By lex, on August 17th, 2011
When I retired from the service * a little over three years ago, I didn’t know what I was going to be when I grew up. Over the course of the last three years, I came to the realization that it was not what I had become. I saw men from other companies a few years older than me trying to gut it out to the next contract, and quietly pitied them.
Monday through Friday paid the bills, but my weekend job of puttering around in a 30-year old piston single, introducing people to the world of “air combat” at 110 miles per hour with a whopping 150 horses under the cowl for $25 an hour felt more like “me” than did my paying gig, complete with the
401K 201K. I’d been engaged in a desultory search for something new ever since a funding scare back in February. And I will point out that it is more than just a little scary just how hard it is to find new work in this economy.
I had – as has so often happened in my life – experienced the kindness of strangers, one of whom reached out to me across the ether to offer something entirely new and different. Something I was hopeful I could do. But hope, I reminded myself, is not a strategy. I also had an interview with a local maker of unmanned aerial vehicles for work I knew that I could do, and which I was fairly confident – even the way DoD is trending these days – would offer some sense of security. Their offer came a week after I had accepted the new work.
Which really came out of the blue. An old shipmate and current airline pilot who works for the new company on a part-time basis told me that there was a West Coast opening for a full-time gig flying 70′s era Israeli fighters out of Point Mugu, and would I be interested at all?
I had the interview within the week, the offer less than a week later and gave my two week’s notice 15 days ago. I fly to Newport News today, and spend the next ten days in ground school training. First flights will be in early September, I think. Back here on the West Coast. Blogging may be a little light, but you are of course encouraged to talk amongst yourselves and are reminded of other opportunities to raise new points of discussion.
I will leave with a happy heart, and a sense of being blessed: The new gig did not lack for competitive resumes, and I was fortunate to have a network of those who knew me when. I will also leave with a bit of trepidation: Keeping my medical for the next 16-17 years may require as much luck as it does personal focus, and it’s been a while since I’ve done a night ILS to minimums. I cannot recall ever having done so at 180 knots indicated (although the F-5 crossed the fence at 170 KTs, it has been a while since I have cruised at that speed, far less landed).
But there’s this: I get a chance to directly support the Navy again, an institution that for all its faults I love with all my heart. And I get to fly while doing so.
The flying work will require commuting to Ventura County when there are exercises we support. Working from the home office here in Sandy Eggo when it’s admin time. For a year, anyway. Until the Kat goes off to college, and the Hobbit and I are free to relocate. The house is on the market, what with its echoing, empty rooms. It may even sell.
So yesterday was my last day at work. One of the advantages of having an offer like mine is that there was no resentment. My customer and the officers of my company all nodded their heads and said that, while they’d miss me, they completely understood. Some among my friends were even a little envious, in a friendly way. There’s work, and then there’s work.
My former company’s headquarters had a “war room” wherein board meetings were held. It faced a lovely golf course in Mission Valley, San Diego. Many was the long and tedious hour that I wished myself out of the corporate grind and out on the course. Yesterday I packed out my desk, turned in my badges, picked up my final check and headed to the links (score: 78). Met a select group of friends at a local watering hole afterward. Had two beers – no more – drove home at 6:00PM and fell asleep in the Hobbit’s lap until ten as she watched TV. A weight lifted off my shoulders, the new burden – such as it is – not yet harnessed.
Wish me luck.
11-01-2018 was linked to a Lex post no longer available – Ulysses neptunuslex.com of 05-14-2008 – Ed.