My boss, or perhaps I should say my customer, seeing as I am a contractor, announces what is phrased to me as "good news and very bad news." It's further broken down as good news for the company and very bad news for me. I've had very bad news just too many times in my career to break down into tears at this point. And this is a temporary job. I'm guessing off the top of my head that the company has been bought out and they don't need me any more. Or perhaps there's some air regulation I didn't know that requires me to be shot at dawn for having requested the wrong departure from clearance delivery. I really don't remember that from the CARs. A pilot has to keep up on these things! I'm braced.
The good news is that the company has received approval to do IFR work. IFR photo survey might sound like bad news for anyone involved, but this doesn't mean we'll be taking pictures of the insides of clouds, it's for an airspace technicality, like needing CVFR flight over 12,500'. The airspace 18,000' and above is designated as Class A (which the Americans pronounce "alpha" but the Canadians pronounce "eh") and it is open to IFR traffic only. So in order to fly above 18,000' we need to have an IFR operating certificate.
Why might this bad news for me? Although my IFR rating is current, renewed less than ten months ago, I need to do an IFR flight test on this aircraft type. As soon as possible. Normally it's difficult to get an expedited ride (flight tests are called "rides," I guess because the Americans call them checkrides and the shortened form came north), but Vancouver has a regional Transport Canada office, so TC agreed to do the ride themselves, with the stipulation that it is a monitored ride. Not monitored as in "this call will be monitored to ensure customer satisfaction" but monitored in that there will be one person evaluating me and another person in the airplane evaluating his or her ability to evaluate me. But from any pilot's point of view it means there will be two Transport Canada inspectors sitting in the airplane taking careful notes on the way I screw up. Joy.
I tell the bearer of these tidings that having my skills evaluated is a normal part of my job and that really the second Transport person in the airplane is there to evaluate the first one, so it spreads out the pressure rather than intensifying it. Where ever did I learn such sang froid? I think it's like handling an emergency in the airplane: it's such short notice that there isn't time to get all angsty. I just have to do it. I can fly this airplane. I can fly IFR. I should be able to fly this one IFR. I ask for the opportunity to do a practice flight with a safety pilot, during which I can practice stalls and engine failure drills. I don't know how this airplane responds with a failed engine, or what power setting will hold an ILS glideslope in zero wind, and I don't know what tricks the local controllers might have for me. The employer agrees to that, and even suggests a local Vancouver pilot who knows the airplane and the area.
And then I go and take pictures.