I was foiled in my attempt to get a check ride in a 172 today by a need to be at work. The itch to fly was exacerbated by Colin having a flight lesson in Irvine in the Diamond DA40. When I woke up a beautiful solution popped into my head: I would go ride the back seat in the DA40 all morning while Colin did landings. This would teach me the DA40, it would let me watch the Garmin 1000 perform its miracles, and I would be up off the ground looking for new airports. A good morning followed by an afternoon of work.
Things did not start auspiciously. I took Sharalyn to work and as I got near John Wayne (SNA) I called Colin to find that he had not yet passed Redondo Beach. Without a car pool buddy he was getting to SNA late. Bummer. I wandered into Sunrise Aviation and asked a taciturn fellow in a cubicle if I could ride along on Colin’s lesson and also, by the way, Colin would be late. No problem. Waiting in the lobby of Sunrise I see a woman who must be the instructor Colin will ride with. I introduce myself, get further permission to come along and then give her Colin’s background. She is Japanese and though she speaks with a serious accent she seems to understand what I am saying. Colin arrives and she repeats the background… four and half hours in the DA40, over six with the Garmin 1000, did the Garmin 1000 Sporty’s course. Let’s go fly!
Nope. There will be no flying. We sit and fill out forms. We get a long and probably quite necessary briefing on the airport. We are told to do some homework regarding the DA40. We then trundle off for the Garmin 1000 checkout. It is a joke. The instructor has no quiz plan and she does not know the simulator as well as Colin does. She knows it a little better than I do and I have never used it. This takes forty minutes. It’s painful. Then she decides it is a good idea to give us a lesson on constant speed props. Colin knows little or nothing about the damn things in spite of having flown them. As far as I can tell he regards the whole phenomenon as a needless complicaiton that he will have to put up with on any decent airplane. Our instructor brings Colin up to speed a bit on mixture, throttle and pitch control but then tries to wander off into how a hydraulic constant speed hub works. This is a disaster. I finally explain it to both of them. We have been there nearly two hours.
We learn the billing system prior to checking out the airplane. The instructor uses it to print an invoice for the ground school she has just conducted. There. We are done. How would you like to pay? What? What? No flying? No, no, so sorry, next time book two hours and we will go for a flight. Crap. My entire morning spent in a useless excercise designed to transfer a hundred dollars from Colin’s pocket to Mike Church’s pocket. What utter crap. Apparently this highly rated instructor makes his money by completely ignoring the qualifications and experience of the customer, matching them with an inappropriate instructor he happens to have on hand and then asking them to return for further punishment. I do believe Church would rent us a DA40 after five hours of instruction. The killer is that it would include about an hour of actual flying. The operation sucks.
It sucks worse that Colin’s reaction was to call the Diamond salesman and extort a flight out of him after lunch. So, Colin is getting a nice flight and now I am getting to work. Grrrrrrr.