I got an email from me mate.. best if you read it and see if you can help.
Subject: Australian Flight Review
I am writing to you because I need your help to get me bloody pilot's
license back. You keep telling me you got all the right contacts.
Well, nows your chance to make something happen for me because, mate,
I'm bloody desperate. But first, I'd better tell you what happened
during my last flight review with the CAA Examiner
On the phone, Ron (that's the CAA d*#"head) seemed a reasonable sort
of a bloke. He politely reminded me of the need to do a flight review
every two years. He even offered to drive out, have a look over my
property and let me operate from my own strip. Naturally I agreed to
Anyway, Ron turned up last Wednesday. First up, he said he was a bit
surprised to see the plane on a small strip outside my homestead,
because the ALA (Authorized Landing Area) is about a mile away. I
explained that because this strip was so close to the homestead, it
was more convenient than the ALA, and despite the power lines crossing
about midway down the strip, it's really not a problem to land and
take-off, because at the halfway point down the strip you're usually
still on the ground.
For some reason Ron seemed nervous. So, although I had done the pre-
flight inspection only four days earlier, I decided to do it all over
again. Because the bloke was watching me carefully, I walked around
the plane three times instead of my usual two. My effort was rewarded
because the colour finally returned to Ron's cheeks. In fact, they
went a bright red. In view of Ron's obviously better mood, I told him
I was going to combine the test flight with some farm work,
as I had to deliver three poddy calves from the home paddock to the
After a bit of a chase I finally caught the calves and threw them into
the back of the ol' Cessna 172. We climbed aboard, but Ron started
getting onto me about weight and balance calculations and all that
crap. Of course I knew that sort of thing was a waste of time because,
calves like to move around a bit particularly when they see themselves
500 feet off the ground! So, it's bloody pointless trying to secure
them as you know. However, I did tell Ron that he shouldn't worry as
I always keep the trim wheel set on neutral to ensure we remain pretty
stable at all stages throughout the flight.
Anyway, I started the engine and cleverly minimized the warm-up time
by tramping hard on the brakes and gunning her to 2,500 rpm. I then
discovered that Ron has very acute hearing, even though he was wearing
a bloody headset. Through all that noise he detected a metallic rattle
and demanded I account for it. Actually it began about a month ago and
was caused by a screwdriver that fell down a hole in the floor and
lodged in the fuel selector mechanism. The selector can't be moved
now, but it doesn't matter because it's jammed on `All tanks', so I
suppose that's Okay.
However, as Ron was obviously a nit-picker, I blamed the noise on
vibration from a stainless steel thermos flask which I keep in a beaut
little possie between the windshield and the magnetic compass. My
explanation seemed to relax Ron, because he slumped back in the seat
and kept looking up at the cockpit roof. I released the brakes to taxi
out, but unfortunately the plane gave a leap and spun to the right.
"Hell" I thought, "not the starboard wheel chock again". The bump
jolted Ron back to full alertness. He looked around just in time to
see a rock thrown by the prop-wash disappear completely through the
windscreen of his brand new Commodore. "Now I'm really in trouble", I
While Ron was busy ranting about his car, I ignored his requirement
that we taxi to the ALA, and instead took off under the power lines.
Ron didn't say a word, at least not until the engine started coughing
right at the lift off point, and then he bloody screamed his head off.
"Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!"
"Now take it easy, Ron" I told him firmly. "That often happens on take-
off and there is a good reason for it". I explained patiently that I
usually run the plane on standard MOGAS, but one day I accidentally
put in a gallon or two of kerosene. To compensate for the low octane
of the kerosene, I siphoned in a few gallons of super MOGAS and shook
the wings up and down a few times to mix it up. Since then, the engine
has been coughing a bit but in general it works just fine, if you know
how to coax it properly.
Anyway, at this stage Ron seemed to lose all interest in my test
flight. He pulled out some rosary beads, closed his eyes and became
lost in prayer. (I didn't think anyone was a Catholic these days). I
selected some nice music on the HF radio to help him relax. Meanwhile,
I climbed to my normal cruising altitude of 10,500 feet. I don't
normally put in a flight plan or get the weather because, as you know
getting FAX access out here is a friggin' joke and the weather is
always 8/8 blue anyway. But since I had that near miss with a Saab
340, I might have to change me thinking on that.
Anyhow, on leveling out, I noticed some wild camels heading into my
improved pasture. I hate bloody camels, and always carry a loaded 303
clipped inside the door of the Cessna just in case I see any of the
bastards. We were too high to hit them, but as a matter of principle,
I decided to have a go through the open window. Mate, when I pulled
the bloody rifle out, the effect on Ron was friggin' electric. As I
fired the first shot his neck lengthened by about six inches and his
eyes bulged like a rabbit with myxo. He really looked as if he had
been jabbed with an electric cattle prod on full power. In fact, Ron's
reaction was so distracting that I lost concentration for a second and
the next shot went straight through the port tyre. Ron was a bit upset
about the shooting (probably one of those pinko animal lovers I guess)
so I decided not to tell him about our little problem with the tyre.
Shortly afterwards I located the main herd and decided to do my
fighter pilot trick. Ron had gone back to praying when, in one smooth
sequence, I pulled on full flaps, cut the power and started a sideslip
from 10,500 feet down to 500 feet at 130 knots indicated (the last
time I looked anyway) and the little needle rushed up to the red area
on me ASI. What a buzz, mate! About half way through the descent I
looked back in the cabin to see the calves gracefully suspended in mid
air and mooing like crazy. I was going to comment on this unusual
Ron looked a bit green and had rolled himself into the fetal position
and was screamin' his freakin' head off. Mate, talk about being in a
You should've been there, it was so bloody funny!
At about 500 feet I leveled out, but for some reason we kept sinking.
When we reached 50 feet I applied full power but nothin' happened. No
noise no nothin'. Then, luckily, I heard me instructor's voice in me
head saying "carb heat, carb heat". So I pulled carb heat on and that
helped quite a lot, with the engine finally regaining full power.
Whew, that was really close, let me tell you!
Then mate, you'll never guess what happened next! As luck would have
it, at that height we flew into a massive dust cloud caused by the
cattle and suddenly went I.F. bloody R, mate. BJ, you would have been
really proud of me as I didn't panic once, not once, but I did make a
mental note to consider an instrument rating as soon as me gyro is
repaired (something I've been meaning to do for a while now). Suddenly
Ron's elongated neck and bulging eyes reappeared. His Mouth opened
wide, very wide, but no sound emerged. "Take it easy," I told him,
"we'll be out of this in a minute".
Sure enough, about a minute later we emerged, still straight and level
and still at 50 feet. Admittedly I was surprised to notice that we
were upside down, and I kept thinking to myself, "I hope Ron didn't
notice that I had forgotten to set the QNH when we were taxiing". This
minor tribulation forced me to fly to a nearby valley in which I had
to do a half roll to get upright again. By now the main herd had
divided into two groups leaving a narrow strip between them. "Ah!" I
thought, "there's an omen. We'll land right there."
Knowing that the tyre problem demanded a slow approach, I flew a
couple of steep turns with full flap. Soon the stall warning horn was
blaring so loud in me ear that I cut it's circuit breaker to shut it
up, but by then I knew we were slow enough anyway. I turned steeply
onto a 75 foot final and put her down with a real thud. Strangely
enough, I had always thought you could only ground loop in a tail
dragger but, as usual, I was proved wrong again! Halfway through our
Ron at last recovered his sense of humor. Talk about laugh. I've never
seen the likes of it. He couldn't stop. We finally rolled to a halt
and I released the calves, who bolted out of the aircraft like there
was no tomorrow. I then began picking clumps of dry grass. Between gut
wrenching fits of laughter, Ron asked what I was doing. I explained
that we had to stuff the port tyre with grass so we could fly back to
the homestead. It was then that Ron really lost the plot and started
running away from the aircraft. Can you believe it? The last time I
saw him he was off into the distance, arms flailing in the air and
still shrieking with laughter. I later heard that he had been confined
to a psychiatric institution - poor bugger!
Anyhow mate, that's enough about Ron. The problem is I got this letter
from CASA withdrawing, as they put it, my privileges to fly; until I
have undergone a complete pilot training course again and undertaken
another flight proficiency test.
Now I admit that I made a mistake in taxiing over the wheel chock and
not setting the QNH using strip elevation, but I can't see what else I
did that was a so bloody bad that they have to withdraw me flamin'
Ralph H Bell, Mud Creek Plantation
A straight line is the shortest distance between two points.
A smile is the shortest distance between two people.
The government I trust .. is my .45-70 Government.
Do - Not try!