Friday, March 8, 2019

That Damn Dream

It's been a long stretch of days off since I last set the brakes on a 767 at gate E-18 at Houston in July 2014. Hence I thought I might fire Decision Height back up to let my followers know what has been going on.

I've been busier than a retired man ought to be. My time is split among my growing cadre of grandkids, our church, our boat, the travel trailer trips, and of course, the Fightin' Skeeter, my Van's RV-6. Then toss in disaster relief mission trips, home repair/improvement projects, trying to finish up two books and flying a few trips as a Citation jet co-pilot. But first I should tell you about the dreams because they more or less explain the most common question I get these days. "Do you miss it?"

The dreams all share a common thread. United crew scheduling calls, asks me if I’m doing well and offers me a nice four day international trip. They say they have found a small loophole in the FAA’s age 65 retirement rules that would allow me to come back every now and then, at my convenience of course. I tell them I can work it in. But I'm needed right away and so I throw some things into the Travelpro. Next I find myself in one or more of the following scenarios.

  • I am getting off my commuter flight at the airport and I have forgotten my uniform.
  • I am looking at a departure board to find my gate but can’t because I didn’t jot down my assigned flight number.
  • I can't use the destination city to find my gate because I forgot it. 
  • I am at the door to Flight Operations but can’t remember the security code.
  • I am at the flight planning computer in operations but can’t remember the log-in password.
  • I am with a group of pilots at a flight planning table and they're sore that I have come back to hog more flying.
  • I am hurrying along the concourse to my flight but not wearing my pants.
  • I am hopelessly confused where my gate is and the pressure is on to get an “on-time” departure.
  • I never make it to the cockpit.   
Mind you, the dreams are always a preposterous blend of two or more of these calamities.You would think maybe just once I could get in the jet and take off, or at least taxi it. Not happening. Strangely, after these decades since I retired from military flying I have dreams about that too, and in them I am recalled to active duty but never get the satisfaction of getting into a C-141 or an A-7 cockpit. I always just show up at the base and lose my way. This is cruel. But this is retirement.

So, yeah, I do miss it. I miss the sunsets, sunrises, the aurora and the satisfaying feel of the jolt when the wheels plop down after a 10 hour all-nighter. But mostly I miss the fine guys and gals I flew with. I follow them on their Facebook pages. I love the photos they take and the stories they tell. One of them (subject of “The BlueMoment”) frequently takes me to lunch or out fishing and I get all the scoop on what’s cooking at Uncle U’s.

I have a few stories to share with you in the coming weeks. I’ll tell you about “Decision Height,” the book, still in development. (Only about half the material in it comes from this blog. The rest is new.) I’ll tell you about the greatest flight of my life in the RV-6. You’ll hear about my attempt to pass-ride on United and how it became another commuting nightmare with gigantic rations of deja vu. And I’ll tell you the sorrowful story of how I almost lost my life two years ago in a mid-air collision. (The other person did.)

If you are new to Decision Height I encourage you to browse the archives listed on the right sidebar. To keep your experience the best it can be I don't allow ads or clickbait. Please share the link to Decision Height on your other media. The platform will helpful to me in the coming months when Decision Height (the book) is launched.


Proud of Uncle U.
 Click the wings for an eye-wetting story.



Capt. Schmoe said...

Glad to hear things are going well for you. Retirement is a funny thing, since I pulled the pin, I have very similar that you have, except mine usually involves lost or missing safety gear, discovered at the end of a shift or as I am climbing on the engine. Most of my retired friends have similar dreams. Maybe we identify with our professions more than we thought.

On another note, I have discovered the joy of photographing fast movers as they traverse through a canyon near Death Valley. An occasional C-17 or C-130 goes through as well. A total blast. Kind of sad though, F4s, F14s EA6s C141s will never grace the canyon again.

Best wishes.

MarkH said...

Way to go United!

Jan Jansen said...

So glad to see you posting again, Alan! I've enjoyed every one of your columns and have missed seeing new ones. I'll be one of the first in line when your book comes out!

jsterner said...

Glad to see you back Captain, missed ya.

Sheila Terrell said...

I have saved most of the Decision Heights emails and was just thinking of you today! So glad to see your email tonight! God bless and take care of you.

Unknown said...

Al, good to here from you again. keep up the good work. chet

Russell said...

You're back! Awesome. I have been wracking my brain trying to remember the blog name and within 24hrs I got the notification.
I was looking for the 7SW posts as I've just bought an RV6. I was chatting with somebody and mentioned the rocket rod (uh-oh), except I couldn't remember the name and kept calling it a "suicide rod"... mine doesn't have one, just the normal tailwheel.
Photo at
Welcome back!

Russell said...

You're back! Can't believe it's been 5 years. I was wracking my brain trying to remember the blog name and within 24hrs I got the notification. Awesome.
I was looking for the 7SW posts as I've just bought an RV6. I was chatting with somebody and mentioned the rocket rod (uh-oh), except I couldn't remember the name and kept calling it a "suicide rod"... mine doesn't have one, just the normal tailwheel.
Photo at
Welcome back!

lowflybye said...

Glad to see you resurrecting the blog and looking forward to the book. It took you long enough. ;)

Should Fish More said...

My dreams since retirement are remarkably similar; I'm at work in the hospital, and can't find my office, wandering all over. Nice to see you back, I knew I kept the link open for some reason.

Dave W said...

Alan, what a wonderful surprise to see a post from you! I’ve always enjoyed your writing style and interesting stories.... I forget how many years ago it was we met for a beer on one of your layovers in London but it always brings a smile to my face when I recall how warm and friendly you and your crew were to an avgeek fanboy...
I haven’t made it back to the south of USA so please don’t think I was ignoring your invite of a beer on home turf..

Looking forward to more posts..

Dave W

Mike Murphy said...

Always enjoy what you write, Alan! Looking forward to the book! Who's going to play you in the movie?!

Maxey said...

Alan, How ironic to read this post! I had Sandra read it and confessed that I also had similar dreams off and on for years. Mine have always involved the F-4, probably because of the 18 years I spent pushing that airplane around. But the similarities are spooky. Always 100 yards behind the eight ball, missing this or confused about that, can’t figure out what to do next, walking into a flight briefing I’m supposed to lead without a clue of what the mission is about, or can’t find a line-up card or where my gears is. And I too never make it to the jet or find myself airborne. Now, I wonder how common this experience might be among other career flyers. Never heard any of my old buds talk about it before. Well anyway, THANKS for helping me feel like I’m not the Lone Ranger! Maxey