Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tell Me Something I Need to Know

When I was a student pilot I bought a trifold kneeboard. It consisted of a small metal clipboard inside a sturdy nylon array of pockets that could open out to cover slightly more than my lap, with a velcro strap to hold it on my leg. We almost all bought that thing. I know there were a few hardy students that made do with ordinary clipboards, or who made their own, but in general we thought this piece of technology would increase our ability to juggle map and nav log, pens and E6B, so we paid the money and strapped it on our knee.

I never quite figured out what to do with the black nylon pockets, so eventually I reduced it to the metal clipboard. As well as holding my operational flight plan and my weight and balance forms for me, it has some cheat sheet type information printed on it. There's an RVR to statute miles conversion chart, alternate airport rules, position report items, VFR cruising orders, standard holding pattern entries, components of a PIREP, required and recommended IFR reports, transponder codes, a Celsius/Fahrenheit conversion chart and a flight plan form. Problem is that the most of those items are either things that I know well enough to not need to look up, never have to look up, or are given for USA requirements only. I laminated (with packing tape) some Canadian information onto the back. That has long since worn away, and most of what I need to know has probably changed. And now the clip on the clipboard has finally worn out, leaving my papers attached with a big binder clip.

I ordered a new clipboard, and it has arrived, but I discovered to my chagrin that I seem to have a sentimental attachment to the old one. It's battered and bent and scratched. It was there on my lap when I did my first solo cross country, and had a stuck mike while I coached myself down final. It has gone to all the corners of the continent. I think it has been used as a pry tool and a hammer. The velcro strap is stretched and fuzzy. (But I notice that the velcro on the new one doesn't go far enough around the strap. When I put it on securely the hooks will not have many loops to mesh with). The new one is on my desk at work. The old one is in the field with me. Maybe it's just that I don't want to sort through all the papers on it to transfer them to a clipboard that doesn't hold as much as the big old binder clip.

By way of encouragement to use the new one I'm going to make up a new Canadian cheat sheet, with the flight plan form, company phone numbers, the changeover altitude between squawking 1000 and 2000 for uncontrolled IFR, and maybe some things out the CAP GEN that I keep having to look up.


Sarah said...

I can see why one would need reminders on how to fill out all those codes on the ICAO flight plan. Being a parochial amateur American I have a much shorter form.

My favorite feature ( other than the French lesson ) is the more angular "worm" font they use for the title.

Showerthought: Canada is 50% a, eh?

Aviatrix said...

You know what? I never really noticed the form had both languages on it. I literally had to pull out one of my forms to double check that it was the same. French is just so ubiquitous here that I must simply see it as a fairly verbose form. I more notice the lack of French when I'm in the US. The labels on food at the grocery store look so big and stark with only one language on them.

Patrick C Ryan MD said...

I have a 1960's version of a clipboard that my father used when he learned to fly in Canada and 1965. Are used a few times but then bought my own. I can totally identify with keeping the old one. I still use the one that I used on my first solo cross-country too. Kudos to you for keeping the old stuff and being sentimental! I tried using one of those iPad clipboard the thingys and found it just easier to put on my lap but being in turbulence can be a problem.

Sarah said...

I can see becoming used to seeing dual language documents. In a few years, we'll probably be seeing more Spanish/English in the US.

LocalFlightEast said...

I hate my kneeboard, does that make me a bad student? One of the joys of solo flying is that I stick it on my instructors seat!

Anonymous said...

IMO, funny, but oh so common. We each develop our own habits (quirks) about what information we want close at hand - and that we actually need, after years of practical experience. When I began practicing my own profession (lots of) years ago, my pockets were stuffed with essentials. Time, experience and more learning reduced that to one or two heavily laminated cards that served me well. What was on them? My own guides to a few complex calculations that did not fit into my natural grey matter. The odd note about a couple of critical but rarely encountered conflicts and a few odd names and telephone numbers that were site-specific.
Your old knee box is a trusted friend, carefully adapted to your needs and personal methods. The new one will get there and it does not have to happen before the first use. Suggestion: For a while, take both with you, obviously using only one. Make a few notes and consider improvements, SLOWLY. You'll get there. Eventually that new thigh board or whatever will become your best friend. Be patient.

Aviatrix said...

I think you misunderstand. There is nothing of any use to me on the only kneeboard, save the papers clipped to it. The cheat sheets that were once laminated to it have long worn away. The only advantage of the old one is that the elastic has velcro further along its length and the velcro can be transferred to the new one almost as easily as the clipped papers.

But the new one is still on my desk and the old one is still in my flight bag.