I spent the whole day at the airport today, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., minus a couple errands. I have never done that before. My day started much earlier, at 5 a.m., when I finished planning a sample cross-country flight from Dubuque to Memphis. Then I began my commercial checkride with the FAA examiner at 8:00. After two hours of questioning, the examiner was satisfied that I passed the oral. The weather wasn’t good enough to do the whole flight portion. I decided to wait a few hours and hope it would change. I spent most of that time hanging around UD Flight Ops. After lunch, I got a call from my friend Thom at Cirrus that he would be on his way to Dubuque soon. The Cirrus “mobile showroom” and a few planes will be on display tomorrow. The truck was already here being set up. The weather wasn’t improving much so I called the FAA examiner to reschedule my flight for Thursday morning.
I went to the FBO to wait for Thom. There, I passed the time by talking to the line service employees I knew, and watching business planes and pilots come and go. When Thom arrived, I said hello for a while and then let him get to work. Then I spent quite a while at the maintenance place talking to the employees there. (I put in an application a while ago, too.) I also talked to the driver of the Cirrus semi a lot. When I hung out with Thom again, I got to climb around on the roof of the big truck and watch him install an antenna to receive XM satellite weather on the Avidyne display inside. It took a while, but when it was done and it worked… oh boy. Drool. Slobber… Ahem… well, it was awesome. Not only can you see radar on your multifunction display, but you can see the outlines of temporary flight restrictions (TFRs), AIRMETs, and SIGMETs. You can also see text weather.
It’s been a while since I have seen the latest and greatest at Cirrus, and Thom told me about even more things that the company is working on. I sat in the cockpit mock-up and recalled the flights I have taken in Cirrus SR22s as they evolved. I have always been interested in working for the company, especially after Thom started working there and could tell me what it’s like. Something about those airplanes and that place makes me dream.
I saw a possible life unfold in front of me within a day. I spent the morning working on earning my commercial pilot certificate. I spent the afternoon talking to flight instructors, line service employees, mechanics, freight pilots, corporate pilots, and someone who flies Cirrus airplanes all over the country. Suddenly I have a clear reminder of who I am and where I want to go.