Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Some days I could take on the world

Some days it all goes beautifully. On these days I don’t need a plane in order to fly. My feet just don’t touch the floor. I feel invincible. Perhaps that flea can scale Mount Everest after all!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Some days it all just goes horribly wrong

I’m a generally intelligent person (honestly!), so why does something as simple as following items on a checklist throw me?
I’m so paranoid about not being able to start the finicky, over hot, fuel injected engine, that I always miss the checklist item immediately preceding the engine start. Unfortunately the item in question happens to be “BRAKES – ON”.

I swear one day I’m going to plunge straight into the air ambulance. I’m going to be famous for causing an accident where the number of fatalities exceeds the number of people in my aircraft.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Make a decision, dammit!

PDM or Pilot Decision Making. I suspect this is going to be a real challenge for me. I am usually very happy to delegate all responsibility to other people. If there is someone up in the plane with me I will quite happily defer to their judgment in anything. This is going to be a problem of course because eventually the dreaded S word will happen and there won’t be anyone there to tell me what to do.
To give you an example during my first circuit lesson I was asking Bob about everything. Should I turn here? Do I put my flaps down now? Should I do this now? And so on.

I suspect that Bob, being the evil genius that he is, has spotted this trend. On our last circuit of the lesson, he seemed strangely distracted by the radio and consequently didn’t seem to be available to answer such questions. I quickly realized I had a choice. Either wait for him to do something about our situation or fly the plane. I chose the latter and somehow we managed to find ourselves on the final leg with the required 20˚ of flaps happily floating down to the runway.

Well played, sir! J

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Common misconceptions

So my kind work colleagues that humor me by asking questions about my flight training, rather than just politely tolerating me, have thrown up some interesting misconceptions:

Eye sight - You don’t need perfect vision to fly on a Private Pilot Licence. I’ve not looked up the exact details but basically if your eyesight can be corrected to a decent standard then you are good to go.  I wear contact lenses, so if I ever get a licence it’ll be endorsed “must wear corrective lenses” just like my driving licence is.  Even if you have dicey colour vision you can still (I believe) get a licence that allows you to fly in the daytime as long as your plane is radio equipped, or something to that effect.

Controls – A couple of my colleagues thought I was winding them up when I complained about not being able to reach the pedals. The throttle (power) might be a hand lever but yep, we still have pedals for the rudder. A properly coordinated turn requires you to use the control column to bank the wings whilst maintaining the correct pitch ( basically moving the control column to bring the nose up or down) whilst applying the correct amount of power and checking any sideways movement with the correct rudder pedal. Now do you see why I need that octopus?

Flying is horrendously, ridiculously expensive – Not true.  It is merely stupidly expensive J

Flying is glamorous - So untrue I don’t even want to go there. I refuse to wear anything that I won’t mind getting oil or fuel on, so already I’m dressing like a scruff. Add to that the sunglasses, headset and knee board combo. It’s not exactly high fashion. The planes get hot. After a good circuit workout I could probably wring the sweat out of my clothes. Glamor is not the word I’d use.

Simulator use – Another colleague asked me how much time I spend practicing the various maneuvers in the simulator before I go up. Errm, approximately none! I have a ground briefing with Bob before every flight. This can range from 10- 45 minutes depending on the complexity of what we are trying to achieve. Other than that practice is for real. Bob only takes control now when he’s demoing something or I ask him to because I want to observe something (or fix my hair!). I reckon 99% of the flight now, it’s me behind the metaphorical wheel! For the record I tried MS Flight simulator once (we have the whole yoke/control column/rudder pedal set up). It didn’t end well. No survivors!

Radar - I don’t have radar or any other instruments on board to tell me where other planes are. I use my eyes (or more usually Bob’s!). Even in the controlled airspace around the airport where I’m talking to ATC. I’m still flying Visual Flight Rules. Which basically boils down to “It’s your fault if you hit someone”.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Crud I keep in my flight bag

I’m flying straight after work today so had to bring my flight bag in. Mine is very small at the moment. Soon I will have to carry a lot more crud than I currently do and will need a bigger bag. Here’s what I have so far:
·         Headset – very expensive, mildly uncomfortable. Essential for hearing ATC and Bob.
·         Sunglasses – I may need new ones, these don’t sit under the headset too well.
·         Kneeboard – highly unsexy thing that straps around your thigh. Folds out in three sections. Mine currently has a Toronto VTA chart, a clipboard with scrap paper and my E6b on it. Along with a pen and pencil.
·         Glasses – I wear contact lenses, so regs state I have to keep a spare pair of glasses with me. Apparently Transport Canada can and do check to see if you are complying. I suspect if I ever get as far as my flight test. It’ll be the first thing the examiner asks me.
·         Tissues – good for cleaning oil and fuel drips off of you.  I still come back from lessons smelling like a mechanic.
·         Lip balm – the mike and dry air irritate my lips. I use this as a barrier.
·         Bag of skittles – at 4500ft is not the time to be suffering from low blood sugar.
·         Wallet – to pay for the lesson (Ouch!)
·         Keys – so I can get back home

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Taking a break

Bob’s on a well deserved vacation for two weeks, so I find myself grounded for a while. It’s actually not bad timing. I’ve got a big work related thing next weekend, so wouldn’t be able to fly anyways.
Bob offered to hook me up with another instructor, but for one weekend it didn’t seem worth it. I thought that maybe I could take a bit of a rest and maybe read something for pleasure without feeling guilty. Bob is still cracking the whip though; he intends to email me a nice load of reading to hack my way through.
Oh Joy !
I still have a load of posts to go up though, even if I’m not flying. Just keep in kind that these random thoughts are not in any kind of chronological order. Some are from way back in the beginning.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Often heard phrases

I’m nothing if not consistent. This means there are various phrases from Bob that form a large part of my flight training. Below is a list of the ones that spring to mind, along with a little description for context.

INSIDE, OUTSIDE, INSIDE, OUTSIDE! – usually as we are hurtling down the runway on a takeoff run. The idea is that I should check my instruments, then check where I’m going. Repeatedly. I.E. every second or so. At the start of my training doing this meant I would forget where my speed indicator was.  So I could either takeoff at the correct speed or go in a straight line but not both.

It’ll Be Fun – usually used in conjunction with the next insane maneuver I’m going to have to learn (Spins, Spirals etc.) It rarely is!

Trim off the pressure - there is a trim wheel that you can use so that you don’t have to constantly maintain pressure on the control column. I forget to use it (or refuse to take both hands of the control column). I end up with a “death grip” on the yoke. My knuckles turn white.

Watch the taxi line - I am watching it. I’m watching as I manage to steer my plane in completely the opposite direction from it!

You know what to do – usually following my scream of “Bob, its doing <insert random movement here>”. Bob’s stopped correcting all my mistakes now. If I complain that the plane is doing something, he expects me to fix it. God, how unreasonable can you get!

Aviate, navigate, communicate – The holy trinity of flying. It’s all about priorities. Fly the plane, then figure out where you are then worry about your radio calls. I’m finding the middle one the trickiest.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Google might think that I’m a 65+ Male* …..

But luckily my Aviation Medical Examiner doesn’t agree! All went well so hopefully I should be receiving in the mail soon a shiny Class 3 Medical valid for the next 5 years. The process was fairly painless and not particularly in depth really. No complaints but a plea to any medical professions who may be reading this. If you are conducting any kind of exam where at some point you are going to expect the person to do the obligatory “pee in a cup” (and let’s face it, that’s pretty much all of them!), for the love of God let them get that bit out of the way first. They have probably come prepared for this eventuality and being poked and prodded with a full bladder is not comfortable.

*Google data mines and tracks the kind of stuff you view online. You can click on your profile and see what it thinks about you. Google has me pegged as a 65+ maleL. The male bit I get, the 65 is a tad insulting but the plus? Really? Just the icing on the cake!

Air Canada is trying to kill me

Or at least one of their pilots is. I had a near miss taxi-wise last night. Ok so my taxiing is still a little wonky, but I’m fairly certain he was somewhere he shouldn’t have been. Bob was not impressed (with the AC guy). I still maintain I could have slipped under his wing and no one would have noticed!

I’m not even supposed to be here!

I’ve now reached what Bob calls “Stage 2” of my training. The general idea being that I’ve been exposed to most of the basic maneuvers and am now putting them together into the ultimate test known as “The Circuit”.
In its most basic terms, a circuit consists of the takeoff, climb out and then a roughly rectangular path back round to landing again. It lasts about 5 minutes and it’s frantic. There’s barely any straight and level flight involved. By the time you’ve made your second turn you need to start thinking about landing.

Now I object to being subjected to this ordeal. I’m really not meant to be here. The plan was for me to take a few lessons, that’s all. There wasn’t meant to be a stage 2, 3 or 4. There sure as hell wasn’t going to be all this “preparation for your first solo flight” stuff (BTW Bob has been banned from mentioning the “S” word).

I don’t know if my current feelings are a good thing or a sign of my deeper slump into insanity but there is a small part of me that thinks I might actually be able to do this!

Monday, 23 July 2012

I may forget how to walk

My role model in life, Homer Simpson, had a theory that everything you learn as an adult pushes something else out of your brain. I’m actually quite worried that by focusing on each individual lesson, I’ll either forget what I did at the start or forget how to tie my shoelaces or something.
I’m already fairly convinced that I’ve forgotten how to recover from a spin (I know I stamp on the opposite rudder, but was there something before that?) Hopefully once I’m done with circuits we will revisit some of these things.
Now, see? Just by writing that paragraph above I’ve obviously lost the plot. I spent two weeks getting myself panicked to the point of no return about these things. Why would I be hoping to do them again?

The most fun you can have with your clothes on…

… or not even that if this checklist is anything to go by
???????????? – What else can you say?

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Quirks and gender

Although I fly the same basic model of plane each time, there are a few different actual planes I fly. I’m coming to realize that each plane has its own little quirks. Planes are usually referred to by the last 3 letters of their call sign. JPM has no front pockets so I don’t have anywhere to store my sunglass case and the clipboard. SAR likes to come nose up very quickly after takeoff.  Another one ( I forget which) has a heading indicator which needs resetting every 5 minutes.

I’d always assumed in my head that the various planes I fly were male (dunno why, maybe because all men assume that planes, trains and automobiles are female). But after my first circuit lesson where I found myself screaming “GET UP YOU BITCH!” at JPM when the end of runway 24 was coming at me a bit too quickly for my liking.  It would seem that this is not the case.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

It’s a bit touch and go

These are rapidly becoming my favourite thing to do. There’s something about the adrenaline rush you get when straight after landing, you just gun that throttle and hurtle down the runway (hopefully in a straight line!)

Major achievement – the tower no longer thinks I’m drunk

After 7 lessons I’ve finally managed the art of being sober! Or at least looking like I am. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen after 7 lessons, I’ve finally got the hang of taxiing the damn plane in a straight line!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Flying is like a mutant camel

Lots of humps! So far I have successfully overcome the following ones.

My radio exam – Passed first time, although I suspect it wasn’t my finest hour. I am deeply suspicious of a written exam for what is essentially a practical task. And I sat it straight after a very traumatic flight. Still it is done and passed.

My PSTAR – The 50 question multiple choice paper that you have to do before you are allowed to go solo. Passed first time using the WMAP’s patented “trivial pursuit” approach*

Spins – The thought of this lesson nearly made me throw up, let alone the execution

Humps still to go

Medical - Hopefully just a formality but delayed because my surgeon won’t return my calls about getting a copy of my report from March’s operation. Frustrating.

Landings – yes, worryingly I don’t actually have any experience of landing the plane yet. Soon hopefully!

Written Exam – Set by Transport Canada, various sections. A hell of a lot of reading. Valid for two years. No hurry just yet.

First Solo – I’m in both high anticipation and dread of this moment. May be sooner than I expected. Possibly half way there already. <cue hyperventilation>

Flight Test – Yeah right!
* the trivial pursuit method refers to the fact that no one who knows me will play the game with me. I have memorized all the science and nature questions. I just keep jumping on the green Qs.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Why I’m a bad student

Bob is a great teacher and I’m a lousy student. Both in the air and in the classroom. Ground school was particularly traumatic for me. There are certain topics that have to be covered; I guess a basic core curriculum type of thing. Personally if it were me, I’d want to redesign the whole flow of the course and give the instructors some tips on teaching techniques and basic classroom management. But this isn’t about them; it’s about why I’m an appalling student. So here we go:
·         I don’t do half the reading I should – I actually got to the stage that if I read the flight training manual before the lesson it would make everything seem  so complicated that I had to stop before it completely overwhelmed me (that’s my excuse!)
·         My ego gets in the way of everything – I have a very high opinion of myself! Seriously though, there were physics errors in some of the slides and I had to call the instructor out on it. Probably didn’t make me too popular.
·         I manage to panic myself to the point of intellectual stupor. My mind stops functioning properly. This means I spend a large portion of our ground briefing time thinking “I can’t do this, I can’t do this” instead of listening about how to do it.
·         I can be quite passive sometimes. So it took me a while to realize that Bob won’t always do the things for me that he has been doing. One day I will have to make, listen to, interpret and respond to those radio calls all on my own!
·         I get hooked into the Macho bullshit that goes around ground school. There’s a lot of testosterone packed into a very small space. Now I’m used to being in a Male dominated environment and can usually give as good as I get. For some reason though, instead of ignoring the silly little boys, I start competing with them. This is not good. I lack the correct anatomy to successfully participate in the metaphorical “how high up the wall” contest.
·         I have no faith in my own abilities. I am very good at convincing myself that I am simply incapable of performing various tasks. At this very moment I’m convinced that Bob is just being polite and humoring me and that really he doesn’t see me ever getting my licence. Despite the fact I outright called him on this last lesson. I asked him if he ever, realistically saw a scenario whereby I could pass my flight test. His answer was a resounding yes.
I still don’t believe him L.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Silence is golden

For the first time in a while I think we went a whole lesson without hearing the stall horn. I don’t miss it at all, not one bit!

A shamelessly indulgent post

I know that my screw ups are far more interesting to read about, don’t worry I still have pleeenty of posts about those things. This post however is shamelessly self-indulgent. I am overwhelmed by what I’ve actually achieved to date.  I reflect a great deal on each lesson in the hope that I can learn something.  It suddenly occurred to me after today’s lesson that something fundamental has changed. One of those milestones that are not measured in flying hours or hurdles passed. I am no longer afraid.

This may sound like an odd thing to say but at the start I was near paralyzed by my anxiety. It prevented me from being able to listen effectively, process information and make effective decisions. Today’s lesson was action packed. I was near or beyond my capacity to carry out tasks, but I wasn’t frightened. For at least the first 5 lessons or so I was constantly fighting against a bubble of panic rising up inside me. That appears to have gone. I really think that the spins lesson was the turning point. I was truly terrified at the mere thought of that lesson. I don’t know how Bob managed to pry my fingers off the dashboard long enough to get me to fly the plane (for that matter I don’t know how he managed to get me into the plane). After that everything else seemed trivial in comparison.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

I really am ludicrously short

I have to have the seat fully cranked up and a cushion underneath me to see over the engine cowling. I have to have two really thick cushions behind me to be able to reach the rudder pedals and get full deflection. Short legs are an asset on commercial flights but in my little Cessna I still need to take half an upholstery shop with me before I fly.

“I’m just not used to feeling this stupid”

A fantastic quote from a fellow Ground School sufferer.  It just about sums up the way I feel at the moment. I’m used to being smart. At the moment I’m anything but. Stress does funny things to you. For me, it seems to rob me of the ability to do basic math. And by basic I really do mean basic , highlights so far include failing to be able to calculate what 10% of a 300 fpm descent was and multiplying 6 by 2 to get 18.  When I’m multitasking in the plane, Bob can ask me an innocuously simple question like “so how can we make this thing go faster ?” and I react with the stereotypical “deer in headlights” panic-stricken glare before following his gaze gently down to the throttle; DOH!
I wish Bob could see me in Nav class where I was actually showing my fellow sufferers how to get a rough answer in their head so they could at least tell if the answer on their E6b looked right. I can actually count up to more than 10! Honest!

Monday, 16 July 2012

M is for Mango…

...or not as the case may be.  Pilots have reinvented the alphabet, because obviously the one we have all been using since the age of 3 isn’t good enough! It is called the ICAO phonetic alphabet and you all kind of know it already. It’s the Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta thingy.
As a pilot, you have to know it. You use it A LOT. Mostly when talking to ATC (and that’s a time you don’t want to get it wrong, you sound very stupid!). For example one of the planes I fly has the registration GSAR. Whenever I’m talking to ATC I identify myself as “(Golf) Sierra Alpha Romeo”. Some call signs are easier to say than others.
I thought I knew the phonetic alphabet but quickly realized that there appear to be holes in my knowledge. So I started practicing by spelling out words in my head. Waiting for the subway? I’m at Sierra Papa Alpha Delta India November Alpha station.  Occasionally I still draw mental blanks on letters. M seems to be a particular bugbear. I don’t know why. This situation isn’t helped by a delightful friend who was messing around pretend to speak in “pilot talk” and decided M was for Mango.  Now I can’t get it out of my head. Thanks A!!
Of course I’m just as capable of messing up on my own. One time when I was practicing random words on my own, I got stuck on “H”. The only thing I could come up with was Hedgehog! Thank God ATC weren’t around at the time!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Voices in my head

I’m someone who likes the sound of their own voice (Hence the blog). I spent a good ten years with a captive audience who were forced to listen to me. I still switch on to “teacher mode” occasionally (I’m sure the Gang from work will attest to this). So why am I so terrified about talking on the radio?

I’ve spent many an hour listening to ATC (yes my life is really that interesting). They seem to speak the same language as me (kinda, sorta). I’ve even visited the tower and they didn’t have three heads or tentacles or anything! But they are still the scariest people I know.

The thing is radio calls have a set procedure that you are meant to follow (we even have to pass an exam on it). Even emergency calls have a set pattern. Screaming “OH MY GOD WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!” just doesn’t cut it. Now I don’t like getting things wrong, at all. So this panics me. I’ve heard people get stuff wrong before and one of two things happens, either ATC laughs at you and gently suggests something based on what you were trying to say. Or they get annoyed with you and tersely correct you. Neither scenario is the end of the world.

I have discovered something that is worse than talking to ATC and that’s being in the uncontrolled airspace around the practice area. Here the whole see and avoid thingy of flying VFR means that you have to tell people where you are in the vain hope that they might avoid dinging your shiny aircraft.  It can get busy out at the practice area. I hear lots of voices in my head (I know they are real, Bob hears them too). At times I just want to scream “SHUT THE F@#** UP, DON’T YOU KNOW SOME OF US ARE TRYING TO FLY A PLANE!”, but apparently that could cost me up to $5000 and a year in prison.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Bad Spin Video

Bad for some many reasons…
1)      I actually had to experience it!
2)      I’m no photographer
3)      I really was trying hard not to have a full on panic attack.
4)      I’m no photographer
5)      I was trying not to flail out and hit Bob
6)      I’m no photographer (get the hint?)
Anyways, this is a spin entry and recovery.

As if learning to fly wasn’t enough of an achievement. I’ve also had to learn how to get videos off my iPhone, source editing software and cut the thing down to a reasonable length. Is there anything I can’t do ? J

How to terrify a student

I think my instructor likes to deliberately terrify me….
.. no not by throwing the plane into extreme maneuvers or putting me in situations where I’m way out of my depth, but by little comments like “ So we really ought to think about you sitting your PSTAR and Radio exam so they are out of the way for when you go solo”
Or he’ll say something like “You’ll need to be able to deal with this on your own when I’m not in the plane beside you”
I never envisaged a situation where anyone in their right mind would consider putting me in sole charge of a plane.  Which brings up the even scarier prospect that my instructor sees in me something that I have failed to see in myself.
He obviously doesn’t see reason why I can’t do this, but then again he hasn’t been inside my head recently. It’s a scary scary place.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Warning! Warning! Will Robinson!*

One of my worst habits during extreme maneuvers (especially when Bob is demoing them) is to flail my arms around wildly and grab on to something, anything.
In a plane this is bad. The cockpit is kind of small; there isn’t much to hang on to that isn’t going to affect the handling of the plane in some way.  Really there are only two things to grab; the control column (really bad if you are not the one in control at that point) or Bob (also bad if he is the one meant to be in control). I wonder if they teach flight instructors how to fly a plane with a screaming woman attached to your arm?
Yesterday had the potential to be a traumatic lesson, for we were doing spins. The worst thing is that I knew that we were going to be doing spins. I had a whole week to stew over it. I oh so nearly did not get on that ferry. Bob was under strict instructions to force me to experience a spin demo; otherwise I would let my anxiety build up to a point that I could never, ever bring myself to do them. The good news about spins is technically I only ever need to demonstrate the recovery once (it shouldn’t be on the flight test).  The bad news is that I have to demonstrate recovery from a spin at least once!
Anyway long story short, combined with fairly large amounts of profanity (I’m sorry Bob, I really am but it just kind of slips out!), I did manage to demonstrate an adequate recovery from a spin. Without actually realizing it! You see Bob is fundamentally evil (please understand, this is a compliment!), he got me to practice recovery in stages, sharing the workload. On our last effort I was actually doing all the work and didn’t cotton on. Then he said those magic words “I consider that aspect of our lesson to have been successfully completed”. This of course led to another string of profanity, as in Thank #*#% I don’t have to do that again.
I will admit to being slightly proud of myself at this point.
*Kudos if you got the Lost in Space reference J

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Hello ......

..... is there anyone out there?
I have no idea if I'm talking to myself here. If you are reading then please leave a comment or two. You don't need to use names. I accept anonymous comments.


I intend to sue the textbook publishers..

.. for misrepresentation as to what to expect in a Power-On Stall.
Their words … Due to <blah de blah physicsy stuff> you may notice that one wing drops before the other…..
What they should have said .. You may experience a tendency to scream very loudly and exclaim “Holy Shit! Why is the SIDE of my plane pointing towards the ground? You may also become reacquainted with your previous meal."

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Why am I Doing This?

Some days I ask myself this over and over, especially when I’m hanging sideways over the practice area practicing stalls.
There isn’t a simple answer but below are a few of the factors feeding in
1.       I actually like aviation stuff.   I like aeroplanes and what they do. I find the physics interesting, the design intricacies fascinating. I even like following air crash investigations. The detective work is incredible. I’ve never been afraid of crashing really. My fears have a whole different root
2.       I don’t like flying – Ok stay with me on this one, but yes I actually dislike flying – at least on large commercial aircraft. The smaller the plane the better I am (which is insanely stupid by the way, from a statistical point of view).  I mostly dislike the physical sensation of any turbulence. My hope is that learning to fly through the stuff will make me a better passenger. Its not working
3.       RTH thought it would be a good idea.  He’s right (don’t tell him I said that though), if we ever want to fly anywhere as a couple, having an extra set of hands would be useful. And if anything did ever happen to him when we were up in the air , I need to be able to get the plane back on the ground ( Shortly before making the decision to take this on , this is exactly what happened to a woman in the US. Her husband had a heart attack and died at the controls. Luckily she’d had some flight training and was able to land safely)
4.       It is addictive – Originally I only intended to take about 10 hours worth of lessons – basic this is how you get it up, this is how you point it at places, and this is how you get it down. Two lessons put paid to that idea. Screw that I’m gonna fly this thing for real!!!
5.       I’ve never tried the impossible before – I always thought that I had a pretty good handle on what my strengths and weaknesses were and played to them accordingly. Want a math problem solved? I’m your girl! Need someone to organize an event? No sweat!  Need a situation resolved quickly? Easy! Need something done that requires any motor skills what so ever? I’d look elsewhere pal. Consequently, despite somehow having managed to acquire a driving license, I don’t drive. Ever.
So flying really is like a flea trying to climb Mount Everest as far as I’m concerned. I went my entire life assuming I’d never, ever be able to achieve something like that. That I simply didn’t possess the right tools to do it. 90% of the time I still feel that way, but occasionally I have that glimmer of hope that I might actually be able to control a plane without risk of life or limb.
6.       I’m getting a rather nice ego boost from it!  I hear that achieving the impossible will really do that for you!
7.       I’m stubborn. I’m going to beat that plane into submission (or die trying!)
8.       I was ill and now I’m not.  I had some health issues , nothing life threatening or anything but enough to make me feel very bad for a long time (one of those cases where it comes on gradually and you didn’t realize just how sick you got until you are better).  After recovering from my surgery I had more energy than I’d had in years. So I wanted to try something new and challenging. It didn’t get more challenging than this!
9.       I’m insane.  Looking back at 1 through 8 it is the only possible explanation!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Excuse me sir, when do I collect my octopus?

Common consensus at ground school is that none of us seem to possess enough limbs to carry out the tasks required for flying a plane.  This fact was certainly apparent in our last Navigation class, apparently not only are we required to fly the plane but carry out a series of complicated mathematical calculations , whilst simultaneously completing a table detailing where we are (and probably where we actually should be !)
We came to the conclusion that the only way this was possible was with the addition of at least 3 sets of limbs. So obviously at some point in our training we must be issued with some kind of octopus-like creature.
 I could really use mine soon.

Friday, 6 July 2012


I’m not using my real name on here but it is going to become fairly obvious where I am flying from ,  and what flying school I’m with. So the usual boring disclaimer applies . All view expressed are my own etc. etc. blah de blah.
This blog isn’t about them. With the exception of Bob, I’m going to try not to mention specific people.
I have a very irreverent attitude to life. My instructors at the flying school are all professionals. Any flippancy on this blog is 100% me and does not reflect their attitude at all.

My thumb is exactly 2.5 miles wide

At least on the  chart I use for this area. Apparently this fact will become vitally important when I start doing proper navigation. It would seem that aiming the plane for the big pointy thing* only works in a relatively small area of the country!
*(Even with this very obvious landmark, I still have difficulty seeing exactly where I’m meant to go. I know it sounds odd but everything looks really different from the air. I haven’t quite tried to land on the Leslie Street spit but I suspect it could have been close!)

Thursday, 5 July 2012

People and Places

Ridiculously Talented Husband (RTH) – Proud owner of a PPL. As the name suggests capable of turning his hand to pretty much anything and succeeding at it. Give him anything and he will not only have figured out how it works but also how to connect it to the internet for world domination before I’ve figured out which way up to hold it. I love him dearly. I’m intensely proud of him. My life wouldn’t be complete without him. However; if he wasn’t such an all-round nice bloke, his ability to do everything and anything would make him really bloody irritating!

Bob the Flight Instructor – Obviously not his real name (the poor guy deserves some privacy). Why he would choose to spend his weekends with a semi hysterical 30 something female is beyond me! Seriously, though he has many qualities which make him a saint in my book. In no particular order:

·         He’s obviously doing it because he loves flying. His enthusiasm is contagious and  probably counts for a reasonable part of my decision to try to take this as far as possible, rather than just grab a few lessons

·         He’s infinitely patient. He’s never made me feel stupid, despite the fact I’ve done some bloody stupid things up there.

·         He can always find a positive in even the worst lesson. Even when I’ve felt the lesson was a compete write off, I can always think back to at least one thing I’ve managed to achieve.

·         He writes epic lesson summaries in my PTR. This ensures that I have at least a small incentive to attend Ground School after a lesson as I can read his comments in class.

·         He gets (or at least can tolerate) my strange sense of humour and tendency to use vast amounts of profanity.

·         He’s actually a bloody good teacher. Having spent a large portion of my previous career evaluating teachers. I tend to pick up on the features that make good teachers good.  Bob has all those qualities and more. I can spot good teaching practice a mile off, it’s odd to be on the receiving end though. For the record I happen to be an appalling student ( more on that later)

The Gang from work - First initials only to preserve privacy. My group of friends from my workplace. Generally supportive. Willing to listen to what must be fairly tedious recounts of my lessons. Prepared to put up with the fact that it is all I ever talk about. Not a clue about how hard it actually is!

Ground School Group – The random mix of people I find myself with in the classroom, twice a week for 7 years (or is it weeks? Feels like years!). Some really great people to share a laugh and a story with and offer mutual support. Some really irritating people whom I would happily stab with an E6b. Some good instructors , some bad. Some interesting topics. Some boring.

Local Airport – conveniently located within walking distance of my home. Runways surrounded by water for added training incentive to nail those takeoffs and landings. Ferry ride was fun at the start, novelty quickly wears off.

The Hanger of Doom – Otherwise known as the location for Ground School. Ridiculously small, ridiculously hot and with a ridiculous number of people trying to cram into it. I hate that room. Also the location for my ground briefings with Bob. When we are doing S maneuvers, I also hate that room. Nothing worse than having your potential demise spelled out to you in nice colourful bullet points on the board. The furniture looks like it could get up and walk of its own accord. Did I mention how much I hate that room?

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Sometimes I like to pretend I don’t have feet.

During my first few flights I decided it would be a lot easier to pretend I had no feet.
With no feet, you don’t have to worry about doing stuff with the rudder. Flying seems easier that way!
(Yes, I am fully aware that this situation may not be able to continue for much longer)

About This Blog

This is not a blog to teach you how to fly. It isn’t a step by step guide to becoming a pilot. It is not even a coherent timeline through my training.
I like the sound of my own voice. I have a lot of random thoughts, sometimes with no audience present to benefit (?) from them. So I’m going to put them here.  The thoughts didn’t occur in chronological order, so neither do the posts.
At the time of starting this blog, I’m almost done with ground school (thank God!) and have just under 10 hours of flying time.  I’m in an unusual situation in that my husband (more about him later) has just completed his Private Pilot Licence, so I have more of an insight than a lot of people as to what is going on. I also get to fly with him, which is awesome!
I also have a fairly strong dislike of commercial planes and turbulence in general. The hope is that I will become more comfortable with what is going on and stop hyperventilating.
So really this blog is just an assortment of the random crap that flits through my head while I’m putting myself through this. Enjoy or Ignore as you please.

First Post

Ok so the template looks a mess, but I’ll sort that out eventually! Let’s get some content on here.  Ok so technically this isn’t the first post but the “TEST” one is a bit of a private joke so its going to stay for a while ( I may even get round to explaining it to you).  This is my first foray into the world of blogging…