It was cold: -10C when I went flying yesterday. During preflight, I found an inspection cover was missing, and looked like it had broken off. The screws were still there and I could see marks in the paint where it looked like it probably flapped around before it departed the aircraft. I wasn't sure if the airplane was airworthy in that state, and even though I thought I was probably overreacting, I stopped and asked. The cover was on the underside of the horizontal stabilizer and you would only see it if you crouched down low and really looked. I wonder how many flights took place with it like that.
The chief instructor told me that I couldn't legally fly in that condition, but that it wasn't a safety issue. He fixed it, and a few minutes later I started the engine and taxied out. These guys keep their aircraft in great shape and I never worry about their airworthiness due to maintenance. I do, however, worry about a renter pranging an airplane, not telling anyone, and then leaving it for me to discover at 100' AGL, so I take the preflight seriously. I was content with my meticulousness in this instance, rather than being laughed at for being overly picky.
The engine was fine during the run-up. I pulled up to the hold-short line and saw a fox running around in the grass beyond the runway threshold. I started my takeoff roll on 34L and noticed the oil pressure needle jump off the high side of the scale. I aborted the takeoff and taxied back to the run-up area. The engine was not warm enough and the oil was still to thick, I guess. I did another run-up and all was well. Afterward, I was told that it would have been OK to just go ahead with the takeoff. I'll file that fact away for later.
Afterwards, we got the IACRA stuff sorted out. It turns out that I hadn't actually submitted the application, which was the root cause of the problem.
We scheduled the checkride for Sunday afternoon. I pored over the forecast that evening: 12 gusting 21 knots from the northwest. That would be almost a direct crosswind on runway 4 at CJR--really pushing my comfort zone. I called the examiner after the 6:35pm EST Dulles TAF was issued to touch base and run down the weather. I said that my go/no-go decision to fly would be made at the last possible moment, following the oral test, due to the projected surface winds. I prepared my flight plan and studied. I don't think I made it to sleep before 1am (not exactly what I wanted).
Flight time today: 1.3 hrs Solo/PIC
Total time to date: 61.6 hrs total, 43.8 hrs dual, 14.3 hrs Solo/PIC