A day off!
Or not. I thought it would be a bit more relaxing, but alas, modern life has its demands. Answering email, returning phone calls, a bit of studying, laundry, writing something for the site here, and poof! before you know it, the day is over. I remember when I was a kid, a week seemed like an eternity. Now it’s like every time I blink another month has gone by. I’m practically suffering from jet lag without even leaving the time zone!
I did take an hour or so today to check out the observation are on the northern end of Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport. It’s not far from my hotel, and the view there is excellent considering this part of Texas is as flat as a pancake.
DFW is a truly massive airport. I believe it’s the second or third largest on the planet when judged by sheer physical size. You could take the acreage of every airport in southern California and fit them all into DFW’s over-sized footprint, it seems. As I said, I watched planes come and go for about an hour, and despite being a very busy time for the airport, there wasn’t a single aircraft that took off or landed (from what I could see, at least) which didn’t have the American Airlines paint scheme on it. I drive right past American’s huge hangars every day on the way to Simuflite. They have quite an operation here.
Eventually the wind started to pick up and the late afternoon thunderstorms that Texas is so famous for began to form. Pilots don’t care for them, but they certainly present an opportunity for some cool photography. The lighting and thunder made for quite a show, I have to say. These aren’t the simple air mass thunderstorms we get in the high desert above Los Angeles, but rather an solid, extensive line of cells which had plenty of fuel from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. You could the feel the energy in the air. By the time the storm had reached the eastern edge of the airport, I’d had my fill and zipped back to the hotel.
A reader emailed to ask me what I thought of Dallas as a training location. I’ve only been here five days, but my initial impression is positive. For one thing, their basketball team is in the NBA finals. The Lakers blew it this year, so it’s comforting to have that excitement about a possible championship in the air. Believe it or not, it makes the place feel like home. Seriously.
The town’s not perfect, though. For one thing, the traffic in Dallas can be as bad as any I’ve found in Orange County. I’m not just referring to the highways, but also the city streets. I’ve seen many inefficient intersections, poorly synchronized traffic lights, low speed limits, and so on. It’s hot and humid, of course, but nowhere near as bad as a place like Florida or Louisiana. And besides, if you’re here for the kind of training I’m doing, you’re going to be indoors all day anyway.
On the plus side, Dallas is a short airline flight away for most people living in the U.S., and with American Airlines based here it’s easy to get flights no matter where you’re coming from. It’s worth noting that there are many training centers around DFW (FlightSafety, Bombardier, SimuFlite) so you can get training on most aircraft in the corporate jet fleet. There are plenty of good hotels near DFW and the folks I’ve encountered thus far seem friendly enough.
One thing you probably won’t be able to escape, regardless of where you train, is the high cost of being in a major city. I thought things might be less expensive here in Dallas, but they seems to be the same as in California. Everyone talks about what a low tax, low cost-of-living place Texas is, but I haven’t found my own costs to be any lower than they might be back home.
My rental car is an example: the cost is only $17 a day, but the taxes and fees more than double it. You literally pay more for the taxes than you do for the rental. They don’t mention that in their advertised rates, so it was an unpleasant surprise at the counter. I checked into rentals which are outside the DFW Airport area, because they often tack on higher costs near major airports to sock it to tourists and those traveling for business, but there was no relief to be found.