Fear has always been my biggest problem. Fear does stupid stuff to your brain and impairs your judgement.
If I can conquer the fear then I know everything will be OK. My problem is that my mind is very good at throwing up the “what if?” scenarios. Constantly trying to find the worst possible circumstances and rooting them firmly in my mind.
The other day I was watching some unexpected fog roll in, mindful that this is becoming increasingly common given the humid but cooler summer that we’ve had. The first thought that went through my mind was “omg, what if I was flying and got caught in that?” It made my blood run cold to think of it. Being stuck in visibility that is measured in mere feet rather than miles.
Then I started to think, properly this time. Ok well I’d probably have about 4 hours worth of fuel on board (I never go out with less than half tanks)
So you fly somewhere else, somewhere that isn’t fog bound. You don’t even have to land. Just hold until it has cleared (these conditions tend to be very transient).
How do you know where to fly to? You call London radio, tell them you’ve got caught in weather and let them help you. Climb so that you are higher than any of the objects on your chart and work the situation. Trust your instruments to keep you straight and level. Trust ATC to point you in the right direction.
Even if you do end up having to land at another airport, an unfamiliar one, well so what? You contact them (again ATC can give you the frequency if you don’t have the spare capacity to look it up) and tell them exactly what is going on. Unfamiliar pilot wanting to land.
They will help you. I know this. I’ve taken advantage of this.
So what’s to fear?
Ok, well it is obviously not being stuck in weather. Apparently I have a plan for that. It must be something else.
Previously it was the dreaded “power on stalls”. I hated them. I did stupid stuff because I hated them. This made me tense and nervous for the entire flight. The anticipation of having to carry them out, the anger at myself when I screwed them up.
Now that’s gone too. I know I can do them. Properly. I may dislike the physical sensations. The screaming of the stall horn but I manage.
So what if the wing drops? I know what to do. Even better I’ve got the hang of not letting it drop in the first place!
I have nothing to fear but fear itself as someone much smarter than me once said.
I also have a lesson booked on Saturday and looking at the weather the conditions are possibly going to be a little on the marginal side. I should probably try to fly in them though. Push my comfort zone and banish the fear once and for all.