Monday, August 15, 2005

He's from the FAA, and he might be here to help me

DC and I headed off to Richmond International, and visited the FSDO (building on the far left in this photo) this morning. The weather was good, so we flew. We met with the head honcho himself at that office, and after he photocopied all our logbooks, certificates, medicals, aircraft documents and such, we ended up having about a half-hour chat with him. He expressed the opinion that a lot of the sport planes on the market are just not safe. There isn't enough oversight to make sure they are manufactured properly, and so many of them come from overseas, where you could never sue them, if they made something defective.

So we left that conversation rather encouraged, since the head of the FAA office that will be dealing with this, seems to be agreeing with us. After that was over, he came out and took a look at the Diamond we flew in, and made some small talk.

At that point, it was only 11am, and we decided there was no rush to get home. What better than to get some lunch along the way? So we jumped in and made the quick 12 mile hop to Chesterfield, where they have a very nice buffet for only $6.30 (including drink and tax). Can't beat that.

For that leg, the taxi time was longer than the flight. It happens sometimes at bigger airports, if you hit them at the wrong time. After 15 minutes, we had made it all the way from parking to halfway to the correct end of runway 2. I suggested to the controller that we would be happy to take an intersection departure, and he seemed happy to give it to us. We took off with only 2,000 feet of runway in front of us, but it saved at least ten minutes.

The return home after lunch involved dodging a lot of clouds, but it was not a big deal, and we entered the pattern back home after about 45 minutes. We did several touch & go's, then called it a day.

DC is still struggling with relearning the original plane he got to know during his training. Some side effects of flying a plane so squirrely, included his tendency to be overly concerned about the rudder. (I'm of the opinion that rudder is the most important, and least understood part of flying, but that CT was a lot to handle there. More than should be the case). He has also developed the tendency to make the last 50 feet down too much like short-field technique, when it isn't necessary. Not generally a problem, except that it comes not from intent, but from unintentional slowing on short final, and a lack of feel of the flare. So we worked on that in the pattern here.

This afternoon, I got a call from the NTSB investigator assigned to us. He had sent me a report form last week, and I had not finished it yet, so he asked me to fax it. We got to talking, because he was still not aware of some of the details. Apparently, the FAA investigator in Nashville didn't give him anything to work with. No report, no pilot narrative, nothing.

So I gave him a brief synopsis of the crash, and explained how the initial investigator's report differs significantly from mine. This guy seemed prone to accepting that the FAA's initial report might be completely wrong, and mine right.

Again, more good signs.


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