Monday, March 31, 2014

Landing on a frozen lake

I've always called Minnesota "the land of 10,000 emergency runways" in the winter. It always seemed so simple: Lose an engine, just put it down on a frozen lake.

Then, in February, my wife and I went up to Backus, MN., for a weekend of cross country skiing and we stayed at a cabin by a frozen lake, so I decided to go take a look. And that's the last time I'll consider landing on a frozen lake. There were drifts hip-deep and it was clearly no place for a pilot to want to be.

Did I say the last time I'll consider landing on a frozen lake? I take that back. This recently posted video from Alton Bay, NH might be the lone exception.

Lunch at Alton Bay, NH from j3adventures on Vimeo.

Friday, March 7, 2014

A medical setback

I haven't posted much about the fight against Meniere's Disease and my attempt to get my FAA medical back so I can fly as pilot in command again because there hasn't been much to tell. After the gentamicin treatment in December and the expected "attack" five days, everything has been just fine. There've been no dizzy spells and the only "discomfort" is the fact I'm deaf in one ear and there's a constant loud sound of my heart pushing blood. My neurotologist says this is the brain doing its thing; it is reacting to the absence of sound in the ear. Stupid brain.

The plane hasn't flown much because of the horrible winter weather. The few days when it's been above freezing (and we've had 50 days this winter of below zero temperatures) only serves to soften up things to make even worse ice when it refreezes.

I had planned to have a big followup round of tests in May to present to the FAA by June, figuring six months is about the usual time the FAA likes to have people be symptom free. But apparently, the FAA has moved the goalposts.

According to a contact at the FAA who's been good enough to walk me through this, the FAA now wants a year of symptom-free life.

"There are several reasons for this," he wrote, "First is to make sure that it is really Meniere's and that the Airman is being controlled with the interventions being used. Sometimes it takes months to establish control with multiple interventions which can include surgery. It also takes time to get through all the Rehab and get fully compensated vestibularly. I am working with HQ to see if they will shorten it to 6 months which I think is adequate to assess whether a therapy is working or not."

A year puts me past the entire 2014 flying season, of course, and judging by this year's weather, doesn't put me back in the air until the spring of 2015.

It's on odd thing to be sitting here during Minnesota's endless winter of 2014, hoping the one in 2015 will hurry up and get here.
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