Monday, May 3, 2010

First Term of A&P is over

Yes, I think we've all heard the Wedge is still involved in aviation- with a flying canoe or somesuch.

Fitting, but not quite the inspiration for The Scream. Four paintings and prints in a series by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch ("I was walking along a path with two friends — the sun was setting — suddenly the sky turned blood red — I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence — there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city — my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety — and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature").

(Four eh? I always wondered why it seemed renditions varied. Guess Hollywood wasn't the first to invent sequels...).

"One theory advanced to account for the reddish sky in the background is that Munch had observed an effect of the powerful volcanic eruption of Krakatoa in 1883: the ash that was ejected from the volcano left the sky tinted red in much of eastern United States and most of Europe and Asia from the end of November 1883 to mid February 1884...Alternatively, it has been suggested that the proximity to the site of the painting of both a slaughterhouse and a madhouse may have offered inspiration.

"The scene was identified as being the view from a road overlooking Oslo, the Oslofjord and Hoved√łya, from the hill of Ekeberg. At the time of painting the work, Munch's manic depressive sister Laura Catherine was interned in the mental hospital at the foot of Ekeberg.

"In 1978, the Munch scholar Robert Rosenblum suggested that the strange, sexless creature in the foreground of the painting was probably inspired by a Peruvian mummy, which Munch could have seen at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris."

Hmmm. I would suggest an alternate explanation- the anguished figure just completed an Airframe and Powerplant General class.

For those curious- as I was for years- a couple decades, actually- I will briefly elaborate upon my experience. (Although, the adage "a picture says a thousand words", turns out to be mostly true, in my experience).

First- before anyone misinterprets that I consider an A&P license (certificates) an unworthy objective, I assure them, and more importantly- other potential A&P students, that I indeed DO consider it a worthy objective to pursue.

As I mentioned, my first curiosity about getting an A&P license happened when I visited a local airport to pick up some instruments being repaired, and drove by a hangar with a community college sign. I stopped in, and chatted. Sounded like an interesting program, but the time demands wouldn't work for me (two years, 25 hours per week). I don't believe the time requirements (set by the FAA) have changed any over these past 20 years- 1900 hours of "contact time"; essentially instructor-led activity- either classroom or shop time. Back then, I was working a lot of overtime, and had a 45 minute drive each way to work. Nah, wasn't going to work.

Fast (??) forward 20 some years, and just about the same thing happened a few months ago, except now I only have a 20 minute drive, and am only working 45-50 hour weeks. So, hey, what the heck- time to "just do it"!!

The local school doesn't use semesters, but rather trimesters, so instead of two years, it's 20 months, and 30 hours per week rather than 25. And to enforce uniformity, the school has a time clock. Odd, but I suppose "rules are rules".

The class was so-so; if you've never seen an airplane, it was okay. For most readers of the blog, I would suggest it was more like= think of the worst, most boring laboratory class you ever suffered though elsewhere, and imagine it being six hours long, every night, for 15 weeks. And there are absolutely no "skips" allowed. Car break down? Sick kid? Gotta work late? Guess what- you're going to be making up the time. When? The instructors were quite accommodating, but there is no weekend "make up" time available. So- either stay an extra hour every night, or take time off work. Either way resulted in a disappointing compromise with work obligations- arrive at work tired the next day, or take time off during the work day- which if you are busy, is exactly what you CAN'T do. Sprinkle in a dozen tests throughout the term, which one's "hours" must be currently 100%, and it was just a recipe for an exercise in unsatisfactory compromise. miserable frustration and exhaustion.

I guess one thing I couldn't really reconcile, was as a professional, having to make time for a vocational program. And I noted the other working students likewise had schedule pressure with work. To enjoy the program, one must either have a completely predicatable job, and preferably one with no week-day overtime requirements, and be willing to forego virtually ALL evening personal activities for some 75-80 weeks.

Maybe when I was younger, it wouldn't have been a more-fun / less-unsatisfactory experience. Which is my recommendation for anyone considering an A&P; don't put it off. Otherwise, put it off until retirement.