Monday, 8 September 2014

Two for the price of one

“So what fine plane do you have for me this morning?” I enquired of dispatch.

“bleuch!” was my joking response to their reply of “SAR.”

I was suitably put in my place when they informed me “Hey, think yourself lucky. You were in JPM until I swapped you out.”

Laughingly I thanked them, appreciating why it pays to stay on the good side of dispatch. I picked up the key, pausing only to shove a cushion under my arm and headed out to preflight her.

I took my time, having just received a text from Bob that he was running 15 minutes late. I’d noticed that I wasn’t his first flight of the day. Obviously him and his previous student were a little behind schedule.

No big deal. I finished up, returned my milk crates to the dusty corner of the hanger from whence they came and made myself comfortable on the sofa to read through my flight test notes. At least I made myself as comfortable as is possible on furniture that appears to have made into onto the North American continent via the Mayflower.

The radio was on in the background, tuned to the tower frequency. I quickly realised that Bob was going to be later than planned, his plane just reentering the zone from the west.

Again I wasn’t unduly concerned. However dispatch seemed to be juggling planes. I was asked if I minded giving up SAR and taking the plane Bob was currently in. Which just so happened to be JES!

I readily agreed, if they could give me 5 minutes to grab my stuff out of it.

Eventually Bob and his previous student landed and parked up. I preflighted JES while they debriefed.

While I didn’t mind swapping out for a better plane, I mentally groaned at the fact that I’d have to dig my stack of crates back out of the hanger in order to check on the fuel.

I will admit that the little devil on my shoulder did briefly sow the seed of “do you really need to drain the fuel? The plane has just landed, the fuel is obviously ok. Bob'll have checked everything thoroughly”

But then as well as deep down knowing the answer to that question, I also noticed that the fuel gauges were showing just under half fuel in one tank and significantly under half in the second. I was going to have to dip the tanks anyways, to see exactly how much we did have in there*.

Oh well, at least I wasn’t going to have to hunt for the crates as usual. I knew exactly where I’d left them. I got to preflight two planes for one flight. Maybe I should have asked for a discount!

* fuel gauges on planes are notoriously unreliable. When you get up on the wing and look in the tanks, basically fuel to the top means full tanks. Beyond that I’m not tall enough (even with my stack of crates) to look down into the tank. I usually stick my finger in. Anything above the first joint means ¾ tanks or better. Any lower and I have to use a dipstick. JES’s fuel gauges always seem to be on the pessimistic side.

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