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.
re: But now I'm bored.
Most dangerous component in any aircraft! Bored pilots have been known to fly past destinations, or start playing the deadly game: Say - did you know this little trick no one else knows about this part of the plane? (fill in the blank)...
Happily you're on the ground where the dangers are limited to merely ticking off your customers - ha ha!
Now that was interesting. There were four comments on this post. I removed one duplicate comment, and all the comments vanished.
Blogger has been having some troubles lately, so this may be related. If yours was one of the deleted comments, rest assured that it was appreciated and I didn't mean to delete it.
Except for the guy who left a relevant-enough comment and then appended a commercial link selling sunglasses. You stop doing that please.
And the comments came back. Blogger rumbles on.
Hi, I'm a long time follower of your blog and I have a question about the Canadian/Transport Canada Private Pilot Licence (PPL). Hope you don't mind - you're the only Canadian pilot I know!
I just got my US PPL and I'm headed to Montreal for grad school. I'm thinking about taking advantage of the TC-FAA conversion agreement. My question is, is the Canadian PPL still just a piece of paper like this example (http://www.ahaveningilead.com/TheBartonsinCanada/transportcanadacommercialpilotnoca421380.jpg)
or is it more like a photo ID like the current FAA PPL?
That's an easy question. I was afraid you were going to ask a hard one about the conversion requirements. A Canadian pilot licence is now passport-style like this, but I believe some private licences are still in the old piece of paper format, because their holders are waiting until the last moment to apply for the new format.
Oh and congratulations, Tom, on the grad school thing. Sounds impressive, and Montréal is a fabulous place of history and culture.
"You seem to be having trouble with pilot things? Would you like some help? ..."
Ah ha!! Aviatrix REALLY IS the paperclip! for all things aviational.
Aviatrix has useful suggestions and advice. The paperclip doesn't.
@Rhonda - I agree completely and hope my point wasn't mis-stated. Aviatrix is what the paperclip was SUPPOSED to be - a convenient source of useful and helpful information.
I hope that's more clearly stated! Yay Aviatrix!!
According to the photo of your license (nice hair! as always), your IR is valid to June 2010. I'm hoping there is a blog post coming on that.
Ah, jokes in text. So hard to get across. (sigh)
One day I'll learn :-)
If the engines aren't running, why do you need to be in the cockpit? Can't you just leave the ground power plugged in, the computer guys to do their thing and wander off?
Daniel: The airplane is kind of their conference room and workspace. I didn't want to barge through the middle of their meeting in order to get out, and there wasn't room to do it discreetly. Had I known how long it would take at the beginning, I would have done just that before they went to work.
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