In about 650 hours of flying — most of it in my Warrior — I’ve seen and done just about everything I can see and do at this level and live to tell about it. I’ve flown into busy international airports and into short gravel and grass strips; I’ve fired back rapid responses to NY approach, flown over big cities day and night, carried my family most of the length of the seaway from Lake Superior to Gaspe (and beyond to Cape Breton), bounced around in severe turbulence over the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont (not fun), spent hours fighting headwinds that made me feel like I was moving backwards, logged many hours of actual IMC (both benign and nail biting), successfully flown an ILS approach where I saw nothing but a few approach lights at DH, seen other planes come way too close, blundered into a thunderstorm cloud (do not repeat), been forced down to an unplanned airport landing in marginal VFR turning to IMC (before I had my instrument rating), experienced icing first hand, been praised and tongue-lashed by controllers (sometimes by the same one), repaired or replaced a huge part of my plane, crouched in the ice and snow out on a field changing a landing light in the dark at -25 degC gripping the screwdriver with numb fingers, and watched the beauty of the light and dark world rolling beneath the plane in a long, post-midnight cross-country flight.
So now what? The plane is still a useful tool, especially for business and family trips, and I do enjoy the challenge and surprises of Hope Air flights, but there’s nothing exciting about pushing the throttle forward and leaving the ground any more — it feels almost exactly the same as backing the minivan out of the driveway. Here are some of my options:
- learn to fly a taildragger (but once I’ve learned, there’s none that I can fly)
- learn to fly a multiengine plane and get my multi-IFR (ditto)
- learn to fly a floatplane (ditto)
- learn to fly a helicopter (ditto)
- sell my Warrior and buy a share with some partners in a high performance plane like a Saratoga (and pay a lot more for gas)
- upgrade to a commercial license (just for the challenge — I don’t plan to leave my day job)
I know I don’t want to instruct — I used to be a university professor, and while I loved teaching, I don’t want to go back. Any suggestions? What have other people done? After my kids leave for university in a few years, I could spend a couple of months flying around the U.S. and Canada coast to coast, but that’s not practical with the demands of caring for kids in high school and middle school.