Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Company has rush-ordered a new heater, we're almost due for scheduled maintenance, and the weather is turning bad all over the province, and it's already bad in the neighbouring ones. It's a rare convergence of circumstances that suggest so strongly that we fly the airplane back to base, so we check out of yet another hotel and fly home VFR.

The co-owner welcomes us in, then I tidy up the airplane. I don't track down a vacuum cleaner before closing time, but I do neaten up the seatbelts, pick all the muffin crumbs out of the carpet, find my headset bag and stow my headset in it, and refold all the charts properly and sort them all back neatly in the racks where they can be reached for the next flight. When I'm travelling with an airplane, a lot of garbage ends up in locker where I store cleaning supplies. That's because I'll be preflighting, open that locker to get out a cloth and 210 spray (a type of plastic polish for airplane windshields), clean the windows, and toss the spray bottle and used wipe back in. Then I'll check the oil, get out a funnel and a couple of litres of oil. They're actually 946 mL, a quarter of a US gallon: that's the standard size all over North America, and it looks like even in Europe, maybe because the crankcases on American-made airplanes hold an even number of US quarts. Anyway, we call them litres, even though they aren't. I'll add the required oil, then when I get tired of waiting for the last drips to come out of the bottle into the crankcase, I put the lid back on the bottle tightly, and toss the bottle in the locker with the funnel and the other empties. Empty bottles don't weight much and the home airport has some kind of environmental disposal for them, so rather than run around a strange apron looking for a FOD bin, I haul them all home.

As I do so, I'm always amused by the way the bulging and squashed sides of the various bottles tell the story of the trip. Putting the cap on tightly seals in those few millilitres that didn't drip out while the bottle was inverted over the crankcase, but mostly what it seals in is air. Air at the pressure of the aerodrome where I added the oil. If it's a sea level airport, the sides of the bottle bulge out at higher elevations. If it's a mountain airport, pressure at a lower elevation crushes the bottle. I'm easily amused.

I clean things up best I can, report the minor snags (right engine has almost double the oil consumption to the left, noticeable split in the throttles to maintain equal manifold pressure above 10,000', and some hydraulic seepage). Then I am "released" from call for a few days. This will give me time to get my camera repaired, take my friend's kids to the amusement park as I've been promising for so long, and do my laundry.

Back soon with clean underwear!


On the subject of this stun gun, it's interesting to see that the seatback pockets are the same security hole for JetBlue as they were for Victory Airways. Whenever we'd boarded with something that wouldn't get through security, but we were going south, we'd pop it in the seatback pocket, get off and go through security and have it waiting for us back on board. CATSA never swept the airplane itself.


Cedarglen said...

As always, great posts!! I guess you've got a few days off, finally - so enjoy. Of note:
I still do not know what airplane you fly, but it must be a bit on the old side. Breathing tube, not a mask? An extended period with an inop heater, at FL200 and above? Just sorry to hear it. Maybe they will fix a few things while you are on a break. We'll hope. Your 'operator' partner sounds like a good fellow and a genuine asset to the program. I hope that you get along OK on the ground.
In the end, the blog and the posts are great reading and it is FUN tp follow your progress through the many steps of this engagement, the fun and the not so fun. It is good PIC time, apparently a lot of it, and encountering countless PIC-type decisions that you would not otherwise see. Damn good experience, I do say. I hope that they are paying you on time. And...
Best wishes,

Frank Van Haste said...

G'day, Trix:

Thanks for the point-out to 210 Spray. I've been using Lemon Pledge for years, but happy to learn of something new. I ordered a can and will have a go with it. 'Tis bug-smashing season down here...



Mk88A said...

Regarding the quarts back here in Europe (Germany actaully)...

it's funny because it never occured to me as an oddity. The aircraft and engine manuals are often in English and when they're not they are directly translated from English into German. Even the dipsticks still have the same "quarts" markings (no litre markings). The other funny thing is that nobody really cares over here. The first question is allways: "Quarts?! What is a quart?! I don't get it". The answer is somewhere along the line of: "It's something American. I don't really know. But that's what they use. And it's on the bottle, too. I top it off to 6 quarts and you should keep an eye on it that it remains around 6 to 5 quarts". And that's it. Nobod really thinks about it to be honest. You just accept that it is a sort of measurement used by the engine manufacturer and that you should stay within limits.

And as always: I apologize for strange spelling and even stranger English.

Best wishes from Germany,


Aviatrix said...

Mk88A: Yours is a pretty good response to any of the questions I get about why we use inches of mercury, altitude and runway length in feet, or fuel consumption in gallons. I don't really know "feet" in general, but I know what to expect on a runway that is 50' wide, and I know that what ever the units are I can divide my tank capacity by my fuel flow in gallons per hour to determine when I should switch tanks.