We have another day of not-so-great weather, and another request to run the airplane for software upgrades. I'm typing up the last several entries out all at once, in anticipation of being too busy to blog, so chances are that you've all been asking "why the hell does she run the engines on the ground to do the software upgrades?" Good question.
We can't take the computers out and upgrade the software on a desk, because the airplane is kind of like the Borg from Star Trek, partly what it was born as, partly computerized implants, and the desire to assimilate all life forms it encounters. That's the real reason why it so quickly becomes encrusted with bugs. So the computers have to stay attached to the airplane, and they are wired up to get their power from it. And airplanes produce power with engines. Some FBOs also have GPU carts that we can rent to provide power, but the typical GPU runs on diesel fuel, may require an attendant of its own, and the charge to use it would be as great as the cost of the fuel we'll burn from our own tanks. And with the engines running we have heat, too.
)On this occasion, however, I manage to secure a ground cart that puts out the right voltage to run our airplane systems, and it plugs into the mains. I plug it into the same recepticle in the nose as a full-sized GPU would connect to, and the appropriate lights go on. (The weird thing is that when you use ground power on this aircraft, you leave the electrical master off. It's a little spooky the way someone can turn on my systems by plugging into an unlocked external recepticle).
You don't realize how much you are doing, just sitting in an airplane chocked on the ground with the engines running for an hour until you are sitting in the same airplane chocked on the ground with the engines not running for an hour. I wasn't really bored when I was monitoring the engines. But now I'm bored. I play with the GPS. I text people. I read manuals. I sort out the things that shouldn't be in here at all (most of them are dead batteries). I clean the cockpit. I had originally planned to clean up oil stains on the outside during this procedure, but there isn't really room for me to get past the people working behind me to get out and do that.
Seeing as there is no engine running noise, I can hear their conversation and I want so much to be helpful. Or just sympathize. If I were on my third marathon computer upgrade attempt in a week, I'd like some sympathy. But it is my curse. I am too eager to be helpful. To these people, and their operation, my input is as wanted as that of Clippy the Paperclip, from Microsoft's very poorly received Office 97. These people don't want suggestions they have already tried or discarded. They don't want commiseration, or another a point of view. They want an airplane that works with a pilot who shows up on time and flies it safely and efficently. I think to myself, "It looks like you're installing BorgTec for Vista 7. Would you like some help?" And then I click on the close button for that thought.