Celebrating 2000 hours!

This week I hit a milestone 2,000 hours. It's not a lot, especially considering my first flight was February 16th, 2005. But I think all pilots and historians do this kind of thing, taking nice round numbers as an opportunity to celebrate and commemorate something, and to reflect on the significance of what has come before.

Of course there are the particulars: roughly equal parts multiengine and single engine; the plane I owned, the planes I have rented, and planes that Uncle Sam has entrusted to me; PPL checkride to ATP checkride and every Air Force checkride in between; 12 countries, two type ratings, and a host of interesting experiences throughout, including a night in the Herky Hilton.

As I think back on 14 years of flying, my greatest impression of these hours is that nearly all of them are exceptionally hard-fought. From paying for the first three hundred to lots of formation in the next 1,000 to instruction for nearly all of the last 700, it's been a hard slog. The "easiest" hours were gained on sorties I can count almost exclusively on my fingers and toes, with a couple of the all-night orbit missions in the Herk while deployed and some oceanic trips from Japan to various Pacific islands. Even on those I was listening to the crackling HF radios and making position reports. Okay, not very hard but still nothing like having SELCAL or CPDLC.

Indeed, being a Herk pilot has never been a great way to pile on the hours (and neither is being in the Air Force, for that matter), what with lots of .9 sorties out-and-back while deployed and 4.0 local trainers once, maybe twice a week at home. Of course, my meandering path through a decade in the Air Force didn't help either, with a year and a half in grad school and not flying, and afterward only getting a 1.5 two or three times a week. I don't regret the journey one bit but there certainly were times along the way when I daydreamed about taking a jet with a qualified crew someplace new and flying an approach to minimums. After all these years, I have realized that I don't need thrills per se, merely a destination and some fun here and there.

Even now that I fly 3-4 times a week, still it doesn't feel like I'm flying too much. Suffice to say there has never been a time where I have felt like I have been flying too much. As is probably the case for a junkie of any variety, I come down from my latest fix and immediately think "how soon can I do that again?

Here's to the next 2,000 hours, and with any luck, to the next 20,000 also!


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