# This fuckin' useful class. . . (lame and nerdy, but pilots will take interest)

So, I’m in the middle of this weeklong class to get taught on how to assess airfields based on their already-existing construction. Basically, given dirt strip, gravel strip (semi-improved), asphalt, or concrete, you dig down and find the different soil types and start your work.

I’m an Electrical Engineer. I have no fuckin’ idea about what the different soil types are.

But that’s okay. We have this tool called a Dynamic Cone Penetrometer [DCP], which will tell you how hard it is to drive through different layers, and through the use of charts with tiny, tiny, [sub]tiny fuckin’ lines[/sub], you can figure out your California Bearing Ratio [CBR]. I’m a “sparkchaser”. I’ve never really been to California, nor do I care what bearing it has on this class right now.

So, with your new-found CBRs, you can find the acceptable gross load [AGL] of an aircraft given limits you either set, or are given, thankfully through more charts. If you’re working with a dirt/gravel strip or asphalt concrete [AC], you have charts to tell you the AGL and acceptable number of passes (times you can run over the same spot without overstressing anything) for that AGL, or vice versa.

If you’re working with concrete [PCC], you first have to find the “K” value of all your subgrades, and then the ‘effective “K”’ by which you take into account all of the layers under that first layer of base course (the second layer on down). Then, you have to find the Load Factor [LF] given the thickness of the PCC, and calculate your Design Factor [DF], which thankfully . . . through more fuckin’ charts, will tell you the number of passes you can make.

Oh, but it gets better. If you have an “overlay”, being AC laid on top of PCC, you have a formula which will give you a replacement thickness value for either the layers of AC, PCC, which you can find either the AGL, or K values through the use of. . . [Abbot and Costello] . . . * more charts!*[/A&C].

So you can figure everything out. But wait, it gets better! Pilots apparently don’t talk in engineering terms. They like Aircraft Condition Numbers and Pavement Classification Numbers [ACNs and PCNs]. And, if we want, we can go back into history to Landing Condition Numbers [LCNs], we have charts to convert to several different systems: The British, and Air Mobility Commands’ [AMC’s] Weight Bearing Calculator [WBC], or some other system the International Civil Aviation Organization [ICAO] thought up.

And I haven’t even mentioned the bonuses one can reap if their Pavement Condition Indicator [PCI] (a subjective scale where the actual condition of your pavement is scored by the use of . . . more charts!) is high or low, either letting you land a fuckin’ 1,000,000 lb. spaceship on your runway, or limiting Newark Liberty’s to a 5,600 lb. Cessna.

Yeah, this class is real fuckin’ fun. At 4:00PM I left work, came home, relaxed for half an hour, and made dinner. I started at 6:30PM, and am just now taking a break. My head hurts from all these fucking factors and variables, but the worst is . . . the charts! Little tiny fucking lines a gnat needs a magnifying glass to see. :smack: I need a fuckin’ beer. . . But, after my test on Friday, I’ll be able to tell you what can or cannot land on any surface you put in front of me. Yeah, real impressive with the ladies. :rolleyes: But even better for bar tricks! [sub]I can’t believe I fuckin’ volunteered for this class. . . what the hell was I thinking?[/sub]

But, after venting some geek rage, I tried to make a sensical phrase out of all the damned anagrams I speak. My result:

:smack:

“Mothers, don’t let your sons grow up to be engineers. Let 'em grow up to be lawyers and doctors and such. . .”

Tripler
:: cracks a beer and salutes :: “Nerd Power!”

My wife grew up to be a lawyer. When she was still in school, and later when she was studying for the bar, I sometimes helped her study with flashcards. Even that short term contact with legal concepts made my brain hurt like a motherfuck. I’ll stick with my computer science mad l33t skillz, thanks.

If you think those charts are bad, I would like to suggest you have someone show you how to use a Moliere diagram. (cackles madly, ducks and runs off into the dawn)

They’re judging runway condition based on a penetrometer? The least accurate of all soil testing methods? Oh, my. I’m flying in early July, and will try my best not to think about that.

But pilots will take interest, you say?

Guess again.

Oh, honey. I’m sorry to be laughing so hard at your misfortune, but I got a unique perspective on this story and I giggled like I was mad.

I am an ex-sparkchaser! I gave up working in the field to become and exec. assist…for a massive company that does infrastructure works. Namely, roads, rails, and…runways.
snort

I’m so sorry. That shit is painful. More beer will help.

A penetrometer sounds like something from a really bad sci-fi porn movie.

Or a really good one depending on your perspective and the identity of the female lead.

No, they’ve got other methods: core sampling, excavation to actually remove samples of the subgrades, etc. My misfortune is being the poor SOB that has to go to an expedient strip, to see if we can land planes on it.

But, I finally finished it around 11:45, and we went over the problem today. I was “close enough” on most of the answers. And that “close enough” is because you’re dealing with charts, lines, graphs, etc. where even a pencil-lead length can mean a factor of tens.

It’s all subjective. And it all makes my head hurt. . . But Faruiza, I’d shoot myself before that happens.

Tripler
Thank God for Beer.

As an electrical engineer and pilot myself, all I can say is…shit, man. That sucks.

And you volunteered for this class why? More pay? More chicks? It makes your dick bigger? C’mon, man, tell us! You can’t be wanting to go into the boonies where there may be unfriendly people who shoot at you just for giggles!

Gargoyle leans on the brass rail of the lounge bar, looking up slyly at the woman alone at the end of the bar. He lifts his martini glass, nonchalantly twirling the little plastic sword making the olive bob in the gin like a carefree dolphin in the summer surf, and with a knowing wink and suggestive leer says, “Penetrometer?”

Holy shit, my head fuckin’ hurts. I took the four-part final exam today. It took me a total of four hours . . . but I passed. Jeesus, I want to braindump everything, and start drinking. But alas, I got two free tickets to the ball game in town tonight, so I’ll go vegetate there tonight.

Why did I volunteer for this class? Well, last week I said, “Why the hell not?” I thought, ‘It’s work, but not the office crap. . . It gets me out of the cubicle for a week!’ But then part of me wanted to be the guy you tapped on the shoulder to go do shit like this. Now after a couple of real-life evals with someone certified, I’ll get my certification. Kinda like a ‘check ride’.

But it’s like everything else when someone asks me “Why?”: Because I can.

I just thank Fucking Og it’s over. :rolleyes:

Tripler
. . . that class was death by PowerPoint. :smack:

If I have to go to a class, I’d rather go to one where everything is completely new than to one where I know half the stuff already and would have figured out the rest myself anyway.

Well, at least I was interested in the topic, Tripler.

But then again I used to fly airplanes into unimproved strips (A link to my own pic on airliners.net!), so the work you are doing was VERY important to me.

What is nice about being a little plane driver is we can usually just drag the strip and tell if we can land on it.