When I opened my eyes on Tuesday morning, the government had opened theirs. It was time for my third time at bat.
An email from AFS-650 to me, and all the other enrollees in the January DPE class, gave assurances that our $480 tuition payments would either be refunded, or credited toward a future course. So, I checked the online schedule, finding an April offering.
Of course, the dates fell square in the middle of my Spring academic quarter, which was already fully subscribed and prepaid by a great bunch of students (many of whom had been on a waiting list since last fall). You, see, I don't subscribe to the traditional revolving door flight school scheduling paradigm, which I believe contributes to our training industry's pitiful 20% completion rate.
Instead, I run a rigid schedule of fixed lesson dates and times, two lessons per week, three hours per lesson, incorporating (on average) an hour of individualized tutorial (ground instruction), about 1.3 Hobbs of flight, and a three-quarter hour debrief. What else would you expect from a retired college professor who's been teaching for 45 years?
So, I called up all my Spring students, apologized for the inconvenience, and informed them that we would be shutting down for a week in the middle of the term, and tacking an extra week onto the end of the quarter. When I explained why, all were supportive.
Rescheduling accomplished, I went online to register for April. To my horror, the website would not accept my reservation without remitting my $480 tuition - again! I prepared to ring up AFS-650 to complain, but in the interim, received an email from them. They were adding another, unpublished course section in March, specifically for the members of the terminated January course, and our tuition would be automatically credited upon receipt of a returned opt-in email.
Opt in I did, faster than you can say Chuck Yeager. Then, I called up all my Spring students once more, apologized for the inconvenience, and told them we were moving our one-week break back from April into March. Again, thankfully, all students were agreeable. (What a great bunch of students I have!)
I called back to the hotel in OKC. To my surprise, they were expecting my call (FAA had apparently clued them in), and reactivated my cancelled reservation for the new dates, at the same price. All was working out well.
Now, on to the airline, which had good news and bad news. Yes, they had seats for the requested route on the required dates. Unfortunately, the class being the week before Easter, the rates were roughly doubled.
Oh well, I told myself, it's only money...
When I told the tale to my FSDO friend, he said "don't worry about it. You'll make it up in your first few checkrides."
And you wonder why DPEs charge so much?
Unless something unforseen occurs, you can expect Chapter 8 around April first -- no foolin'!
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
AvSport LLC, KLHVfly@AvSport.org