Thursday, 27 November 2014

Never ready

One of the things that plagued me throughout my training was my lack of belief that I was ready to do certain things.

I knew I would never, ever feel ready for my first solo, clinging on to Bob’s presence in the cockpit like a safety blanket.  It was always touch and go as to whether I was ever going to agree to him getting out. Even now I’m still not convinced that I was ready. Bob obviously differed in his opinion!
I didn’t feel ready to do my solo cross country;  I had a serious moment or two in the flight school that morning. I wasn’t exactly crying (I don’t do the public crying thing) but I was definitely emotional and on the ragged edge.  I oh so nearly did not get in that plane.  I’m not exaggerating when I say I literally put one hand on the door of the plane and then turned away, ready walk back into the flight school and give up.

My second cross country was slightly better. I’d been cancelled off due to weather so many times that I was itching to get it done. I suspect I was very much of the mindset of “well what else can go wrong? I couldn’t find either of the airports on my first trip.” Of course I had no idea that the Harvards were going to throw me a serious curveball.

Once they were out of the way. Bob and I knew that it was all flight test prep from here. Once again I didn’t think I’d ever get there. The power on stalls were a serious problem for a long time. I suspect I had Bob pulling his hair out over those.  Just as I got bogged down in the circuit for what seemed like forever, I got mired down in the airwork. Hovering at the “close, but not quite good enough”  level.
My flight test seemed an eternity away, which for a while was ok, I couldn’t even contemplate taking my checkride.

Then I started getting annoyed with myself. I began to resent the airwork, I enjoyed flying; I didn’t enjoy the constant stall after stall after stall.

What was probably blatantly obvious to anyone else, came slowly to me. The realisation that the only thing standing between me and me flight test was, well, me! So out went the frustration and on came the game face.

Focus, focus, focus, every flight.

When the frustration and impatience boiled over, Bob kept saying the same thing to me “we’ll both know when it’s time for your flight test.”

I couldn’t comprehend what he meant. I was terrified at the thought. It was “first solo” time all over again. I’d never agree to it. I had a suspicion in the back of my mind that Bob’d have to book it without me knowing or something.

But surely enough we got there.  Bob chose another instructor for me to have a practice flight test with and suddenly I realised that I could actually do this.

Oh for sure it wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t that bad either. It was certainly good enough that Bob did my letter of recommendation there and then.  We started talking dates.

Amazingly Bob had been right after all.

I was ready and I knew it.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew that my passing wasn’t a certainty. I was still more than capable of messing something up. But I was equally capable of getting through it intact as well.
It was time for sure.

Well we all know how it went down. I passed.

At the very end of the debrief the examiner asked me if there was anything unusual or unexpected about the test itself.

I contemplated this for a good few moments and concluded “No, it all went exactly as I knew it would.”

And it had, exactly as I’d done with Bob and TOI.

“Well Bob prepared you well then” was the examiners final comment to me.

And he had. Both in terms of skill but also psychologically; I was as well prepared mentally as I was physically.

And now I’m a pilot and I’ve taken passengers who survived the experience!

I think that the best way I can pay Bob back for all his hard work, commitment and belief in me is to simply get out there and use my licence.

And that is exactly what I plan to do. I have a mission. I'll tell you about it later!

Now if someone could just tell the weather!


  1. It sounds like you experienced a lot of the same struggles I am, including the mental & psychological ones. At this point I wonder if I'll ever get the hang of power-on stalls. They're very unnerving for me. But then again, so were steep turns, and I'm nailing those now, so it's just a matter of time & practice, feeling comfortable with my ability to do the maneuver & focusing on just executing it. I still have my medical flight test to schedule (necessary due to a visual deficit in my right eye), RC is looking into exactly what we need to do at the nearest FSDO. I have the necessary authorization letter, etc, but I need to have soloed the plane first. think once I have the medical clearance out of the way I'll breathe easier.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience with the world. I know for me, it's definitely helped to know that everything I'm going through is exactly what someone else has gone through, and according to RC, pretty much everyone else has the same experience. Good luck with the weather, hope you have some clear skies & calmer winds soon!

    1. I've emailed you via the address on your profile. I hope it helps :)