Life 2.0: How People Across the Country Are Transforming Their Lives to Make Their Own American Dream by Rich Karlgaard

Life 2.0: How People Across the Country Are Transforming Their Lives to Make Their Own American Dream by Rich Karlgaard

Author:Rich Karlgaard
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Published: 2004-07-26T14:00:00+00:00


BUG SMASHER GOES

THROUGH GALLATIN PASS

The day is rapidly warming and my climb after takeoff out of Billings is sluggish. I want to get up to 10,500 feet, which will allow plenty of margin over the 6,700-foot Gallatin Pass. But the airplane is performing pathetically in the hot and thin Montana air today, and it takes me forever to get up to ten five.

Simplest thing is to follow Interstate 90. On this leg, I’ll take no chances and back up pilotage with the trusty GPS moving map, which also depicts Interstate 90. It’s comforting to have this high-tech toy as backup, because forty miles ahead are a pair of mountain passes, and I can’t tell which is Gallatin. The moving map says it’s the one on the left. As I get closer I see that the mountains on both sides of the Gallatin Pass are higher than the Skyhawk’s 10,500 cruising altitude. Should I go up to 12,500 feet? The pass seems wide enough, so I stay put. Through the Gallatin Pass I grit myself for the possibility of Venturi-effect funnel winds. I’m nervous as a cat, looking up at the peaks on both sides of the pass. My mouth is dry. My butt squinches. But the wind remains calm. Thank God.

The Bozeman airport is immediately on the other side of the Gallatin Pass, in a valley whose floor is only 4,400 feet. This means I’ll have to chop power and drop 6,100 feet of altitude over the next twelve miles. That’s a hell of a drop. Montana pilots suffer a higher than normal rate of fatalities during bad weather, due to the act of flying blind through the clouds amid the tall mountains. I can see the airport ahead, but I can also see that I’m still too high, despite having chopped the power to idle. I ask the tower for a 360 descending turn in order to lose more altitude. That plan works, the rollout is perfect, and the landing is sweet.

I taxi up to the Yellowstone Jet Center. The parking lot, or ramp as it is called, is filled with corporate jets glittering on black pavement—Citations, Gulfstreams, Falcons, Global Expresses. The superrich California/New York crowd has arrived for the month of August—David Letterman, Tom Brokaw, numerous Silicon Valley billionaires—all with fabulous spreads in Montana. Credit them for good taste. It’s beautiful here in Bozeman, and for the next few minutes I feel like a card-carrying member of the billionaire crowd myself, my very own airplane parked alongside the $20 million jets.

Sweet God, I enjoy feeling rich.



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