A costly let down.
Today, four days before I was supposed to accompany two pilots as they flew my helicopter from Seattle to Phoenix, I received an e-mail message from one of the pilots. He claimed that his companion couldn’t get time off from work for the trip. Since he couldn’t afford to make the flight on his own, he was going to have to cancel. I should contact one of my “backups” to make the trip with me.
There are no backups. There were two other pilots interested in making the flight, but I told them that the seats were already taken. That was two months ago, when these clowns said they’d do the flight. Did these guys think I had a room full of pilots waiting for them to back out? Or that most people can drop everything to arrange a spur-of-the-moment, two-day trip between Seattle and Phoenix? Or that I can get someone else on my insurance that quickly?
Yes, I’d planned this flight two months ago. I was in Washington State with the helicopter for cherry drying season and I knew I needed to get the helicopter back. I put the word out to the five people I had on a list who’d said they were interested in doing ferry flights with me. Two dropped out right away because of date conflicts. I chose one of the guys who was left because I’d flown with him before. Back then, he’d asked if he could do the return trip and I told him I’d keep him in mind. He was a known. The other two were unknowns. I went with the known. He was bringing along his student pilot to share the costs. Seemed like a good plan.
The trip had several date changes. At first, it was August. Then I gave him a choice between late August or Labor Day week in September. He chose September. We were supposed to go on Wednesday, but my helicopter is waiting for a part, so I had to push it back to Friday.
I was assured there would be no problem right up until I got the e-mail message this morning.
The bastard was too cowardly to call. (That rumor about me being able to beat people to a pulp over a phone line is simply not true.)
Clearly, he knew he wasn’t going for at least a week. If he planned to go, he would have bought his return plane ticket. I bought my ticket up there as soon as I had a solid date — nearly two weeks ago. He probably never bought his. Never made an investment in the flight. Nothing to lose by canceling.
The trip will cost me over $3,000. I expected to receive almost that much from the pilots renting my aircraft for the flight. It would have been an almost break-even ferry flight. They would have built R44 time for about half the cost of renting one through the usual channels. I would have had my helicopter moved 1,000 miles for next to nothing.
But now I’m scrambling for paying passengers or other pilots willing to take their place.
In the end, Mike will likely go up to Seattle with me and we’ll share flying duties for the return flight. It’ll be a very costly two days together.
What amazes me about this is how completely irresponsible and inconsiderate some people can be. Not only are these clowns costing me at least $3,000, but they caused me to let down two other pilots who likely would have done the entire flight with me.
I wonder how reliable these guys will be when employed as pilots. Will they fail to show up at work for their week on at the Canyon? Sleep late when they need to pick up passengers in the Gulf? Cut corners on the routes when running tours in Hawaii? Let accident victims die because they don’t feel like firing up the medevac helicopter so medics can scrape them off the pavement?
Do I sound angry? I am.
Jeez, I would never do this kind of thing to someone.
But, as my friend Jim reminded me this afternoon, I’ve been riding with Lady Luck for quite a while now. Gotta take the bad with the good. So I’ll cough up the money and try not to think about it.
As for the little bastard that cost me all this money, I just hope he’s stupid enough to put me or one of my friends down on his resumé as a reference.
Interested in making the flight? Check out the Craig’s List listing if you don’t mind me doing the flying.