Unemployed?!?

This is such a wierd feeling.  Yesterday was my last day at Ameriflight.  So for two whole days I am unemployed.  In a lot of ways, I grew up while working for this company.  Not long after I first started, Kurt (My boss when I first moved to Salt Lake) sat me down in his office and told me that I wasn’t going to be the same person after working there for a while.  I don’t know why he said that.  Maybe it was because I was just twenty years old and had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I am really going to miss about 96% of the people I worked with there.  In the three quarters of a decade that I’ve worked there, I’ve met some very interesting people and made some life-long friends.  And I’ve lost some friends.  I don’t know why that comes to the front of my mind when I look back at the years working for this company.  I guess those are the things that get comfortably buried under years of routine. 

Kurt was a big man.  Not obese, just big.  Maybe he should have been a lumberjack.  I remember when he met my parents when they were dropping me off at the Burbank airport.  He had a fresh scar on his forehead that he got from walking into the back of a propeller.  The most vivid memory I have of him was from an after-company-christmas-party-party.  By the time I got there, he had found a bottle of absinthe and was dancing around the room with a pink feather boa.  A shocking image.  Kurt was killed in a hospital after checking in for neck pain and being given a lethal dose of pain killers. 

Fred got to the Salt Lake base a few months before I did.  He was kind of like everyone’s uncle at the base and would say some really funny things just out of the blue.  He had a purple heart and a bronze star that he earned in Vietnam as a medic, though he never said much about it.  He slipped on ice and broke his shoulder and ended up going to fly for another company when his shoulder had healed.  I remember talking to him that cold morning on the UPS ramp just a few hours before his plane crashed near Hailey, Idaho. 

Perry was one of the breakfast regulars at the Wagon Wheel in Saint George.  A half dozen of us from different companies would fly in every morning and meet up and tell flying stories-usually greatly exaggerated and acted out with hand motions- over a not so healthy meal of eggs, biscuits and gravy, hash browns, toast and coffee that cost only about 3 bucks.  One morning, Perry didn’t show up.  We waited for him for a while, and then decided to head to the “wheel” without him.  Later, we found out that he had been talked into flying the night before after being up all day and had crashed into mountains in Colorado.  Nobody could tell for sure, but most figured that he had fallen asleep.

Carl was one of the most skilled pilots that came through training in Burbank while I was working there.  A couple of years before that, I was up in Billings temporarily and I remember him passing out cigars to everyone the day after his first child was born.  When he was down for 1900 training a couple of years later, he told me how nice it was to get a full night’s sleep since he hadn’t been sleeping much since his wife gave birth to twins (I guess that’s what happens when you have 3 young kids at home).  I was asleep in a hotel room in Seattle when my phone rang and someone told me that his plane was missing.   I remember the nausea that hit just then.  I remember it coming back as I sat with a few other people in an office listening to the last few words he spoke over the radio as we tried to figure out what happened. 

So maybe Kurt was right.  I barely remember the person I was when I started with AMF.  I’ve grown up (though some may argue that one).  It seems like I’ve lived a lifetime in these seven years.

Anyway, enough looking back for right now.  Time to look forward and pack for Africa.

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4 Responses to “Unemployed?!?”

  1. Smullins Says:

    I was working at Ameriflight when Carl had crashed. It was heartbreaking. He had the best handwritting at Ameriflight. (runsheets) and he never messed up on them either. Best wishes for you on your new job. Congrats!!!

  2. Smullins Says:

    We will miss you too. Katie and I will miss you coming up and chit chatting with us. You were one of the few people that didn’t drive us crazy when you would come up and talk to us.

  3. Dad Says:

    Hi Patrick,
    I didn’t know that you could write so well. Hope all is going ok.
    Dad

  4. Laura Says:

    That’s the bad part of aviation….you stay in the business long enough and you’re bound to have a handful of friends (and regular customers for us) get killed. We had a Lear leave our airport a few years ago and crash at Truckee – that was hard because one of the pilot’s I remember vividly, still to this day I can see his face. He was sitting in my chair at work showing the other pilot the Truckee airport on Google maps. They were so nice. And then the deal with Jack Francis at Carlsbad…it’s the best business and the worst business…but most times it’s great. We’d never have met you without it! 🙂

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