There are a few things that engineers mostly agree on. The three laws of thermodynamics, the law of conservation of energy and gravity. They also agree that Lt Cmdr Montgomery Scott pretty much ruined engineers for life on Star Trek, as he would report to Kirk that it would take weeks to repair the Enterprise, and then when the Captain shouted “You have 20 minutes!”, he would simply go “Okay” and manage to save the day. I cannot tell you how many plant managers I have met that have felt that raising the volume of an unreasonable demand would result in Scotty’s “Okay” and they could go back to the corner office and dream of green women adoringly staring up at them in various stages of undress. Informing them that this wasn’t the Enterprise, I am not Scottish, and they sure as hell weren’t Capt Kirk did not seem to help matters any.  It would be finished when it was finished and while I could probably tell them a probable date, it would depend on other people doing their job too, people who I had no control over. So there was always some margin of error in the estimate, and I would typically pad the estimate with 10% for unexpected delays and 10% more for unexpected, unexpected, delays. Usually this came out about perfect, or gave me a bit of room to be a hero.

I have been dealing with a aircraft detail and paint touchup crew lately. They are based on my field and I have been having them do a clean and polish of the plane for about a year. I then had them do a bit of paint touchup, and some sort of paint coating for protection. The results weren’t bad, but they missed the delivery date by a week, without telling me. This caused me to miss a flight after heading up to the airport. Many apologies and free cleanings later, I decided to give them another go with carpet and some interior work, along with doing some paint work on an area that they hadn’t had access to the first time. I impressed on them that I would need the plane back when they said it would be done. Once again, they missed the date. When it got to the revised time that it was supposed to be done, they brought it over at the end of the day. Like with shipping, getting a package at 5pm doesn’t qualify as getting it “that day”.  Having the airplane show up at 5-6pm in the hangar doesn’t do much unless I am willing to do a test flight at night. So, got the airplane back on a Monday, and then it rained all week. Friday, my instrument instructor came up with his airplane (or his employer’s aircraft) and we talked about going up while the aircraft was being worked on. Decided not to as 1) ceilings were persisting in staying quite low, and 2) my plane hadn’t been flown after getting it back, and breaking into 400′ ceilings as you discover you have some sort of airframe or instrumentation issue caused by the work is not often survivable. Being cautious (and still alive) pilots, we decided to wait for a day either better in conditions or (more likely) after I had flown the aircraft in visual conditions. Today was a perfect day, little wind, few clouds. I pulled the plane out after a thorough preflight, and got in to start boring holes in the sky as a Jr Aviator, only to find the pilot’s seat stuck at the full aft position.

I don’t think they are going to get a recommendation from me….