Friday, 31 May 2013

Fun on the radio

I’m a lot happier with my radio work now, at least in the control zone around City. Which is good because I’ve rapidly come to realise a couple of things: 1) my accent is instantly recognisable to anyone on the airwaves. No hiding for me. 2) People judge your flying ability based on what they hear.

I’ve certainly been guilty of #2, last lesson we had just exited at Foxtrot and I was waiting to be able to get a word in edgeways and get some taxi clearance back. There was another guy on the frequency. It was painful to listen to. He couldn’t get his hold short readback correct. It took many attempts. I was lucky in that no one had landed behind me and wanted off the runway too. I got a tad frustrated, I may have been screaming at the guy (not over the radio) as to what ATC actually wanted him to do. It wasn’t difficult really! Even Bob was heard to remark dryly “I’ve negotiated a mortgage quicker than that guy got his taxi clearance!”
While I feel a certain degree of sympathy, no one finds radio work easy at first but even I subscribed to the adage when I was first learning “ Don’t press the trigger until you know what you are going to say” Large pauses off the air are better than a whole string of “umms and errs,”  on the air.

I know I was judging him, probably unfairly, because after I got my taxi clearance I was heard to comment to Bob “I’m just gonna wait until he gets out of the way because he doesn’t sound like he knows what he’s doing”
I hope that I project the opposite to ATC; I think that I sound like I know what I’m doing. I’m certainly trying really hard even if I do still get Ground and Tower mixed up (although to be fair they don’t make it any easier by dualling up on the frequencies). I’ve even got to the stage where I can anticipate what ATC might say to me, even pre-empt it on occasion, for example if I’m about to request taxi clearance and I see a plane being pushed back well then I might as well say “Request taxi to Hanger, I see the Dash 8 and will give way” because let’s face it they aren’t going to stop them for me, and I’ve just saved a back and forth between me and ATC.

On the flip side I think ATC get a pretty good picture of how I’m doing up there by the stress levels in my radio calls. A nice standard circuit in calm wind conditions might hear my readback as being a nice calm controlled “Cleared touch and go 26 Juliet Papa Mike” but if things start going a bit wonky or I’m in a 11 gusting 18 knot crosswind then they are lucky if they get a “julietpapamike” kind of exhaled at them. Sometimes I think they even take pity on me, after a particularly gruelling crosswind circuit session they kindly pointed out to me that an alternative runway was available.
So along with the commercial traffic who forget what their current callsign is (this always amuses me , but I totally understand how it happens), you have the student pilots with carrying levels of expertise along with the various ground support vehicles as well.

Last lesson Bob and I were mildly amused to hear of the Raccoon vs Maintenance saga, it lasted the entire duration of my taxi and run up checks. I also relieved to hear that the bird found on the threshold of 08, “appeared to have died of natural causes”!
I swear I’m not making any of this up!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

A lack of commitment.

Not to flying that’s for sure but to my landings in general.  The crosswind practice I got last time was very useful if a bit stressful as well. Eventually I found the sweet spot in the slip and began to execute something approaching a survivable crosswind landing. There were a lot of overshoots though. At one point I did accuse the Tarmac of magically repelling the plane, and the runway of “hating me.”

Reviewing the video though, I’m not convinced that the problem did lie with the Tarmac. I have a horrible suspicion that the problem lies with me. I just don’t commit to my landings. It’s like I’m looking for an excuse to bail out of them. Now I have enough confidence to know that I’m flying the first 90 % of any circuit pretty damn well, crosswinds or not. And 90% of the time my approaches are certainly tolerable. Hell I even know that 90% of the time I can salvage a slightly dicey approach as well, so why don’t I?
Ok so I was coming in a little on the fast side on some of my approaches. That’s fixable and reasonably quickly as well. I have faaaar more runway to play with than I allow myself to think. I aborted a couple of landings because I thought I was about to run out of Tarmac. I was only at Charlie when I made that decision. Even on a static take off roll Foxtrot is my decision point. I’ve seen RTH not get it off until Alpha before!

I don’t know what the issue is, other than it resides firmly inside my head.  While approaching every landing as a potential overshoot is usually a fairly healthy attitude, I have a feeling that Bob is going have to get a bit tougher on me and stop me taking the easy road out each time.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013


It’s funny (and not in a ha-ha kind of way) how my emotional state goes up and down depending on the proximity of an event. I’m at the moment contemplating the fact that I plan to go down to the flight school after work and sit the “pre solo to the practice area quiz” and get it out of the way.

Up until a few days ago I was raring to go, eager for the next stage in my training. Keen to push myself that little bit further. Determined that this time I’d go for it without all the angst involved in my previous solo attempts.
And so there I was primed and ready, thoroughly briefed by Bob and confident that I have what it takes. Then I started reviewing some of the material that Bob had gone through with me. Some of the less obvious stuff that I can’t work my way to an answer, the stuff that I need to memorise, a lot of which is the schools procedures and restrictions on students. One of the questions goes along the lines of “what is the maximum duration of your first solo flight to the practice area?” Fine, Bob and I discussed that, it’s one hour. My mind was obviously contemplating this as I wandered around work. In fairly quick succession the following thoughts occurred to me

·         Hmm cool! I’m going to get an entire hour of Solo time in my logbook in one flight! Nice!

·         Wow 1 hour represents 50% of my total solo time to date

·         A lot can happen in one hour

·         Oh crap, someone is stupid enough to contemplate giving me a plane to myself for an entire hour.

 So there we are, I have a horrible knot in my stomach and I can feel the anxiety levels rising. It'll gradually get worse until i get this solo-to-the-practice-area monkey off my back. Then once I do it I'll be back to "I-can-take-on-the world."

Looks like it could be a while though , we are into spring storm season at the moment

Sometimes I put myself through the most unnecessary crap.



Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The “talk”

To top off an exhausting flight today, Bob and I had an extended briefing as well. We needed some time to prep before the big “pre solo to the practice area quiz” that I need to sit. Now last time I sat one of these quizzes, it didn’t go down as planned. This time that isn’t going to happen, for a start it is open book. It’s more about knowing where I can find certain information rather than memorising it. It is about knowing what my VTA tells me about airspace and airports. About knowing how to respond to various scenarios that could potentially crop up. About knowing what my options are.

Bearing in mind that I’ve always harbored doubts about my ability to act correctly under pressure, I was pleasantly surprised by the way our chat went. Bob had a list of questions he was going to go through, obviously stuff that he needs to be sure I’m good with. None of the stuff he asked particularly fazed me. There was nothing really that I didn’t know or couldn’t work my way through. Even stuff that had me initially fumbling for an answer, I could figure my way through. It was a massive confidence booster if I’m completely honest. Listening to my own thought processes out loud, reassures me that I do actually have the ability to think these things through.
I have a coherent plan if I temporarily lose my bearings out there, I have a reasonable grasp of the options open to me if I need help, and I can say with a high degree of certainty that I have no hesitation in asking for that help either. I’ve also realised that with only a few exceptions, there’s nothing that’s going to happen to me that means I have to act instantly. I’ll have time to think. Time to evaluate my options.

Some of the stuff we covered was a little on the funny side. I understand completely why we have to talk about this stuff but it kind of tickled me that Bob has to make sure I comprehend that whenever I go to the practice area on my own it is important that I stick to the exercises we plan and discuss.

Don’t worry I have no plans to start improvising out there!


Monday, 27 May 2013

My office mate thinks I have a drink problem

Given the current state of my desk

I feel like a pilot…

…anyone know where I can get me a good looking one?

Seriously though, over the past few weeks I’ve mentioned that both Bob and I have noticed a massive change in my attitude and consequently my flying ability. It is hard to describe but for the first time since I started this whole shebang, I actually feel like I’m a pilot.
I know that I’m still struggling with some things but I’ve finally realised that I’m not struggling with anything that other pilots don’t. Hell even RTH admits that he needs crosswind practice on occasion. I am exactly where I need to be right now. Got the basics sorted, everything else now is finesse and pushing my boundaries a little. Bob’s good at the latter for sure!

RTH mocked warned me “everything is going to happen really quickly now.” He knows that I’m on the verge of heading to the practice area on my own. He says that before I know it I’ll be doing cross country flights, away to other airports both dual and on my own. Once that’s out the way, it’ll be flight test prep, it'll all pass in the blink of an eye.
While meaning this in a supportive and enthusiasm generating way, he did take a moment to twist the knife a little and say “So get your damn written test out the way!”



Sunday, 26 May 2013

I fought the wind…

…I think it ended up being a no-score draw!

I knew that today was going to be challenging. North winds forecast, that means two things.
1. 90 degree crosswind and
2. Mechanical turbulence.
Both things that are not exactly top of my “favourite things” list.
However; things have been going well the last couple of flights and I’ve gained a teeny tad of confidence, so I was “up for the challenge” as I said to Bob via text message the night before. It’s a good job as well because the conditions were, quite frankly brutal. 15 knot crosswind, some gusts and swinging round, varying anywhere from 290 to 020 degrees. Bob happily admitted that even as close as a few weeks ago he wouldn’t have bothered with a circuit lesson in those kinds of conditions. However he reckoned it was worth a bash, he thought I could do it.  

Who am I to argue?
It was hard work, the plane dancing all over the place, possibly a slight tail wind on takeoff, updrafts and down drafts a plenty. I took great pains to point out, as we suddenly lost a hundred feet or so of altitude, “that wasn’t me”. Said through gritted teeth as I struggled to level the wings and keep the circuit square.

Non pilots don’t realise just how much difference that crosswind makes. My legs and arms physically ache after that lesson. The plane fights, fighting back doesn’t exactly help either. You just have to roll with it, let the plane do its thing and then shove it back to where you want it.
I can’t say I exactly conquered the crosswinds today. I did struggle a little. A couple of overshoots because when the winds are at 90 degrees you have no headwind to help you lose altitude at all. The Tarmac repelled the plane. I struggled with the speed control as well. The gusts didn’t help but part of it was me having trouble keeping the crosswind inputs while not allowing the nose to drift down. I carried a little too much energy into some of my landings. But they did get better, so while I wasn’t 100% on top of those landings there was definite improvement. I’m happy with that.

A few weeks ago, a lesson like today would have been too much to cope with. The workload would have been too intense, the bumps and jolts too terrifying. Today the turbulence irritated but didn’t scare me. That’s a world away from where I was before
It’s all good stuff!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

My pledge

I will take the opportunity to solo next time it arises

I will not spend 24 hours procrastinating about whether I should or not
I will not whine and whinge about whether I’m capable or not

I will not require a ten minute pep talk from Bob before I commit to it
I WILL enjoy it.

After all, as someone on the internet said “ it’s actually kind of nice flying without the nagging from the other seat!”


Friday, 24 May 2013

So this is how it’s going to be?

Had a pretty decent flight out to the practice area and back. Achieved everything we wanted to including me getting lost. Yes, I got a little disoriented after our forced approaches and couldn’t quite figure out where I was. It didn’t bother me too much though. I had a plan. I was a bit low, so I planned to climb back up to at least 2000ft and do a slow 360 turn while I worked out just where the hell I was. It was hazy and the lake wasn’t immediately obvious but I realised that I just needed to turn south and I’d pick it up. Worst case scenario you head south until you hit the shoreline and follow it. I managed to pick up the highway before I hit the shoreline though.

Once I’d found that I was good, even if the mist was hiding the city completely.  It may sound bizarre but I wanted to get lost. You know it was my biggest fear, now I feel confident I have a plan if the worst should happen. Bob took the time to point out some landmarks, mostly to help ensure that I don’t bust the control zone of another local airport.
I was happy and relaxed on the trip home. Bob and I talked; he quizzed me on some emergency procedures. I worked my way through the scenario presented. Bob complimented me on my reasoning skills; he has the utmost confidence in my ability to work through a problem. We chatted about the traffic, the roads below us remarkably quiet. I’m beginning to understand where this concept of “spare time” might come from; you don’t suddenly get given it, it is drip fed to you slowly. Each flight you gain a little more of it.

So Bob and I chatted, I talked aloud as I planned our route, descent, frequency switches and radio calls. Lulled into a false sense of security I wondered aloud “So should I start bringing it down a bit here to join the circuit?”
Bob suddenly crossed his arms, sat back and turned his head away from me.

Realisation dawned quickly “Oh so THAT’S how it’s going to be then, eh?” I laughed! Bob joined in “Yep!”
“Fine!” I countered through mock-gritted teeth, “Let’s start bringing her down to join at circuit height!”

I had so much fun that flight, Bob and I both agree that it is a different person flying that plane now. She’s not bad at it either, if I do say so myself.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

A massive mental shift

While recounting various bits of my flight to RTH today, something rather dramatic occurred to me.

Now understand that today was far from a “standard” flight, High traffic volume meant a reasonable number of funky instructions from ATC and a need to have a very high level of situational awareness. Previously this would have stressed me out, left me sweating and cursing everyone in sight.
Today not only did I manage with surprisingly little in the profanity department but it occurred to me that I didn’t remember which bits of the flight Bob was in there with me and which bits I was solo for.

This is a massive mental shift because it means I’m not relying on him for any decisions. He’s a passenger, albeit a useful one to have around. The balance of power has shifted completely. Today, this was my flight. Both of them.
He asked me afterwards if I noticed a difference in my flying and attitude from this solo to the last one. I certainly do. So hard to put in words but I’m really taking ownership of these lessons, of these flights. I’m relying on him less and less and gradually developing my own style, my own way to fly.

It all feels so right at the moment. After a little dip in my confidence I’m beginning to see the big picture again.
I like the view from here!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The other “S” word

Bob is fully aware of my dislike of stalls, the only thing in the plane that whines louder than the stall horn is me.  Still I know I have to do them and I have to break the mental barrier of not being able to stall the plane. Seeing as last time I was persuaded to do some solo work, I knew that this time that I needed to do the other dreaded S word.

We briefed for a flight out to the practice area, some steep turns (worked in as part of the HASEL check) and then some stalls. In Bob’s words “nothing too drastic, we’ll start with some power off ones and then maybe progress to some at 1500rpm”
I agreed (what else was I going to do?) and we set out to the practice area.  The steep turns were ok, the ones to the left better than the right. After 720 + degrees I had to roll out of the right hand turn because I was getting dizzy!

Then the stalls, power off, full flaps. I made a distinct effort to lean back in the seat so that I wasn’t subconsciously pushing the controls forward.  We stalled. I recovered. I complained. Nothing new there.
Bob: “see that wasn’t so bad was it?

I blew a raspberry and gave him the thumbs down! But in reality I was ok
Bob: “let’s do another”

So we did. I’m not a fan, but I survived.
We climbed back up to 3300ft, turned round so we were in our little section of the practice area.

Bob: “OK WMAP, set us up 1500rpm and full flaps”
Me: “I really don’t want to”

Bob : “Ok , do you want me to demo one? I have control”
Me: “NO!! I don’t want you to, I guess I’ll do it”

Apparently the thought of experiencing a stall where I’m not in control of the recovery scares me worse than actually doing them!
So I did one, the wing dropped a little. I picked it up with the rudder. Done! Out the way. Or so I thought

``That was great WMAP, let’s do another, while we are on a roll”
So we did, this time the other wing to what I was expecting dropped. I realised just in time that I was about to step on the wrong rudder.

“I’d be so happy WMAP if we did another one of those”
I pull a face, we do another

And another
And another

All the time Bob pushing me to try it one more time, again and again.

The problem with asking someone to bully you is that occasionally they do. Whether you like it or not. I never should have given him permission to! I'm so easily manipulated into doing what Bob wants, it's ridiculous.
Seriously though, I’m never going to be a fan of stalls but the fear is gone. I know that I can cope with the worst that they can throw at me.  Lesson achieved, even if I do feel like I’ve been through the ringer.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Demolishing those demons.

I banished a lot of demons back to whence they came today. I’m really beginning to understand the psychological benefits of solo flying.

Your first solo flight is a big deal, it is the first time you sit in that plane, knowing that you control everything, every decision, every input. It’s a reward, for surviving the first phase of training. Surviving all those gut wrenching manoeuvres you did out at the practice area. Surviving hour after hour after hour of tarmac bashing in the circuit. For putting up with practice emergency after emergency. For every evil trick scenario your instructor ever pulled on you.
It is an amazing feeling that you simply cannot describe to someone who doesn’t fly and it represents an important milestone, your first log book line as Pilot In Command.

After that though you may think that there isn’t much to gain form further solo flights. As a student you are limited as to what you can do when you are up there on your own. I can’t waive wake turbulence separation. I can’t accept a left downwind for 08, I can’t do spirals or spins*. There's no one up there with you to offer advice or tips. At first appearances it might seem that the learning options are limited.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, the benefits from solo flying aren’t physical, they are psychological. Every solo flight I do, I banish another of my inner demons. At first it was the uncertainty of if I could actually fly solo. Banished with a solitary circuit. Then the anxiety of what happens if I screw up my landings, vanquished with two bounce and goes where I totally bailed out of the landings, thus making the right choice.

And today, today I conquered many many demons.
I was on 08, I didn’t beach the plane on my preflight checks and I didn’t wipe out any Porters either. Despite being sandwiched between two of them.

ATC got me to do some funky stuff and it didn’t freak me out too much. I coped. Didn’t even swear that much either.
I had to request a stop and go because ATC couldn’t clear me for a touch and go. Then they couldn’t offer that. I knew I’d have to land, taxi round and then takeoff. This didn’t bother me.

I had the presence of mind and the time to look at my watch and realise that someone else had the plane in 5 minutes time, so I was going to have to cut it down to two circuits from the planned three.
I screwed up on my taxi in. I leaned out the mixture too much. The engine coughed to a stop. After a moment of blind panic, I set the mixture to ICO, set the throttle 1/16th of an inch and fired her up. “Emergency” over!

All of the above just reinforcing that I do have decision making abilities, that I can manage. Something Bob has been saying all along. Maybe now I’ll believe him.

*Not that I have any real desire to!

Monday, 20 May 2013

The loneliness of the long distance final

The video of my latest solo flight is on YouTube. Actually this represents the only solo flight I’ve managed to capture on video for various reasons. I thought it might be a bit of a laugh to provide you with a bit of a running commentary as to what I was thinking at various points or what I think now, looking back on it all:

00:18 – JES is requesting that you get that Porter out of my way before you let me go anywhere
00:50 – OK lets go, please don’t run over me Mr. Porter, sir

00:59 – Giving way, with pleasure!
01:18     Cool, he’s waving at me!

04:33 – Ok corner, I don’t like you and you don’t like me. Let’s see if I can get somewhere close to where I’m meant to stick this thing
04:55 – I’m not convinced I haven’t taken a little off tarmac jaunt here, Oh Crap! Hello Mr. other Porter. Did anyone order a WMAP sandwich?

05:16 – looking back I’m particularly proud (NOT!) of the barely concealed level of rising panic in my voice here
06:10 – no way out now, let’s do this thing

06:16 – ready may not be the right word here
06:44 – Full throttle and away she goes

07:13 – that seemingly unproved display of profanity is purely due to the fact that I realise I’ve reached the point of no return; the only way out now is to land this thing. Eek!
07:38 – Fairly certain that instruction was meant for me, but I’m just going to be very quiet.

07:40 – yep I was right
09:48 – Ok let’s turn behind the traffic I was following , set up for a nice base turn. ATC is busy can’t get my call in

10:03 – I can’t continue in a downwind that I’m not in. I’m on base whatcha want me to do?
10:10 – OK new one on me, I guess I’m heading back downwind then. For some reason I decide to bring the flaps back up and set cruise power again. This probably takes me a little too far downwind. To compensate for being out over the water I climb a little

11:00 – Finally, set up for approach and landing
11:30 – I’m not sure I’ve ever been on a 2.5 mile final before. This is going to be a long one

12:20 – That’s ok. I know what to do here. I want to land so I’ll request a stop and go. Only fair to mention that I’ll need the backtrack as well.
12:30 – Ok, no big deal. Looking back I should have realised that there was traffic behind me and requested the full field circuit. At this moment I have enough situational awareness to understand what is going on in front of me but not behind. That’ll come in time

13:15 – what I really mean is why is this taking so long? I have failed to account for the fact that my groundspeed is considerably reduced by the strong headwind. It is taking forever to get anywhere. I could have carried just a little more speed on the long final and then retrimmed at my “normal” final turn point.
14:33 – Did I do something wrong here? He sounds a bit p!ssed off. No time to think, make the turn and set back up again

15:20 – Ok there’s some funky stuff going on here, I think I’m going to be ahead of UOB. I’ll just carry on this heading at the moment but he’ll probably get me to join an extended downwind
15:29 – hello? I hope he remembers I’m here I do not want a trip out over the lake.

15:45 – thank you!
16:38 – please let me land this time

17:08 – Its 10:50. I only have the plane until 11:00. Time to get this girl on the ground
18:08 YAY!!!

18:33 – Find that centre line
19:40 – Actually that wasn’t too bad. Massive sigh of relief

19:46 – Don’t exit onto 33 if he doesn’t tell you. At this point I realise he’s busy with other radio traffic so I’ll be exiting at Foxtrot.
20:00 – And off I go, slow her down a bit, no high speed cornering!

20:15 DO NOT take it on the grass!
20:44 – I think I say all that needs to be said on the video. I leaned back the mixture a little too much. The engine quit on me

20:47 – Stupid, stupid, stupid! What are you going to do?
20:48 – Ok quick start procedure; ICO, throttle set 1/16th inch , mags to “start”, advance mixture

20:57 – THANK YOU!!!
21:11 – I wanna come home now

22:00 – Do not hit anything
22:15 – Normally I’d stick it right outside that hanger, what to do?

22:22 – Ah big shiny arrow painted on ground, that’ll do.
22:56 – that sweet sound of nothing as the engine is shut down. I’m done and we both survived!


Sunday, 19 May 2013

I think I p!ssed off ATC

I soloed and it wasn’t without incident. Nothing dangerous or massively scary but not exactly according to plan either.

The original plan was for three circuits. In Bob’s words “just keep on doing what you’ve been doing.”
I took off, turned crosswind when prompted and tried hard to keep parallel to the runway. There was a lot of traffic around, tons of radio chatter. One guy covering both tower and ground and there was a lot of movement on both.

I turned base, couldn’t get a call in because of the traffic. I powered back and dropped the requisite 10 degrees of flaps. Then ATC deigned to remember me
“Juliet Echo Sierra , maintain downwind, I’ll call your base”

“I’m already on base, confirm you want me to return to downwind”

Ooooooookaaaay. So I’ll turn back to a downwind heading, maybe clean up the flaps and return to cruise power. Humber bay looks kinda pretty from up here. Don’t normally get to see it. Maybe gain a little height I’m a bit far out over the water.

Eventually I turn base. I’m on a two and a half mile final. Looooong. Set up for a nice stable approach though. Speeds good, hold off on the flaps a bit and we should be good.
Wow this is a really long final, why is this taking sooooo long? OK, keep your focus, maintain that centre line.

“Juliet Echo Sierra, pull up and go around, make a right turn”
Power in, clean up the flaps. Did I do something wrong?

No time to worry about that now. Fly the plane. Hold your course. Watch your altitude and go round for another bash at it.
Eventually I get to turn base again, set up for a nice approach. Speed is perfect. Time to evaluate my surroundings. Its 10:50, the next student has the plane from 11:00

“City Tower, making this one a full stop, Juliet Echo Sierra”
I land, pretty sweet one, mains first then the nose. Remember not to exit onto 33 unless told to. He’s on the radio, no chance of that early exit.

Come off at Foxtrot, taxi her back in, shut it down. Bob appears in the window. Open the door.
“So how’d it go?”

“I think I p!ssed off ATC!!!”
Turns out I didn’t really. I was a bit slow on final because of the headwinds. The spacing didn’t work out and they had to overshoot me because the Porter couldn’t dial it back anymore. Maybe a more experienced pilot would have kept the speed up on final, but I did what I was comfortable with. I was safe if just a little inexperienced.

No harm, no foul. I really don't want to upset those guys if I can help it.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Decisions, decisions.

A mildly rough week at work, OK so some of it was self-inflicted, some of it was the usual bat shit craziness that comes with my workplace. Two things kept me going, the knowledge that this is a long weekend (and I’ve taken Tuesday off as vacation) and the knowledge that even the most pessimistic forecasters all agree that the weather was going to be totally bitchin’ flying wise!

Friday night arrived; I didn’t even bother to stalk the TAF like I normally do. It was obvious that the weather was going to be just great. I got a text from Bob pretty much confirming what I’d worked out for myself “winds look great for duel/solo circuits or we can stick with the original plan of out to the practice area and stalls. No hurry we can talk tomorrow”
Just to show you how much my mind flip-flops between emotional states, I was contemplating earlier this week broaching the subject of solo time with Bob. Intellectually I know that I need more of it and I actually want to get more of it. I felt this way right up until Saturday morning. Then reality bit. The familiar lead lump in the pit of my stomach, the adrenaline, the anxiety.
The decision wasn’t helped by the fact that the winds, although straight down the runway, were pushing 15 knots. This is right on the bubble for the school’s limits for solo students and although CYTZ’s TAF wasn’t showing anything CYYZ was calling for the winds to get gusty.
Oh the agony, Bob left he call up to me, as we stood by the dispatch desk. We both agreed that there was learning value in both options. I hesitated and procrastinated. I couldn’t decide. Bob spotted something was up. He led me in to the classroom next door to talk about it.
My usual honest self I admitted “I know I need to do both of these, but I’m worried that I’m avoiding both of them. I’m scared that by going to the practice area, I’m avoiding the solo time but I’m scared that by doing the solo then I’m avoiding the stalls.”
 Quietly Bob talked me through the circuit; what he was looking for, what I needed to work on, how much better my circuit flying had become. We talked through what the wind strength and direction meant in terms of crosswind drift. He reassured me that the stronger headwinds would make life easier for me.
And then calmly and matter of factly he told me we would do some dual and solo circuits. No option of “let’s get up there and see how you do.” If we did circuits I was going to solo. Bob provided the perfect counterpoint to my histrionics. Calm, unflappable, totally and utterly unwavering in his belief that I could do this. Not allowing me to talk myself out of it. Insistent yet reassuring that it was all going to be alright.
It wasn't "alright".
Actually it was freakin’ amazing!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Idiots on the internet.

I’m kinda procrastinating at works at the moment. Got lots I could be doing but nothing I really want to. So I’m on the Internet finding some ways to waste time while still telling my conscience that I’m doing something useful, honest!

Yep I’m stalking Internet forums again. Aviation based ones. Along with the usual sensible questions from student pilots, occasionally an odd one gets thrown in. The topic currently under discussion is How many crash landings has your instructor had?”

Like it is some kind of badge of honour or something.
My Answer
I don’t know
I don’t need to know

None with me on board (despite my best efforts!)

Seriously, what is wrong with these people?