My hair is growing wildly in every direction. I've been working every day for almost as many days in a row as the law and company op specs allow, and the few days off that have materialized haven't aligned with the days my hairdresser is available. (Yes, I could go to another hairdresser. Indeed it was just such a crazy hair situation that caused me to find my current hairdresser, but I don't take cheating on my hairdresser lightly). The days off have been occupied with laundry and what I call 'weeding.'
'Weeding' for me is pulling out handfuls of green things I don't know what they are so that I can see the colourful flowers that I don't know what they are either. My favourite part is when the weeds attack one another, e.g. when a climbing vine weed binds itself around a fast-growing vertical weed. My garden is even more unkempt than my hair. I confessed to a neighbour that I really didn't know where to start on the weeding and she said a little contemptuously, "You could at least start." Her yard is enough houses away that I don't think my weeds actually attack hers, so I hope she derives satisfied pleasure that her garden is so much nicer than mine. It's good when one's garden brings others pleasure, don't you think?
I was scheduled to do a PPC ride (annual recurrent flight test) a couple of months ago, but the examiner got sick and missed his ride, so he wasn't qualified to do mine on the appropriate day. It's stressy getting ready for a PPC, because I have to demonstrate flying the airplane in a way I almost never fly it. I don't even know what approach category I should put myself in. (Approach categories are based on approach speed in Canada, not on stall speed. I can comfortably approach at anything between max gear extension speed and blue line, a range of forty knots, spanning three categories. And in visual conditions I have accepted requests to maintain speeds outside that range at both ends. Sequenced with military jets for a long runway I can keep my speed above gear speed until short final, and then let it bleed off over the runway before dropping gear and flaps. And sequenced with little training aircraft in a busy circuit I have turned final a few knots below blue line, still going about double the speed of the student in front of me.
Blue line is the best rate of climb speed on one engine, a speed I should be at or above while climbing, so I don't need to try and accelerate to it if I lose an engine. It's still faster than red line, the minimum controllable airspeed or Vmc. That's the speed below which the asymmetrical thrust resulting from an engine failure may render the airplane uncontrollable. Vmc is calculated at full power, so while being below blue line on final represents a low energy situation, it's not one that would flip me upside-down if an engine failed. Should I need to abort the landing and go around because the student in the Cessna didn't make it off the runway in time, I would be sure to increase speed above blue line before raising the nose for the climb.
It's at take off, during a full power go around, or in very low speed practice manoeuvres that Vmc becomes of most concern. The POH advises that at take off the airplane should be kept near the runway until Vmc. Given that the rotation speed specified in the POH is Vmc, except for a different place in the POH where it's given at Vmc+5, I think I can keep the airplane near the runway until after rotation. For approach it recommends only "Maintain sufficient speed during turns in the traffic pattern." Yeah, thanks. I got that. It's a good thing you told me, POH.
So I'm in the office, looking for more specific training materials and someone eyes the baseball cap under which I've crammed all my unruly hair, crying out for the attention of a competent hairdresser. "Is your hair a different colour under there?" he asks. I explain that I'm pretending to be like Kelly McGillis in Top Gun. He is unfamiliar with the reference. "Who is Kelly McGillis?" What is he doing in aviation?
I elaborate, "I'm imagining that if I take my hat off, my hair will cascade out, looking perfect." Everyone has seen that scene in some movie or another. And then I remember that in the scene where Kelly is wearing the baseball cap, she doesn't take it off. She's wearing the cap because that scene was filmed later, after she had already changed her hair colour for another movie she was in. My coworker was right all along. What am I doing in aviation? I'd better re-watch the movie. Surely there is some scene in which she takes off a hat? A motorcycle helmet? No, I think they don't ride motorcycle helmets in that movie. They're too cool.
Later I overhear a snippet of conversation between an HR person and an office person about maintaining a professional appearance. Hmm, maybe I need a classier baseball cap. Or a day off. Coming soon! Right after my PPC I think.