Springfield Chapter Missouri Pilots Association

August 2002

Flying Journal - "Buffalo Wings" Continued

As you may recall, I opened my big mouth last month, committing myself to pass my FAA Knowledge Test to add-on the Gyroplane Instructor rating to my Flight Instructor certificate. Being somewhat of a procrastinator, I thought that might help me get the too long put off project done.

It seemed like a simple task. But bad memories intervened. I recalled when I went to take my test for Instrument Instructor. The people who sign you up at the testing service, somewhere far away on an 800 phone numberknow absolutely nothing about aviation. In fact, aviation tests are a small part of their business compared to tests for HVAC technicians and network administrators and dozens of other subjects. I paid my money and happily took my test. They were all questions about instrument flying. I got a score in the 90s and traveled to Pittsburg, KS for my checkride. I took the checkride, passed and received my temporary certificate.

Imagine my astonishment when the examiner called me a few days later to tell me I had to do it all over again! Neither of us had noticed at the time that I had taken the regular knowledge test for Instrument Pilot, not Instrument Instructor. They use questions from the same databank. In that case, I had to take the correct test as well as fly back to Pittsburg for another checkride. Learned a lesson that time.

Now of course, test registration is available on the Internet, but when I went to the site, I discovered it was too late to register that way for my intended test the next day. Back to the 800 number. Actually, I couldn't find my preferred test site on the old company I had always used. The test center had changed providers. Is nothing simple anymore?

But I finally managed to successfully register with the new testing service. I wanted to take the test in a familiar place, so I went to Pro Flight Air, where I had taken all but one of my other tests over the years (of course in a different building now). But it was not so familiar. The new testing service used an entirely different computer screen layout, which I didn't like nearly as well, but I was going to push on anyway.

The surprises were still not over. I had only been able to find one aviation study guide company that includes gyroplanes in their guides. Most study guides just print the airplane questions. I had studied all the rotorcraft questions, gyroplane and helicopter, many times. The intro screen on the test program said there would be some questions included for "evaluation purposes" whatever that means. But there were also some questions I am certain I have never seen anywhere.

So now I guess I was in the state of nervousness the FAA intends for tests to be taken in. I think that might be bad grammar, but that's how I felt. I actually only spent about 20 minutes on the test (after several months of prep and worry-silly me). And actually, I only missed one question more than the goal I had set for myself. Whew, I'm glad that's over! Maybe I should do that more often, so I'd get used to it (Ha, ha!).

So now only the REAL test, checkride prep, with a hard-to-find instructor, and then the actual checkride. I'm sure that'll be another story in itself. At least I already have the Commercial Gyroplane Rating so I can fly and give rides. And that's what it's all about, what makes it worthwhile.

Earlier in the summer, on a windy, sunny, partly cloudy day, with distant rain showers visible, I took an exhilarating flight from M17 (Bolivar) to H17 (Buffalo). The occasion was the opportunity for the gyroplane owner, Phil Horras, and I to try to persuade the aldermen in Buffalo to lease us space at their airport to house the aircraft, and possibly develop a facility for flight training and maintenance.

We spent an enjoyable afternoon chatting with many friendly citizens, including the Mayor and aldermen, the newspaper editor, and the economic development director. The last two worthies also enjoyed their first gyroplane rides over their fair city.

Apparently the first appearance of "Buffalo Wings" made a favorable impression, because I am pleased to report that just yesterday I was able to fly Twinstarr gyroplane N63306 to her new home at Buffalo, Missouri Airport. And an ironic twist, on a recent trip to Buffalo, New York, I happened upon the claimed birthplace, in 1964, of the food item, "Buffalo Wings." So next time you see me, ask me to show you my photo of the almost life-size bison with wings!

Meanwhile, fly your own wings safely,


[Copyright 2002 - Earl Holmer]