I arrived early at 4.45 pm for my 6.00 pm class tonight (04/10/2012), totally unprepared for my Instrument Flight Rules final test. “Why is that?” You may ask. The simple answer is that since I’ve been struggling with my practical aspect of flying, I’ve been focusing more on that. Reading and learning about the various maneuvers and trying to stay on top of things as Jeremy has been pretty hard on me to do things for myself and to think ahead before performing the next step during any flight. IFR is only secondary for me at the moment as I have to pass my VFR flying first. I’ve attended all the IFR Ground School classes and taken all the quizzes and tests and performed relatively well, at least passed them. So this evening I was a little nervous as to how I might perform and was relying solely on what I’d learnt in the classes. I only read the first couple of chapters of the IFR book since the course started and had not studied at all for this final. Anyway I’m digressing for the moment and will return to this topic a little later.
A few days prior to our final class, we all received an email from Peter Kelsey who is fellow student. In that email he was asking if we would be willing to sign a card for Mr. Whipple as a thank you gesture for his teaching. He also stated that he was going to present Mr. Whipple with a gift of a radio that he had only used a few times and was replacing it with a new one for himself. That gift was a Vertex 300 radio which costs $245.00 from Sporty’s Pilot Shop! Mr. Whipple had mentioned in passing during one of our classes that his radio was getting old and how he had trouble hearing it as the speaker was now worn out due to wear and tear. Here’s Peters email:
Hello fellow students,
I have a brand new, well ok, I have tried it a few times, but it is as new as used can get and since I am replacing it with another one have decided to give it to Dan Whipple our intrepid instructor as he described his portable as being hard to hear. I don’t need any money but wondered if you all would want to sign a card to go with it?
I will bring both the card and radio to class on Tuesday.
I replied that I would be would be willing to sign the card and then received the following reply to all of us from Steve:
Thanks for doing this … I would be more than happy to chip in for the cost of the radio. I was planning to get Dan a gift card … see you Tues night
I too had plans of my own of presenting a cheese cake to Mr. Whipple and the entire class as a thank you and as a celebratory gesture. I did not mention this in my reply or to anyone until the evening of the class.
I arrived to an empty class room and did not see the usual student who is there before anyone else, Steve. I placed the cakes in the fridge and went to the back of the class room. I looked out of the window which faces the Anoka airport. It was a cold but bright and sunny day and planes were taking off and landing. I must have spent about five minutes or so observing the planes and then Steve walked in. We greeted one another and began chatting. I mentioned to him how I was unprepared for the test and he replied, “Oh you’ll be okay. You do fine in the quizzes and the tests, so you should be okay”. I laughed nervously and said, “I hope so!” Then Steve mentioned about the Peter’s generous gesture regarding the radio, and I agreed and said, “Yes that’s quite impressive”. I then mentioned to Steve that I also brought a couple of cakes for all us, as in our last class Peter had jokingly asked Mr. Whipple how could we end the class without a cake. We both laughed. Then Steve asked me if I had done the practice test for the final test this evening. I said no I hadn’t as it was only a practice test and wasn’t going to count toward any credits for the class. Just then Thomas arrived and we all greeted one another and Steve asked him if he had done the practice test and Thomas said that he hadn’t. We continued chatting and Mr. Whipple arrived and gradually the rest of the class joined us. Mr. Whipple said, “If you did the practice test I can give you the answers”. He then asked us individually if we had done it, and when it was my turn I replied that I hadn’t, Mr. Whipple laughingly said, “No I didn’t think you had”, and the whole class laughed in unison. So Steve, Peter, Mike and the other Steve all went through the practice test with Mr. Whipple. Incidentally, only six students were present to take the final and there should have been 8 in total. Mr. Whipple said the remaining two were away on business or work and he had arranged another time for them to take the final test. So now the moment had arrived, the final itself.
Mr. Whipple gave out the test papers and the answer sheet and said “The actual test is for 150 minutes and you can take that long to finish this test, of course if you finish early then you can go home!” After about an hour and a quarter, one by one the students began finishing their tests. Thomas was first, but then he said, “I finished but I don’t want to have it checked yet”. Then Mike finished and walked to the front of the class with his answer sheet and handed it to Mr. Whipple. He got 78% and was pleased that he had done better than usual. I was the last one to finish. Almost every one passed with the exception of Thomas and myself. I got 65 % and the pass mark is 70%. Even though I failed, I was pleased with my score as I hadn’t studied at all. I don’t know what Thomas got. Mr. Whipple approved me i.e. he signed me off for the final FAA Knowledge test saying, “You did something like this in your VFR class and then passed the final FAA Knowledge Test with 95%. So I know you’ll pass this test and then I also have an idea from your other tests and quizzes”. Thomas left as he had to go to work and then Mike left as he wasn’t feeling well.
We all signed the card for Mr. Whipple unbeknownst to him. Since the other students had finished before me, they moved to another room separated by an open doorway at the rear of the class room and began chatting as I continued with my test. I had requested Steve if he would kindly take the cakes out of the fridge and place them on the table. I also mentioned there was a paper bag containing plastic plates and forks on top of the fridge. Steve kindly obliged. Peter took the radio box that he had disguised in a Lunds paper bag and placed it on the table next to the cakes. Lunds is a supermarket in Minnesota that sells only fruits. Mr. Whipple and I went and joined the other students and Peter presented him with the card from all of us and handed him the gift. Steve then said, “Tiger brought the cakes”. Mr. Whipple was visibly touched by this gesture from his students. He was surprised when he opened his gift and was at a loss for words. He then said, “You guys are just great, you’re going to make me cry”. I felt really good that Mr. Whipple felt wonderful. He really deserved the gift and he really worked very hard to teach us, to get the cookies and make coffee each evening for class. He always had time for us, even after class. He never was in a rush to go home even though it would be 9.45 pm on occasions. As we all chatted and enjoyed the cakes Mr. Whipple and Peter were especially enjoying the delicious cakes and asked where I had purchased them from. Mr. Whipple then asked, “Walmart?” I said yes, and he replied, “They’re absolutely delicious. Thank you!”
The time was now about 8.45 pm and Peter said he had to go home as he had some youngsters to take care of. Some cake was left over and I said to Mr. Whipple, “Please take these home”. “Oh you don’t want these?” he asked. “No. I brought them for you, perhaps you can give them to your children or grandchildren”, I replied. “Oh my wife loooooves cheesecake!” he said with a huge smile on his face and thanking me. We all shook hands as we said goodbye, promised to stay in touch and whished each other the best for the FAA IFR Final. Mr. Whipple concluded the evening saying, “You guys have been wonderful and I’m going to miss these evenings” and we all agreed.