Stranded In The Southland

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pwhew, Getting Close

The checkride is tomorrow, so I'm desperately preparing myself. I went up with H. Friday, and did a bunch of touch and goes at Brackett Field, flying over the LA Fair on each circuit of the pattern. He seemed much more pleased with my landings. [M. and I joined a couple of friends at the fair just a few hours later. It was kind of fun to have seen it all from the air, and then stroll through it, eating food on a stick.]

Saturday, H. and I got together to finish up the paperwork for the checkride. We had to use the FAA's new IACRA website to enter our data, which is a total joke. This could've been done by any bozo off the street in no time at all, and made to work on any browser. But the FAA's version only works on Internet Explorer, and Internet Explorer 6 at that (the latest IE is version 7). It was a total pain.

Then we got around to looking at the aircraft maintenance records. I have to prove to the examiner that the plane is legal to fly -- various parts have to be inspected at various intervals, and all of this has to be elaborately documented. I'd asked about this last week, but H. had assured me that it was no problem, that the appropriate portions of the documentation were highlighted and flagged so it was trivial to do this part.

Then he couldn't find the documentation for the plane I fly. After we just about took apart the office, I found the maintanence logs in a plastic bag at the bottom of the drawer with the logs for the rest of the planes. Bonus. Except that the logs weren't highlighted, and, in fact, some of the tach time information was clearly wrong (you have to inspect the planes after 100 hours on the engine, so this is important). They'll have to try to correct this tomorrow morning before the examiner gets there.

Okay, that's bad enough, but it gets worse. H. tells me that the mechanic is an idiot, and he ran into the same problem with a checkride on a different aircraft a couple of weeks ago. Ummm, so why didn't the staff look at all of the maintenance logs at that time and correct them all!? I don't know, but I have to wonder why H. was so relaxed about this last week ("Don't worry about it!") when he already knew that there had been problems with this previously. There's nothing like going into this practical with doubts about the most basic issues of the aircraft, let alone my skills or knowledge.

For all that, flying with H. went just fine Saturday, with some brief practice of steep turns and stalls. I went out today (Sunday) and flew some short-field landings at Riverside and San Bernadino and then flew back. It was a real confidence builder to be able to hop in the plane and, just as I've been trained, fly somewhere. Woo hoo.

I guess I'll find out tomorrow. H. has told me I'm ready, so hopefully I'm ready. Most people pass on the first try, and neither the examiner nor the recommending instructor (H.) want to rack up a bunch of failures. But we'll see -- I've done my best to prepare and hopefully it'll all work out.