Curmudgeon Central

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Location: Grand Junction, Colorado, United States

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Un-Written Rule

The original Rules For Operation Of Aircraft contained 25 simple, silly maybe, but simple rules. Rob's Rule #1: DO NOT TAKE THE BOSS'S NEPHEW FLYING.

I was flight planning a trip from SPS to Laurel Mississippi to take some much need oil well parts to a company doing off shore stuff. I was looking forward to the trip. I was going to be a long, night cross country in beautiful weather. I was flying a rugged Piper PA32 (Cherokee 6) Then the boss walked in with his nephew. Seems that his nephew had "an interest" in flying and would like to go with me. What could I say...

I looked at this guy and it was all I could do to keep from groaning out loud. He had on slacks, an oxford shirt (with button down collar) a cardigan type sweater and (I kid you not) "penny loafers". Central casting's "Joe College" of the 60's.
When I flew a trip like this I usually wore Levi's, Boots (sometimes moccasins) a western shirt and a denim jacket. His cloths aren't what made me groan. It was the PIPE!
Anyway. I did the pre flight walk around with him practically stepping on my heels. We climbed aboard and cranked her up. Taxi, run up, take off and climb out were normal. In fact the entire trip to Mississippi was un eventful. I mean REALLY un eventful. People who know me know that I don't talk a lot. This academia reject made me sound like a real chatter box. Probably 4 words, 4 syllables, the entire trip. I was obvious to me that his interest in flying did not include airplanes. He just sat there, puffing on his pipe and drinking my coffee. MY COFFEE. We got to Laurel and I was sure glad there was somebody to meet me and help me unload. Joe college just walked away and puffed on his pipe and stared at god knows what. I had to really yell at him to get his attention to let him know it was time to go. (I sometimes wonder why I tried so hard to get his attention)
On the way back I decided to land at Shreveport to fuel up and refill my thermos. I love coffee. I drink coffee a lot. Coffee is my friend.

Alarm bells missed.

During the climb out from Shreveport the nimrod in the right seat tapped his pipe into the teeny tiny ash tray thoughtfully provided by Piper. I saw him do it but was involved in getting out of SHV traffic and contacting approach control for flight following. I did hear him mutter "oops" but it went right by be at the time.
5 or 10 minutes out my eyes started to burn and the cockpit started to fill up with smoke. Joe Cool next to me looked down at his feet and screamed like a girl, He then went into his hero mode, grabbed my coffee, MY COFFEE, and dumped the entire contents onto the smoldering carpet. All of my fresh coffee. Dumped onto a smoldering carpet right next to the fire extinguisher.
The rest of the trip was miserable. The whole inside of the airplane smelled like wet, burned carpet. Every time he moved his feet I could hear the carpet squish. I didn't have a single sip of that fresh Louisiana coffee. Louisiana Coffee is wonderful to drink, but it stinks to high heaven when dumped onto smoldering carpet.
When we got back to SPS and parked the brainless wonder, college reject who screams like a girl, just walked off, got into his car (Ford Sunbeam) and motored off without so much as a thank you. Just as well.
The next day the boss asked me how it went. I didn't say a word. I took him out to the old Cherokee 6 and showed him the coffee soaked burn spot on the carpet. Since it was on the right side of the aircraft I didn't need to explain.
I never saw "nephew" again.