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And meanwhile that same day but a few miles west and 2000 ft up, a drama of a different sort was unfolding. I was practicing touch-and-go landings at Van Nuys airport, as a student pilot in a Cessna 172. The Tower announced: “Be aware, lightning strikes east of the airport”, and I looked over to see the dark clouds high above Burbank rolling along the Santa Monica hills. I finished my descent, let the wheels kiss the VNY runway, and gunned the engine to climb up back to home base at Santa Monica airport. Over the flood basin, on the Valley side of the Sepulveda Pass, I got splatterings of rain on the windows and the plane was twisted sideways and dropped in a rollercoaster-like drop of several hundred feet. The flight training helped though: I let the plane drop in order to keep the speed up, then built up enough altitude to cross the hills, and made it safely back to the calmer Westwood. When I landed (and after unclenching my hands from the controls), I noticed the smell of the rain on the runway pavement, and thought it lovely. I think gained significant XP on that flight, maybe enough to advance a level... and certainly learned the lesson of _always_ checking the weather forecast even for short training flights close to home.
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Oct 2, 2010