One of the fantastic things about the 99s meeting was the sheer range of flying experience. Ranging from senior commercial pilots flying 777s for a living to us weekend warriors right the way down to student pilots.
Everyone was interested in each other’s story, the commercial captains remembering what it was like to be a pre solo student. There was no judgement, no competition, just pilots encouraging other pilots.
After a few conversations I realised something fascinating, any initial conversation between two strangers inevitably started with “so what do you fly?” (BTW a C172 is by far the most common answer!)
Follow on questions might be
· So how long have you been flying
· Where are you based out of
· How long have you been with the 99s?
Not ONCE did I hear anyone ask “How many hours do you have?” Regular readers will know that this question is my pet peeve.
It simply didn’t seem to matter. I was amongst a significant group of women who had taken multiple years to get their PPL.
Most saw it as the advantage that it was, that we’d acquired more experience, a broader range of conditions. The general consensus being that no flight time was wasted flight time!
I think as a student you can get caught up, no matter how hard you try, in the “how many hours” game.
The question of choice, when speaking to a student pilot, seemed to be a simple “so how’s it going?”
That is such a low pressure question, it opens up the floor toy talk about anything you want. It could be a “yeah I soloed a few weeks ago, now I’m just pounding out the circuits” or a “just got to nail those landings then I’m gonna be all on my own” or possibly a “yep, just waiting on the weather and then its solo cross country time”
It such a better question to ask. There’s no judgement involved and it actually opens the path to a dialogue rather than just a number.
Let’s all try to use it more often.