Aviation Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, and out on the ramp,
Not an airplane was stirring, not even a Champ.
The aircraft were fastened to tiedowns with care,
In hopes that come morning, they all would be there.
The fuel trucks were nestled, all snug in their spots,
With gusts from two-forty at 39 knots.

I slumped at the fuel desk, now finally caught up,
And settled down comfortably, resting my butt.
When the radio lit up with noise and with chatter,
I turned up the scanner to see what was the matter.
A voice clearly heard over static and snow,
Called for clearance to land at the airport below.

He barked his transmission so lively and quick,
I’d have sworn that the call sign he used was “St. Nick”.
I ran to the panel to turn up the lights,
The better to welcome this magical flight.
He called his position, no room for denial,
“St. Nicholas One, turnin’ left onto final.”

And what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a Rutan-built sleigh, with eight Rotax Reindeer!
With vectors to final, down the glideslope he came,
As he passed all fixes, he called them by name:
“Now Ringo! Now Tolga! Now Trini and Bacun!
On Comet! On Cupid!” What pills was he takin’?

While controllers were sittin’, and scratchin’ their head,
They phoned to my office, and I heard it with dread,
The message they left was both urgent and dour:
“When Santa pulls in, have him please call the tower.”
He landed like silk, with the sled runners sparking,
Then I heard “Left at Charlie,” and “Taxi to parking.”
He slowed to a taxi, turned off of three-oh
And stopped on the ramp with a “Ho, ho-ho-ho…”

He stepped out of the sleigh, but before he could talk,
I ran out to meet him with my best set of chocks.
His red helmet and goggles were covered with frost
And his beard was all blackened from Reindeer exhaust.
His breath smelled like peppermint, gone slightly stale,
And he puffed on a pipe, but he didn’t inhale.

His cheeks were all rosy and jiggled like jelly,
His boots were as black as a cropduster’s belly.
He was chubby and plump, in his suit of bright red,
And he asked me to “fill it, with hundred low-lead.”
He came dashing in from the snow-covered pump,
I knew he was anxious for draining’ the sump.

I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,
And I filled up the sleigh, but I spilled like a jerk.
He came out of the restroom, and sighed in relief,
Then he picked up a phone for a Flight Service brief.
And I thought as he silently scribed in his log,
These reindeer could land in an eighth-mile fog.

He completed his pre-flight, from the front to the rear,
Then he put on his headset, and I heard him yell, “Clear!”
And laying a finger on his push-to-talk,
He called up the tower for clearance and squawk.
“Take taxiway Charlie, the southbound direction,
Turn right three-two-zero at pilot’s discretion”

He sped down the runway, the best of the best,
“Your traffic’s a Grumman, inbound from the west.”
Then I heard him proclaim, as he climbed through the night,
“Merry Christmas to all! I have traffic in sight.”

No credit claimed for this…on the web for years; ideas?

FAA Wings For You!

FAA Wings is a very useful program for fulfilling your pilot currency requirements and also feeds your “alpha pilot” need for personal achievement. I personally never do a flight review any more but stay constantly current with the FAA Wings Program. There is always a new challenge and a feeling of accomplishment. Unfortunately Wings is poorly understood and suffers from “design by committee.” It is slow to load on the web but stick with me it is certainly worth the effort!

Why? Pilots are usually predictably “alpha performers.” They love a challenge, crave accomplishment and  feed on achievement (me too!) My wife used to joke when I successfully accomplished a new pilot certificate or rating; “how’s that new Boy Scout badge?” Wings provides a constant time line of accomplishment and also rewards you with constant re-education, flight proficiency (sharper, safer pilot), and also the benefit of 61.56 flight currency.

Let’s unpack the FAA Wings program and hopefully get you involved and excited about maintaining and tracking your currency. I just achieved my Level 3 Master Wings…that is my most recent “pelt on the wall” to satisfy my pilot need for accomplishment. Notice my “flight review” is not due for 25 months. Before that date I guarantee I will add another level through some seminars and flying (I do spend a lot of time flying).

Wings3MasterSummaryWingsCertificateMaster3

How does this program work? There is a whole manual available here but we will go through the basics. Three ground school events of your choosing need to be accomplished, then three flight events again chosen by you are accomplished and as a last step “validated” by your CFI. When you are done a Certificate pops up and this counts as a flight review! Easy. Here is mine:

WingsMaster3

The important point most people miss is that you choose the ground and flight modules you want to accomplish! Print them out before flight so your CFI knows what you are supposed to cover and have fun. There is no minimum time requirement! If you accomplish all three flight elements in an hour, you are done!

The interface for selecting the courses is a bit cumbersome. Here is a screen shot. Remember this website is SLOW. “Click and wait” is the rule for Wings!

WIngs_WorkSelection

Select your ground training on the top…this often is credit for attending an FAA Safety meeting (painless) or an AOPA training video you probably watch anyway. The flight elements are selected on the bottom and often can all be accomplished in an hour if you are proficient. Make sure to print out your  checklist before flight and bring it for your CFI so you can complete all the flight elements efficiently and get your endorsements in your logbook. The last step is “Request Credit” and you accomplish a level of FAA Wings (and renew your flight review!)   ©2015, David St. George