Now that I’ve survived the cross country experience I feel the need to expand on this post a little.
I was not in a good frame of mind. I’d done all the “shoving numbers into boxes” planning that I needed to do, now I was attempting to visualise the flight. Figure out what I needed to do, where I needed to do it and how I needed to be speaking to at the time.
As I looked at the stack of paperwork in front of me, consisting of
- A flight planning sheet for every leg (so times 3)
- A flight summary sheet to go on my knee board for each leg (3)
- A weight and balance sheet for each leg (3)
- An index card with an airport diagram and every radio frequency needed as well as a brief summary of the call, for each leg (3)
- A VTA marked with as much of the route on it as possible, along with pencil marks depicting key points (call points, descents etc.)
- Ditto VNC
- An E6b
- A pencil and pen
I was suddenly overwhelmed by the enormity of the task in front of me. Every time I looked at the stack, I recalled something else that it was vitally important that I remember. I was never, ever going to manage this.
I told Bob as much.
I didn’t feel ready. I didn’t feel prepared but something kept niggling in the back of my mind. Weeks ago Bob had asked me “What do you feel you need to practice before our Cross Country flight?”
I didn’t have an answer. I knew what I needed to do; I just wasn’t convinced I could.
In which case, I’d never be ready. I had nothing to change.
It really was going to be now or never.
I oscillated between the two options, leaving Bob in an impossible position. He can push me, but only so far. I need a nudge but he can’t force me into that plane.
He has other students to deal with and disappears off , the next time he sees me, I’m phoning in a flight plan. Strangely enough the thought of this no longer terrifies me; quite frankly it’s the least of my problems. “There, now I can’t back out.” I explain.
Of course I know that flight plans can be cancelled but I’m trying desperately to do this despite the voices in my head.
I tell Bob I can’t do it. I tell RTH I can’t, I text my friend A from ground school to voice my fears.
Every single one of them is unanimous in their opinion.
I can do this. A texts me a whole slew of motivational texts, RTH tells me what I already know. Bob, well Bob’s just Bob.
I choose to believe them, right up to the moment I put my hand on the plane door and open it.
“I can’t do this,” I plead with Bob, turning away from the plane.
And yet; somehow, magically, I do.