Back to the hangar, for what should be the last time. We said we'd have the airplane back to the customer today, but this airport is fogged in solid, so we have a little while to work before the pressure is really on. It's cold again today, even colder. I crank the heat on the hangar. We're paying to rent it. I nerd on the iPod for a bit then ask if they are done the cabin inspection so I can close up in there. "Oh, cabin inspection, right." That would be a no. They are done in the nose, so I replace all the gear. It always looks like something is missing when I put it back, because it fits so much better when you have it all out and can play tetris with it to get the best fit, as compared to when you're just digging something out and shoving it back. Then it's like this sort of tetris. My high score there is 100.
I call flight services for an update on weather, seeing as I can't see more than a couple of hundred metres past the door of the hangar. I think I can see further inside than outside. The weather is not good at destination yet, either, but both should improve before long. There's still no NOTAM on the drag racing, so I call the local Flight Services personnel to ask. They tell me the races take place on a disused taxiway on the other side of the airport and have no impact on operations. Ahh. I call back the FSS briefer to pass on this information, so they can mollify any other pilot who is concerned by the signs.
The cabin inspection is complete and one of the AMEs is closing up the panels there. I feel guilty that he is fixing the mess I made in the cabin, pulling everything apart to get to the cables. Those panels come in and out a lot so there were different kinds of holes, different sizes of screws, carpet and other miscellany. As they get ready to tow the aircraft out, I put the seats back in the cockpit. They always go back in easier than out, the opposite of the cabin seats. I see as I secure the locks on the rails that he has done a beautiful job reassembling the floor. It's better than when I started.
I compliment him on that, it's an easy thing to be lazy about, hence the mess it was in when I started. Both guys seem grateful for my help over the last few days, despite my sometimes self-sabotaging assistance. I suppose just having company is good, too. Now it's time for me to go do what I'm good at.
I walkaround and make sure that we haven't left any important bits unattached, then start up and run up the engines. Everything looks fine, sounds fine. They want a fairly long run so call for taxi and, after I let a Cessna 180 go by, go out on the runway to do the break-in for the new brake pads. A couple of accelerate-stops and then I'm back to the ramp. They pull the cowls again and I assume my note "leak check goo" means that it was all good with no leaks, because after that we went back to the hotel to get Internet access for the references needed to finish the last of the paperwork. I load bags my bags into the airplane, thank the guys again for their work and leave while they are still cleaning the hangar.
After take off I keep the speed down so I can cycle the gear a couple of times. Everything works as well as it did on the jacks. Sometimes with the airflow going by the calibration or something isn't quite right, but today it's perfect. I text an "all good" (or possibly "all goo," hope they understood) and steer direct for the waiting customers.
My northbound track takes me right through where the storm was on the way down. I haven't cleared the GPS track, so you can see my route south, my initial 180, slightly kidney shaped as I deked the visible lightning, another foray to the south east, and then a big wide semi-cardiod shape completely avoiding the area of thunderstorms before rejoining the planned track to destination. A little avgas and a little airframe time doesn't compare to the risk of lightning, downdrafts, disorientation and severe turbulence inside those monsters. Now there is nothing but sky and nice little puffy clouds. At destination it's approach, land, rollout, park, text, and get a ride to the hotel. They tell me the sky went black here after I left, too. They saw the same monster that I tickled.
The cardkey encoder still doesn't work at the hotel, so I need to wait in the lobby for an escort to my room. As the encoder is an American-designed security device containing encryption technology it has been held up at customs. At least they ordered two, so they won't be in this bind next time. It could be so miserable for the employees having to deal with customers complaining over this, but my escort has chosen to be unassailably cheerful and friendly about it all. I don't think it would be possible to be miserable to her about the situation. Any negativity you tried to direct at her would bounce right off.
Dinner brings me back to Boston Pizza. No, I didn't miss it. Back in the hotel I watch Casino Royale. I've seen and even "reviewed" it before, but now I'm looking at it in the context of a "reset" in the manner of the new Star Trek movie: take a long-running franchise, retell the beginning of the legend, and then start over in a new time period. I'm sure this has been done again and again, but it's the first time I've noticed it. That's not counting anachronisms like obviously European architecture and principals in biblical artwork, or the stories in Shakespeare being retold in different eras, like Romeo and Juliet becoming West Side Story. It's a good idea, really just an extension of translation to allow people to identify with a work that would otherwise be too far removed from their knowledge. Vesper is still the stupidest password ever, though.