-flown a zillion ILS approaches in the sim, this was my first one in an airplane, in the clouds. It required a fair amount of concentration but wasn’t difficult. I did have a flight director, after all. I could hear my sim instructor’s voice, “Stay in the flight director!”

We broke out at 1,000 feet above the ground like the weather said we would. I floated down the runway quite a bit farther than I might have liked, but it’s a very long runway, and I really only needed about 1/8th of it in the Dash, so I elected to keep floating in order to get a smooth touchdown. I wasn’t happy about it, but passenger comfort is important, and we had lots of runway. And the touchdown was nice and smooth, though the wet runway probably helped out.

I collected my free Shiner Bock from the hotel bar (Shiner on tap, in Wyoming even), and headed to bed. It was still raining when I went to sleep.

I woke up this morning and looked outside to see if it was still raining. It was still cloudy, but there were about 4 inches of snow on the ground, which was melting and turning to slush. I made it downstairs in time to collect my free breakfast from the hotel, which unlike most hotel breakfasts, turned out to be really decent. I had a totally acceptable breakfast burrito. My captain had steak and eggs, and the steak looked wonderful. I might get that next time.

Jackson Hole tonight, but we don’t get in until 9pm and leave pretty early in the morning, so I don’t get to have much fun, or get a breakfast burrito from D.O.G. Sad because the Jackson Hole overnights are apparently seasonal, and it doesn’t look like I’m doing any next month. Soon my snow-covered Rockies will be dirt-covered and I’m a bit worried about how hot the Dash will be. That’s okay, winter be back, and with any luck I’ll still be flying it in Denver next year. In the meantime I’ll try to stay cool and dodge the thunderstorms.

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