One evening in Southern California, I decided to rent a PA-34 Piper Seneca from Chino airport. The Seneca has two piston engines and can carry up to six passengers. I arrived at Chino airport, did my pre-flight, like I always do per the checklist, plus more. Just before jumping into the airplane I made one last stop at the little pilot's room as I like to jokingly call the restroom, to take a pee. Not knowing my bladder had other ideas later on.
The sun was still up, but slowly setting as I’m flying my way over Pomona then Burbank, and continuing over Camarillo towards my stop at Santa Barbra airport. In route, I was in communication with Southern California (SoCal) Approach and receiving flight following from Air Traffic Control (ATC). The surrounding skies where pretty clear. The radio communication between ATC and anyone else was quite, pretty much the whole flight. Almost like I was the only one flying, and ATC was closed up for the night, not really in this case.
As I started my approach to land into Santa Barbra airport the sun had just dropped below the ocean, the horizon. I taxied the airplane off the runway and headed back to takeoff again to start my return flight back home to Chino. As I got set up for the flight, the pre-takeoff checklist, radios, navigation, etc., I had the feeling of I have to pee. Set for a second and thought should I taxi to the FBO (Fixed Base Operation) and run in and use the restroom. By doing that I would have to pay $20 plus dollars for a landing and stopping at the FBO fee, or just fly back?
I should be fine, I thought to myself. I began to call Santa Barbra tower to ask for takeoff clearance to head back home. By this time, the sun had fully disappeared and nighttime had set in. As I departed south bound over the Pacific Ocean towards the Channel Islands from Santa Barbra, the night sky was dark, very dark. I was flying at my assigned altitude, 1,300 feet Measured Sea Level (MSL) given to me by the ATC tower just before takeoff. After I switched frequencies to Santa Barbra Departure Control they had me continue on my current heading and altitude.
There was no Moon to shine on the ocean to give me a bit of a horizon reference. At this point you really have to look at and rely on your instruments, to where you are almost flying IFR (Instrument Flight Rules). After flying along for what seemed to be a long time, I knew I was getting close to the islands, but I was not sure how close since I was unable to see anything. I called Departure and asked for a climbing left turn back in land. I think ATC, had forgotten about me, ATC came back and said, "Climb and own navigation approved". As I climbed the Seneca to the set cruising altitude, which I had chosen I was nearing the half way point between Santa Barbra and the Oxnard/Camarillo area. Again, the ATC communication was quite, it felt like I was the only one flying, after being handed over too Point Mugu NAS (Naval Air Station) Approach Control from Santa Barbra Departure, except for one other airplane communicating with ATC.
By this time my bladder was telling me that I need to pee, and very badly. I usually care an empty bottle to pee in, just for this purpose, and it was in my backpack in the back seat just behind me, so I can reach it. I reached back to grab my backpack, and unknowing to me my backpack was not there in the seat, Oh Shit! I said to myself. The backpack had rolled off the set during takeoff from Santa Barbra and on to the floor of the airplane and out of reach.
"What, am I going to do now, I thought."
I could undo my seat belt and really reach for it, which would not be safe. On the other hand, I could divert to the Oxnard airport and use the restroom. So I continued on flying direct back towards Chino airport. I had to pee so bad that it felt as if my eyeballs were floating and I my bladder area was going to explode like one of those gory Sci-Fi movies. I thought to myself if I just pee my pants, no one at the airport would notice my soaked pants, because it is nighttime and no one less is around at the airport this time of night, it would not be so embarrassing.
After finally landing, back at the Chino airport I taxied the airplane a bit faster than normal back to its parking spot. Took off my seat belt as I was taxing into the spot and shut down both engines on the roll,making sure the airplane was at a stop, swung open the door and ran across the parking area without trying not to wet myself, to the fence.
After literally a few minutes of watering the over grown grass and weeds, life was good. Went back and continued shutting down everything else and putting the airplane to bed for the night.
Lessons and Experiences learned:
· Since, there was no Moon to give a bit of a visual
of a horizon, always be aware of what is going and where you are flying and never become complacent during any flight.
· Next time, put my backpack with empty bottle or something to pee in, in the co-pilots seat, for better access, if flying by-yourself. Ladies sorry, but not sure what to tell you on this one.