I have always had a magnetic draw towards flight within me since I was young.
you know the feeling, when you’re at a show, and every hit from the bass drum rattles deep from within the inside of your rib cage, resonating through your body.. yeah, that’s the feeling of home.
standing faceless in a crowd, you’re part of something bigger. we could destroy the world. everyone under this roof, we share the same passion. room full of strangers, yet they are my best friends. in the humid, scorching, air we patiently stand and wait in the dim lighting. muffled music in the background. they’re setting up on stage, not much longer now. the energy of the crowd is surging through your veins. you can feel it. your finger tips are electric. clench your fist, they’ve never felt so powerful; invincible. eyes closed, inhale deeply. hold it, exhale. the quickly beating heart, pumping adrenaline like a toxic substance you crave. you can feel it, you can hear it. it spreads to every inch of your being. soundcheck. the bass from the instruments, so loud, so low: you can feel the sound. sound has become tangible. the noise expands in a gaseous state throughout the room and begins to fill it, you can touch it. it’s a tidal wave you see off in the distance, but you don’t run from it. you just stand and stare with your jaw on the floor. it towers over you like a skyscraper, blocking out the sun. in its shadow, you’re no bigger than any other grain of sand on the beach. except it crashes over you.. and soothes you from the inside out. everything and everyone melts.. as the tide washes it away. the stage is empty now, they took the light with them, eyes trying to adjust. the crowd pushes up, and seals all gaps. you never stand so close to strangers anywhere other than here, maybe they’re not strangers anymore. we’re all connected. brace yourself. hold your ground, the static in the air is transmitting the anticipation of a war. this is it. in an instant, it’s deafening. the roar of an entire room as figures emerge on stage. and then.. as quickly as the strike of a snake, the wave, crushes you without warning. don’t swim. stay submerged, and let the music engulf you. welcome home.
12/21/2012 — Doomsday.
We met at Angel City Flyers at Long Beach Airport (KLGB) around 9:00 a.m. which is the earliest I have been flying in quite some time. Ruben was the PIC (pilot in command) that day and did a wonderful job flying. Kyle is an awesome dude who flies out of El Monte (KEMT) and wanted to check out a G1000 equipped DA40.
There is no other way to visit as many cities as we did in such a short amount of time.
In 2.1 hours, I went from: Long Beach, to Victorville airport (KVCV) around the back side of the mountains and over Agua Dulce (L70), Van Nuys airport (KVNY), past the Hollywood sign, around Downtown Los Angeles, El Monte Airport (KEMT), and back to Long Beach for lunch at a nice Thai restaurant, La Lune Palace, on the third floor with an excellent view of the runway (25L). I’ve been going to the airport for almost two years and never knew this place existed! It was nice to be a passenger again, I love being able to relax and observe from a different perspective, and most importantly glue my face to the window to see such a rare view of our home.
Tuesday. November 20, 2012 — I left my job interview to head home and change from my suit before heading to the airport. Spontaneous, and uncertain if time would award its blessing, we made plans to go for a quick flight. It was around 2:30 P.M., and the sun was going to set at 4:45 P.M. With the drive costing one hour, and thirty to forty-five minutes for a preflight inspection and engine run-up, it was going to be close.
The four of us arrived at Long Beach, I grabbed the keys to the airplane, and got to work. There is helicopter parking directly across from where the plane is parked, and it was a good thing I left the plane tied down because during the preflight checks, two helicopters landed causing a miniature typhoon. As helicopters lower to the ground, huge gusts of wind crash into you like an invisible tidal wave.
Once we left the ground far below us, we were moments away from an indescribable, breathtaking view. We climbed and departed the airport towards the Pacific Ocean and headed towards Huntington Beach. The sun was now falling, and sinking into the ocean. It was being extinguished by the salt water. Ungracious in defeat, the sun set the sky ablaze burning vivid orange and pink hues into the blue canvas. Making its last move before its slumber, it made its presence known to us all, as if to make sure it was not forgotten. The sky and clouds were stained with warmth. The scene radiated all the way from the heavens straight to your pupils, and nothing but appreciation could be felt. Slowly, the city stars began to emerge preparing for the dark, and the sea of shining lights grew as we surfed above.
The only way to improve a sunset, is to join it in sky.
Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force. I do not know many people in the Military, besides lost-contact-friends from high school. They are friends I haven’t really spoken with or hung out since we graduated. I’ll often encounter other people who have served in the military at school now. Apparently, college requires one unit of physical education. Not interested in sports, I chose golf since I had a semi-interest (and don’t have to run).
It was a sunny day at Brea golf course, and were nearing the end of another game. It was the type of day where light drops of sweat emerge atop your forehead, until a beautiful breeze blows cooling the moisture. There was many interesting people in the class, but one guy in his late 20′s was an ex-marine (if I recall), with a story that no one could compete.
It was the last day of class, and we were standing on the green of the ninth hole with our putters in hand. John, I believe his name was, played golf causally but did pretty well, despite an injury in his hand he received while he was overseas. He wore a necklace, and attached at the bottom was a bullet. Earlier in the semester he told us about it, and I wish I could quote this surreal story exactly, but unfortunately I heard it roughly a year ago. He was out with his squad/team and they were crossing some type of water, it may have been a river or stream I think. They had to hop across some rocks, and he was shot. “There was a sniper. He shot me in my shoulder in midair, but he was probably aiming for my head.” I remember him describing to a small group of the class in awe. His life only inches from being ended sounds more of a tagline from a movie than a non-fictitious event. This piercing piece of metal on the string around his neck, was once embedded in his flesh.
Everyone was excited. We were a few putts away from being done with the semester. While waiting on the green for our turns, I walked over to John and figured I’d ask him a question while I had the opportunity. “This might be a stupid question, but do you think your experience would help you in paintball?” I felt it was valid considering he’s shot real guns, knows how to aim, and surely knows how to take cover and hide, among other things. I imagined him using his skill-set, dominating the field with the precision of an action star. He paused as his mind actually processed the question.
“Probably a little bit, but it’s completely different since it’s only a game. No one is afraid to die.“
Tags: bandoftheweek, botw, lyrics, music
Band Of The Week
I was buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, alone and unceremoniously
…Buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, when life was taken from me [full lyrics]
Disconnect and disassociate yourself from everything and everyone you know.
Just let go. Go. Don’t look back, and see where it takes you. After a year has passed, you might feel good enough to come home, or there’s the excitement that you may leave and just stay, and never come home again, either way, you’ll be glad you did it. Having left and gone and being able to decide for yourself after you’ve done your time.
They say that time heals all wounds, well this is a good way to spend that time, what better way to distract yourself from sadness than to further complicate your crisis to the point where it threatens your own survival? Combining it with a total mind-fuck of other factors, allowing you to erase your memory, deprogram yourself, and rebuild somewhere in the abyss.
Surrendering all control and familiarity, boldly going into the unknown, committing to this forced and involuntary deportation from your own home. You know you have to go, your life depends on it.
Answer the question, “Can you get here in 10 days?” “Yes I can!”
It’s time to cross the ocean… and dive, into exile! [full lyrics]
August 19 – 24, 2012
1. Yes, I made it back alive.
2. It wasn’t scary (besides the possible threat of stingrays and whatever that squishy thing I stepped on in the water was).
3. I did not get kidnapped by drug cartels and I was not held for millions of dollar/taco ransom.
4. I didn’t get pulled over or have to bribe any police/federales/chupacabras.
Those seem to be everyone’s concerns, including mine before we left. Not to say none of the scary stories are true, but thankfully we had no trouble at all. I’d image most problems arise in Tijuana anyways, where there is a much larger number people, not on a quiet beach. Technically it was my second time in Mexico, but the first one was for a wedding. This was a completely different experience. Not speaking a word of Spanish, other than the menu of Taco Bell, makes for a quite interesting trip.
Our first taste was going through the border. My uncle got pulled into the inspection area as predicted because of all the luggage on the roof rack and he told us to follow him. A lady came up to the car and started speaking Spanish. There’s always that awkward moment when both parties blankly go, “uhhh.. how do we communicate?” Communication is something that is expected and taken for granted. How often do you encounter someone you can’t talk to, at all? Finally I found a hand gesture she understood. I pointed at their car, back at me, back at their car, and at me which allowed her to blurt out, “..together!” It’s interesting how instantaneous the changes are once you pass the border. It is such a fine line dividing two separate worlds. We drove roughly 70-100 miles and went through 3 toll roads about $2.20 each.
The first real hit was when we stopped at Walmart. How nice, something familiar from Amerika! ..not really. You know the feeling when something is the same, but different? The first thing you notice is everything is incredibly expensive. My cousin, Tasha, bought a soccer ball for $94! …in pesos. That comes out to about eight bucks (one U.S. dollar is about 13 pesos, the rest of this will be in USD). It’s strange to see such high numbers on prices. Even though you know it’s a different currency it’s just visually different than what you’ve seen every single day of your life. You also see all the same brands you’re familiar with and use; however, the packaging isn’t in English! The reason we stopped was because my cousin needed a swimsuit, but we weren’t finding any. After awhile we realized the department signs had English on the bottom, which didn’t help much, but we came to the conclusion they didn’t have them since the Summer season is coming to a close. It felt odd we couldn’t just ask a store associate for assistance. Strange feeling not to be able to ask for help when you need it.
We eventually made it to the house which was less than 200 yards from the ocean. You could walk to the water in less than a minute. The beach made the sand at Huntington Beach feel like sandpaper. It was so fine you were walking in flour. The water, it wasn’t water from the ocean. Clearly someone’s warm bathwater must have overflowed into it. If it wasn’t for the salt you could comfortably bathe in it. I’m used to beaches having frigid water where I take my foot out of it as quickly as I put it in. It was very clear too! In the shallow you could see the ground and all the shells.
Later in the trip we went to La Bufadora. Here, everyone spoke English. It’s two attractions were shopping and The Blowhole. “The Blowhole is an amazing natural marine geyser that is capable of shooting water well over 60 feet in the air. La Bufadora is considered to be the second largest marine geyser in the world.” The shopping consisted of a very long row of little “stores” that most carried a lot of the same. They were fun to look at because it’s not a shopping experience you’re used to. There are no set prices. When you ask how much an item costs, you’ll received some absurd value, for example $30 for a shirt. You’re not going to spend that much so when you say no, show disinterest, or walk away, magically the item has become discounted 50% as they blurt out, “okay $15!” Even then you can most likely haggle and get the item down to $6-12. When we first arrived I felt a little awkward and intimated to do this. It also feels like you’re insulting them by offering less. After watching a few transactions occur you get a feel for this standard procedure, and realize they do this everyday. It wasn’t that difficult and they actually do most of the work for you. Once interest is shown, you’re bombarded with offers. After a few tries it becomes surprisingly fun. I bought a “$10″ hacky sack for $3. As you walk down they all try to get you to look at their store, and a common gimmick you’d hear was, “99% off,” or, “almost free!” Towards the end you could even take your picture with a baby tiger cub for a $20 donation to a wildlife foundation. Did I mention you get to hold it?
On the drive to Mexico Tasha told me about a guy who flies an ultralight and lands on the beach directly in front of the house. The first day we arrived I got to witness this. I have no idea what beaches in California that would allow this! I don’t fly them so I don’t know their rules but you definitely wouldn’t be able to with people on the beach, I’d assume. He flew by and we waved at each other. He landed and signaled for us to walk over. He spoke some English, I told him I was a pilot, and he turned out to be a nice guy. After days of thought, I knew I would regret not taking the opportunity to go for a ride. The weather turned cloudy and overcast so he wasn’t flying for a few days. I told myself if he was there on the last day I would go. Sure enough he flew overhead towards the beach while we were fishing on the pier. It’s different than what I’m used to that’s for sure. I like to describe it as a flying chair. You’re just sitting there with nothing around you. It was a great experience and wouldn’t be something I’d mind learning how to do.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to purchase as many fireworks as I wanted, but I did get a bag of m80s and roman candles we lit on the beach. We got to do some other cool things like have a bonfire right on the beach itself (no pit), surf fishing, flew my kite, observe sea creatures (hermit crabs, shells, sand dollars, and starfish), and many other things. At one point we visited a Costco which had the exact same layout as the one in La Habra!
Overall is was a great trip and would like to thank my uncle, aunt, and cousins for the invitation and allowing me to go! It was very kind and generous!
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Tags: bandoftheweek, botw, lyrics, music
Band Of The Week
You know that feeling of fear and desperation in the pit of your stomach making you nauseous.
Excitement, apprehension. You wish you could lose it all.
Hello my good old friend. Your hand pulls me back from that mire.
Will I look back and stare, and wonder if she is way back there?
And while we thought that we were learning how to live
We have been learning how to die
I should have known we will be legends
It has been quite some time since I’ve posted so I wanted to write an update. I’ve been on to some bigger and better things since then!
-After my first solo I stared dual-cross country (x/c) flights with my Instructor (2011)
Our first flight, in which it was my first time leaving Long Beach airspace (besides the practice area, and Torrance now that I think about it) was to Banning airport. The feeling of freedom was surreal. Headed east as the airplane climbed, it was so calm compared to being in the traffic pattern with radio chatter every few seconds and making calls every few minutes. I brought my DSLR camera but little did I know I would be much to preoccupied to take any pictures. During the flight it was interesting to compare landmarks of the terminal area chart to figure out where we were. I was also getting the feeling of the distances represented by the chart. It was my first time navigating by Pilotage and Dead Reckoning (the main two ways of VFR navigation). Since it was my first x/c we didn’t grab Flight Following (which I didn’t really know about at the time anyways. F0r those of you who don’t know, to keep it simple, it’s basically a service where they’ll watch you on radar and give you alerts about nearby traffic. You could also transition through different airspace with it). It was peaceful since we didn’t have to make any calls and just monitored the emergency frequency 121.5. We successfully navigated to Banning and slipped through the gaps of airspace between John Wayne, Ontario, and March Air Reserve Base. This was the third airport I’ve landed at I believe and my first non-towered airport! It was small, quiet, and empty, but that did not make it any less of a huge accomplishment! Pulling up to the fuel, the single guy working there came outside and added some for us. We went inside the “lounge” and discussed some things about the trip, return trip, and inquired about the VOR since I was playing with “VOR simulators” on my own. The airport was basically in the middle of a desert which is always kind of a cool environment. I don’t remember too many of the details on the way back, but I think we got flight following and navigated to the Seal Beach VOR. Overall it was a successful trip!
My Second x/c we went to Carlsbad! I LOVE that airport. It is gorgeous. While you’re on final, and landing on the runway, you get a view of the ocean. During this flight I opened my flight plan in the air and picked up flight following after that. Yes, notice how it’s getting more complex? That’s how it felt at the time anyhow, but feels all so easy now. After that we flew to Ramona airport and the girl who was in the control tower was quite annoying haha. Overall it was another great flight.
The last dual x/c I did was to Agua Dulce (L70) which we were originally going to visit on the first flight but didn’t venture over there due to thunderstorms. To get there, we went through the LAX Special Flight Rules area and we got to fly directly above LAX! I was excited to fly here because I recently watched a TV show called, “101 ways to leave a game show” and they filmed there! A truck drove down the runway where contestants’ chairs flipped them head over heels over the edge if they answered the question wrong. We also think we saw the location where they filmed the show “Wipeout” while enroute. After that it was off to Santa Paula. A small airport with a decent amount of traffic flying. If I recall I saw a cool biplane doing a forward slip on final. Overall this flight was a bit overwhelming, it went well, but it was a lot to take in!
-Next came the SOLO cross-countries!
A cross-country flight is a flight further than 50 nautical miles, which is 57.539 statute miles.
My first x/c was to Carlsbad (KCRQ) and Ramona (KRNM). It was a weird combination of nerve-wracking-confidence. I knew I could do it, but at the same time it was my very first time flying away alone from the airspace I’ve spent so much time in. I feel I would have been extremely relaxed and comfortable if it wasn’t for the marine layer that was rolling in.. There was no water, only a sea of white clouds, but it was perfectly divided over the beach which made the land clear. I needed it to stay that way, but would it? I got out of Carlsbad, and just in time too. They approved an early crosswind to avoid the clouds. I flew to Ramona, landed, taxi’d to Pacific Executive, and stepped out. I didn’t need it, but for the experience I had them top off the fuel. I took a business card. It was my souvenir and “proof” to myself I actually did it. I still have that card. Finally the excitement set in. I flew myself to two different airports successfully. It wasn’t over yet since I still had to fly back. I headed back to the coast and by this time half of the runway at Carlsbad was covered in clouds. Thankfully Long Beach airport was still clear and I made it back! If it wasn’t I would have had to divert to Fullerton most likely. It was stressful but so much fun at the same time. What a milestone and a dream come true. Solo flights are the ultimate test, and proof you are actually capable and doing what you’ve been practicing. The second x/c I flew to Victorville which was a cool flight since I got to go over San Bernadino an the 15 freeway which I take when I snowboard at Mt. High. The airport was a ghost town! There was no traffic. They didn’t even have me contact ground. I didn’t get out this time, but I turned around on the same taxiway I got off the runway on and departed!
-I passed my FAA Written test for Single Engine Airplane with 98% I believe, only missed two. (2011).
-Passed Oral exam with FAA examiner
-PASSED CHECKRIDE DECEMBER 2011!
However, that’s a story for a different time. It was a very tough, trying, rewarding, and personal, experience. There was some bumps and snags along the way, but I returned with my feet on the ground victorious. I learned some valuable lessons that I took away from it. Always learning.
Nine months. I made it. I’ve always known this was something that I had to do, and I did it.
I remember calling the flight school and leaving a voicemail. I remember the friendly voicemail I received back from my instructor. I remember going to the airport for the first time, not knowing exactly where to go, and meeting my instructor for the first time. Hard work at the moment, wonderful memories forever.
Another interesting fact is most people suggest to speak with many different instructors/schools to find the best match for yourself. Cody was the one and only instructor I spoke with. I went down for a demo flight and signed up that day. I do not regret this decision. I could not be happier with the school and instructor I chose, and if I had to do it all over I would make the same call. He was extremely professional and always SAFE. Safety and smarts were the most important thing to him, and those are traits I am happy to have been taught. I’d like to thank Josh K. for referring me to Aces High, because he learned there and brought them to my awareness when I asked for suggestions.
noun: 1. the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.