Retraining last week: I had intended to do an entire blog around a client I had last week. He had failed his check-ride while I was on vacation and I had the opportunity to re-train him and get him through it. I was his instructor in the morning and his co-pilot for the check-ride later in the day. It was a long day for him and the training was intense.

The purpose of the intended blog was to discuss the kind of support I should give during an event like this. It is not the first time I provided solid support, but also moral support during the ride. One example would be giving clear direction like ‘Climb! Climb! Climb to 3000′ RIGHT NOW; Turn right to 360; Bank Angle! 30 degrees please!’. Those comments pronounced in a strong voice at the right time have saved the day more than once. I justify my actions because that is exactly what I’d do in the actual jet, and be ready to take the controls as well. I never do the later in the sim since that might prompt a failure.

I came to the conclusion that his previous failure would not have happed had he had strong right seat support. In my opinion, this client thought he was good enough to pull a long retired friend out of retirement and teach him while learning this new jet at the same time. I helped convince him that this simply wasn’t the case, and wasn’t a good idea. This client is the one that needed support while learning the jet. He was competent, but needed support while he learned. That meant a strong right seat, and that meant that his friend would have to wait.

Anyway – too much time has passed to remember other interesting details, but I can say that I went home with a deep sense of satisfaction and he went home with a type rating. He had a great attitude and left with a better understanding of where he stood on the experience and proficiency ladder.

Susquehanna Motorcycle Ride: On Friday of last week, my friend Vince and I paired up and rode our motorcycles up the east side of the Susquehanna through every twisty road we could find. Neither Vince nor I generally ride with anyone else, but agreed to sync our schedules for this ride. The views were amazing and Vince led the way for the two of us. His pace was definitely more casual than mine typically is, but I enjoyed it very much. After lunch, we crossed the river and came down the west side.  It was a full day of riding, and one that I hope to repeat soon.

Update on our next ride. We tried to find a common date twice already, and Vince called last night to try again. Between his social schedule and vacation and my work schedule and G280 training, we have a few weeks to fit one or two rides in by mid to late July. I’m starting to remember why I ride alone.

Tuesday was Aircraft Maintenance Day. N833DF was back to PhillAir at 33N for oil change, engine inspections, AD updates, and a few minor squawks. My original plan was to help Paul with the work he was doing, but he already has Ralph helping him. Good thing too, because I watched these guys work and I wouldn’t have been much help. Phil knows the airplane type and my particular airplane, and Ralph is meticulous in his work. I was very pleased with how they cared for my airplane. Very pleased.

I made it clear that the engines have never ever started this smoothly. Please don’t change that. Either the settings are just right, or I’ve finally figured out a starting method that works in all conditions. Whatever the case – be careful what you change about that. I love the way things are working now. My squawk list going included:

1. Battery Charger: The motorcycle battery LOVES its trickle charger, and I want one for my airplane. Confirm connections required, battery type, and order battery charger for my hangar. COMPLETE.  I ordered the correct charger from Aircraft Spruce, and Paul will install it on the next oil change visit. The motorcycle connector will be in the nose wheel well, so it isn’t the most convenient connection, but that will do.
2. AD Compliance: I have repetitive airworthiness directives to be accomplished every 50 flight hours. I time them with an oil change, and those are COMPLETE.
3. Engine Maintenance: I’ve been very focused on what to do with my engines in the long term. I have two or three trusted resources that believe I should replace the engines right away, and five or so that recommend replace on condition. I’m ready to do either, but if I’m going to do engines, I want the work done while I’m doing all this training.

For today, we are doing a third inspection within the 50 hour return to flight to ensure the engines are in good shape after sitting for two years. Here is what I’ve done:
– Collect Oil for analysis and send it in. COMPLETE. This is the first time I’ve ever bothered with having the oil analyzed, and I plan to make this routine now.
– Compression check each cylinder: all were squarely in the 70’s and doing well.
– Clean plugs (as per your normal procedures): didn’t have to this time. They were all clean and properly gapped, since I only had 17 hours on the oil since the last inspection. I know I am being anal retentive, but maintenance is cheap compared to flight incident. DEFERRED
– Bore scope each cylinder: Paul purchased a new bore scope, but was unable to make it work with an iPhone. He’ll have to bore scope next time. DEFERRED
– Oil Filter Inspection: No metal – looking good. COMPLETE
– Visual Inspection: COMPLETE. Engine was clean, if not a little dusty.
4. Lubricate Left engine mixture control (binding). Consider lubricating all of the cables. Paul and Ralph lubricated the cable with a can of ‘pink stuff’ that is no longer available. COMPLETE. I could tell it made a difference immediately, and it continued to improve during the ride home and shutdown.
5. Adjust left mixture controls. I was not getting full travel or equal fuel flow on takeoff as a result of the binding. Control levers are not in sync.They confirmed what I already knew, that the left mixture control was not achieving full travel. During their inspection, the control arm on the left engine mixture control snapped off. Ralph and Paul replaced it, and kept moving.
6. Nose cowl 1/4 turn screw repair. Fix or replace those that won’t latch. I went in thinking this was the easiest thing to fix, but it ended up being the most challenging. Paul drilled out rivets and installed back plates. He recommended removing all of the quarter turn screws and replacing them with back plates and screws. Today we did six of those, and the rest will be done at the next oil change. COMPLETE
7. Heater tripped but reset. Is there a simple check we can do to ensure that second fan you talked about is working? Obviously not a rush, I used defrost the other day and it worked. Paul verified that the heater is in working order. COMPLETE
8. Missing screw pilots side ball vent: Replaced. COMPLETE
9. Evaluate panel. I’d really like a 790 in there at the annual. Paul and I talked it over and determined that I’d really have to change the panel around to fit in the 790. I just don’t want to change my panel at this point – it really works for me. Instead I’ll install the 760 engine analyzer. It has the same functions, but isn’t as snazzy. I spend my time in the lobby researching this and ordering the battery charger. COMPLETE
10. Evaluate left flap play. COMPLETE. There is more play there, but nothing to be concerned about. I’ll have him check the rollers and see if we can’t tighten it up on annual. COMPLETE
11. Small areas on leading edges need IMRON touch up. Is that something you can do at the annual? DEFERRED. I’ll probably get touch up paint from the paint shop, or just get them to do it next year.

Throughout the day we saw various local pilots on the field come through to say hello. All of them complimented me on my airplane, and that certainly felt good. Both mechanics treated the aircraft very well, and I watch Ralph clean all the fingerprints off and make the aircraft shine. He told me he appreciated working on a clean airplane, but did tell me the aft belly needed to be cleaned. I’ll make a special effort to keep her clean going forward. It’s really looking sharp at the moment.

Logistics are a bitch when your wife and best friend can’t leave the house. I am reluctant to rely on friends to drop me off and pick me up, since this is really a long term issue. I decided to wait for the airplane all day, which did put some pressure on Paul. I’ll work to avoid that next time, and suck it up on the transportation side.

At one point in the day, it looked like repairing the nose bonnet screws would keep the work from getting done. I had arranged an ’emergency’ ride with my brother in-law and started him driving to get me. After only 15 minutes, Paul had knocked out two of the six nut plates, so we decided to turn Tony around as I’d be able to fly home. I was incredibly happy with that.

Life is good. The airplane is all ready for prop balancing on Thursday and 50 hours of run time.

Fly Safe!


By fdorrin

Recently rated Gulfstream 280 pilot, working on instructor qualifications. WestWind and Astra corporate jet flight instructor. Contract corporate pilot. Own and operate a PA30 Twin Comanche. CFII; MEI; ME-ATP; SES; Typed in DHC-8, B-25, IAI-1124, IAI1125, G100, G280. Retired engineer / executive - Delmarva Power, Conectiv Energy, and PEPCO Holdings, Inc.