Monday, March 19, 2007

Three cats

No, this has nothing to do with a companion for Hank and Grace. In a roundabout way, the lead-in has to do with Hank.

He's hilarious when he finishes with his business in the litter box. He'll paw the floor, wall, side of the litter box to cover his poop - perhaps one time in 10 tries he'll actually hit kitty litter.

We could never figure out why he was doing this, so I was resolved to find some sort of answer. I managed to find this explanation on Purina's Catchow.com. Figuring I would never remember to tell her on what promises to be a busy Monday, I e-mailed the link.

When I opened my inbox, I rather unexpectedly found an e-mail waiting for me. It's one I've been waiting for.

Since I came to United Virtual with more than 100 hours from UPSVAC, I was eligible to skip the normal time requirements and immediately fly a checkride for bigger aircraft. I flew a fair number of flights in the turboprops anyway, all while trying to better acclimate myself with Flight Simulator.

I made an initial stab at my checkride a few months ago, but was unsuccessful for various reasons - I mistakenly listened to the AI air traffic control, which is nothing like real-world ATC. That put me in some situations that are way off of UVA's standard procedures, and thus were justifiable reasons to fail me.

Then my own real world got in the way, with the hectic days that come from mid-February to late March. Still, I was able to re-try my checkride. And this was the message that greeted me:
This flight looked very nice. You have done a nice job of practicing and preparing. The only thing I would suggest is practicing the ILS approaches a bit hand flying them. It is possible to use the FLIGHT DIRECTOR, and fly and entire pattern without ever touching the autopilot and having it turn out looking like it was. Please allow approximately 72 hours for you promotion to be processed before you will see the upgrade to your pilot center. Welcome to the big iron.
So now, I'm happy to report that I can now fly all of the regional jets, 737s and the Airbus A-319/320 class. I'm a Category 3 virtual pilot.

(For those of you wondering, if this post wasn't enough for you, an ILS approach is a full-instrument approach; ILS stands for instrument landing system. Though the Wiki refers to Category III approach, that's got nothing to do with my rating. And flight director is a notch below autopilot; with FD, you're still hand-flying the plane, it's just that the onboard computers tell you how hard to bank, how high your nose should be, etc.)

The actual e-mail was considerably longer, with point-by-point observations on taxiing, takeoff, climb, cruise, descent and approach. But I'll save you the boredom of reading through all of that.

What matters, after all, is the last sentence. Three cats.

3 comments:

ME said...

Just to clarify, three cats refers to your pilot status, not a new playmate for H & G.

Congrats on the promotion! Keep us updated on your first flight.

BTW, we went to the New England Air Museum yesterday for open cockpit day. Thought of you the whole time. They pipe in what I beleive to be live ATC sounds from Bradley, which is a driver & PW away from the museum. Got a nice pic of a plane landing.

Brian said...

Probably was Bradley. If they were issuing takeoff/landing clearances, you heard the tower. If not, it was probably approach/departure control. And if you liked the museum there, plan a trip to Udvar-Hazy Center.

And yes, three cats refers to the status, not any real cats. I stole the phrase from the pilot over at Flight Level 390 - http://flightlevel390.blogspot.com/2006/11/goose-hunting.html - though his use of it wasn't quite the same as mine.

ME said...

Sniff, sniff. I miss the Hot 3B.