Saturday, 3 August 2013

Might as well be a passenger.

Not me, Bob!

By his own admission, a lot of the time I really don’t need him in the plane any more.  We both see the difference in my flying and general outlook. I’m a world away from where I was. It doesn’t seem to make a difference to me if Bob is in the plane or not. My flying is the same, my constant monologue unchanged by Bob’s presence or lack thereof. I’m noticing it more and more that I am truly am “in command” of the situation.
My last flight should have been relatively straightforward, out to Claremont with Bob to do some slow flight and stalls. I’d already made the decision that this was going to be my flight. Bob might have been on board but I was going to do this my way. I wasn’t going to second guess myself, constantly ask for advice or anything like that. I was going to fly and Bob, well he just happened to be on board at the time. Talkative ballast if you like!

This is kind of important; Bob’s role is changing. It’s gone from teaching to monitoring really. He needs to check that I haven’t picked up any bad habits, any sloppy techniques and correct if necessary between my solo flights. That’s the change in balance here. I’m going to go from solo flights being a rare and exciting event, to them being the norm. I’ll do more and more stuff on my own with Bob just checking in occasionally.
I’m feeling just a little more confident about this now. I mean I can handle stuff. I can handle ATC not letting me land. I can handle them calling me to tell me the weather is crappy (with the unspoken undertone being we really don’t recommend you fly in this stuff!) I handled that entire conversation with only a glance at Bob to see what he wanted to do instruction wise. I didn’t need any help. Once I got over the initial surprise at being asked JPM are you still on ground?” I cautiously replied back “City ground this is JPM” and listened to what they had to say. I told them to “standby” while I briefly glanced at Bob and shrugged my shoulders.

Obviously if I’d have been on my own I would have “request taxi back to Hanger 4” and shut her down but with Bob on board I had other options.  He reckoned we could do a couple of circuits, so I got back to ATC and told them that’s what we were doing. I dealt with that and the fact they were going to taxi a Porter in front of me, without even acknowledging Bob’s presence. Yet at the same time I can see him observing me, assessing my ability to handle these situations. I think I’m passing so far.
Even during the circuit, I’m doing my standard talking to myself thing. The usual “watch your air speed WMAP”

“Why are you so fast............. because you’ve left it late to put those flaps down, you’re high and diving for the runway. Stop it”
All of it standard stuff and none of it needing any input from Bob whatsoever. He’s probably solving complex engineering issues in his head while I’m cursing at the throttle! I even had enough spare capacity of short final to comment “Wet runway, I guess braking’s going to be an issue then?”

That’s what they mean by “being ahead of the plane”.
I’m even kind of treating him like a passenger, on my full stop landing we bounced a little. Nothing major; a gentle bounce, if that’s not an oxymoron. I apologised “oops, sorry!” in the same way you might apologise to your car passenger when pulling up to a stop sign a little harshly.

I’m feeling on top of the world right now. My plane, my flight, my decisions and my passenger!


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