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Flying Over the Holiday Season

 (DavidRaboin)

An airline pilot walking through the cold winter rain while looking for his hotel shuttle at O’hare Airport, Chicago.

Back at my regional airline I flew with a wily old bachelor captain named Dale. Every year, Dale would use all four weeks of his annual vacation allotment in December. He didn’t have a family. He wasn’t trying to be home for the Holidays. I asked him once, “Dale, why do you take all you’re time off in December?”

“December is when everything bad happens,” he said, “In December, the seasons are changing and you get those days-long storms with snow, rain, and sleet. And, all that weather happens when the airports are packed with holiday travels, families that travel only once every couple of years, they’re nervous, and they don’t know what they are doing. I don’t need that. I take December off and come back in January when the dry arctic air has set in, things dry out, and only professional travels come out to the airport.”

I think of Dale every year as I slog through the holiday season. In my career, I’ve never had the seniority to get time off in December.  In fact, it’s the opposite, with the airline’s heavy holiday schedule, I’m usually out working more in December that any other month. This year I was lucky and got Christmas Day off so I was home to see the kids open their presents on Christmas morning, but other than that one pleasant day, I’ve been out fighting the crowds and the weather for the past few weeks.

The other day, while lying on my hotel bed, lost in a haze of holiday flying, and mindlessly scrolling my Facebook feed, I came across this video of Hulk Hogan and Randy the Macho Man Savage. My grinchy spirit soared as I watched those coked-up, steroid-clowns steal 1960s hippy-acid culture and spin it into 1980s commercial gold. And, I was also a little jealous too. Oh, to shed my uniform and wear a different persona… This blog, and my writing, would be a lot more fun if it was done under an anonymous pen-name. I need a metaphorical Macho Man Savage bandanna. If I could just shed the responsible airline-pilot-dad bit…

Steam rises from a vendor's standing n Chinatown, Flushing, New York City (DavidRaboin)

A busy market on a cold winter night in Flushing, New York… I took this photo on my walk back from dinner during a LaGuardia overnight. We stay in Chinatown. 

Flight crews take notice of the short winter days and long nights. In winter, our work days usually begin before dawn and finish after sunset. Often, eating dinner means taking a cold, dark walk in an unfamiliar city. I take my camera and practice night street photography.

 (DavidRaboin)

I love flying into Palm Springs. To stay below LAX traffic , ATC makes us descend early and then level off just above the San Bernardino Mountains. Yesterday, the clouds split open and we saw a fresh batch of snow on the mountain tops. In the distance, you can see the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree National Park.

Flying during the holidays isn’t all hardship and gloom. The low winter sun makes great light for aerial photography and snow adds some pop to the mountain tops.

a-nice-poster

Meeting De Aviation, Nice, France… Poster by Charles-Léonce Brossé… 

Many years ago, I had this poster hanging in my apartment. The mustachioed french aviator was my inspiration, my hoped for alter-ego who could shower flowers and happiness on an exotic coast. That’s what I hope my Instagram feed is, roses falling from the sky.

 (DavidRaboin)

San Francisco Bay, downtown San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, Oakland, and in the far distance my backyard mountain: Mount Diablo… After a front moves through clear arctic air means great visibility. If you look hard, you can make out the snow packed peaks of the Sierras along the horizon. 

Maybe if I had a selfie stick and a suitably wide-angle lens, I could make a picture of myself above San Francisco that is similar to that poster of the pilot over Nice? I’m kidding of course, but I admit that an interesting foreground subject makes a landscape image come to life. That old poster has more spark than this highly detailed photo.

The long ride across the prairie to Denver International Airport… The beginning of a long day of delays

We need all the rain and snow we can get in California. However, I wish this drought could be broken on days when I’m not scheduled to fly multiple legs through San Francisco. This winter we’ve seen an endless train of storms and rainy days in NorCal. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to perfect SFO weather delay speech, “Folks, Imagine if they closed several lanes on the Bay Bridge during rush hour, that’s what it’s like at SFO airport now. The wind is out of the south which means they can only use two of their four runways. It’s like they closed half of their available lanes. Now, air traffic traveling to SFO is backed-up throughout the country. Air Traffic control issued us a wheels up time of…”

 (DavidRaboin)

Speaking of the California drought, check out all that snow on Mount Shasta. That should help top off some of our reservoirs as it melts off this spring and summer. 

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at photos4u2c.com Support this site by using one of my links to Amazon.com. Thanks!

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