There is an old joke about the three steps needed to ensure success in life:
1. Work hard
2. Sleep early
3. Find oil
Do all three, and you will have a rich and fruitful life.
Mike found oil at San Fernando, and ensured that he still has a life.
San Fernando, La Union has a beautiful 7,000-foot runway, newly paved with virgin white concrete, runway and taxiway lighting, a new control tower, huge parking ramp.
And aviation gasoline.
Only three airports in Luzon sell avgas — Clark, Manila and San Fernando.
For short-legged airplanes like the Cessna 152, San Fernando is the gateway to northern Luzon. If we refuel at San Fernando, we can fly to Vigan and Laoag. Of course, once we are at Vigan or Laoag, we need to refuel again back at San Fernando, to get all the way home to Clark. Remember this. We will see this fuel conundrum again.
Student pilots learn to leave the nest by flying solo cross-country. The fledgling aviator flies far from home, alone in an airplane, left to his own wits. He needs to find and land at two airports over 50 miles away from each other. And then he needs to fly home. If he can find home.
This procedure scares the living daylights out of his instructor. And his Dad.
When Carlo flew to Lingayen and San Fernando for his first cross-country, he had never traveled alone outside Manila. He didn’t even have a driver’s license. Yet there he was, alone in an airplane cockpit, trying to find an airport five provinces away from Manila. He didn’t even bring any money.
Mike was flying his first cross-country solo, Omni-Lingayen-San Fernando-Clark, on Maundy Thursday. He arrived at San Fernando and discovered oil!
Engine oil, that is. There was oil pouring out of his engine.
Fortunately, he had already landed. Over 15o kilometers from his flying school’s home base, he did the smart thing. Actually, two smart things:
1. He called the flying school for a rescue airplane
2. Then he headed for the beach.
His SMS message is still in my phone.
“First solo cross country. Aircraft had massive oil leak. Landed in rpus safely. Am now stranded in surfing capital of the philippines! On beach listening to cinema paradiso. No sense in freaking out!”
If I ever need to send a distress message, I’ll remember Mike’s style.
Carlo and I flew from Omni that day, to San Fernando and Vigan. When we arrived at San Fernando for fuel, we found Mike quite relaxed.
His flying school’s chief mechanic had already been flown in by another airplane, and was tightening the oil return hose that Mike probably loosened himself, just so he could visit San Fernando’s famed surfing beaches.
Mike’s good cheer was infectious.
If he wasn’t worried, then neither were we! We said au revoir and flew off to Vigan, an hour north by Cessna 152.
Posted from Bangkok, April 19, 2009