One more or less normal night later, I drove over to the Albuquerque FAA office to get my restricted FAA PPL + IR license. Apparently, receiving an e-mail from the facility manager stating that “sure, you can drive by, shouldn’t be a problem”, does not constitute an appointment, which as it turns out is legally required. A few discussions, half an hour of paperwork and a few autographs later, I left the building with my brand new FAA license. Total cost: $ 0. A small difference with the 178 EUR they charge in Belgium. On the way back, I bought some extra supplies including lots of water for a few hours flying over a desert.
The technician put some extra oil boxes in the plane, some spare light bulbs for night flying (which, in the end, was a bit silly if you fly to a place with 24 hours of sunlight). I admired the plane which was now carrying my name, made some pictures, and drove back to the motel in the 35°C hot desert landscape. Back at the motel, I found my missing back waiting in the lobby. I was completely ready for take-off the next day !