September 14, 2004


I'm having trouble getting a club instructor to do the club phase check before the end of next week (was it something I said?!), so John and I take 4JG for a nearly-impromptu short lesson in The Usual (including another Just Another Boring Bay Area Sunset on departure...). Holds, steep turns, and GPS approaches (Byron -- C83 -- and Oakland), pretty much all done partial panel. No surprises, no major issues, and while my flying is still agricultural, things don't seem to present quite the challenges they used to. Not that things are routine -- they're not -- but at least I'm usually ahead of the plane and instruments for most of the time. The steep turns under the hood didn't go as well as they should, but there's something a little weird about the way 4JG's rigged (it doen't seem to like turning steeply to the left -- the ones to the right went perfectly). Even John had trouble doing it well when he tried.

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John's started talking about holding me to "2/2/20". No, it's not the date he expects me to finally get my rating, it's the 2 degrees heading / 2 knots airspeed / 20 feet altitude standard he wants me to aim for. Yeah, right! In the 172s I fly -- even 4JG, which is so nicely stable at speed below about 100 -- under the Cone Of Stupidity I have trouble with 10 / 10 / 100, and I'm not sure the instruments would even detect a 2 knot change in airspeed or 2 degree change in heading, let alone display the change usefully :-). But this evening's little flight was, for at least some of the time, close to a 5 / 5 / 50 standard, which makes me think I might be able to fly to PTS standards on a checkride (and at other times) with a lot of concentration.

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A wrinkle's starting to develop in the schedule -- I need to be in Australia for most of November -- and I'll either have to do the checkride before then or after. I'm not sure I can do it before (in order to get to Oz I need to do a lot of extra contract work between now and then), but if I leave it for a month, it's going to take some extra time to catch up. I'm not sure how this will play out...

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When we start up, OAK ATIS is announcing a ground hold for all aircraft leaving for the LA basin and San Diego. This sounds ominous -- 'round here you immediately think "earthquake!" when you hear something like that with such widespread disruption -- but later when we ask a NorCal controller what's up in the Great Southlands he says he's not too sure himself, but he's heard that there's been some sort of radio failure at SoCal Approach or LA Center. That turns out to be something of an understatement...

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