Monday, December 17, 2012

Won't you Catch up Already?

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Turns out after not flying in months, you're pretty rusty! That's a given, though. So obviously, after being absent from flying in so long I've had to do some catching up, getting myself back up to where I was before. I did the usual, went out, did some maneuvers, came back and stayed in the pattern, just getting my feet a little wet. At first I was second guessing myself, but after a little while I felt it slowly coming back. I deposited $3500 into my account there so that I wouldn't spend that money. So from here on out, I'll just have that added to my "total spent" since I'll be using it all for my training anyways.

I've had four lessons in a row canceled on me. The weather in the pacific northwest is always crappy this time of year. I did do a ground lesson though and performance landings and take offs. Next: read up on VORs (which I haven't even began).

On a side note, I'm having some difficulties with my candidacy for the marines. The doctors told me my eyes were worse than what I was a year ago, way worse. I decided to get a second opinion. Worried this might effect my eligibility I contacted the captain. He told me, we're waiting to hear back, but that things look good and I shouldn't worry about it. I have OCS prep soon. Not going to lie, I'm terrified. I'm working double hard during my workouts, trying to get as strong as I can, as fast as I can. The only problem is- with these new workouts it's taking me two days instead of one to recover. It's also cutting into my run time.  I could go run, but what if I injure myself? I'm stuck in this constant, need to run, should run, but worried about injury mindset. How far is too far to push myself?

Meanwhile, I've just started studying for my written. I wanted to do it during my Christmas break. But I was under the assumption Id be using this flight time for cross country, not getting back up to solo. Irritating, but necessary since I've taken so much time off. Not flying for those months really set me back. I'm not about to let that stop me though!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fall Flying

After a few months of practically no flying (well me at the controls anyways) I’m happy to report that I’ll be back at it until I get my license this time,  assuming the weather plays nice.  I’ve decided the ‘perfect’ time to get my license will never occur. I’ll always be busier than I’d like, so I might as well hit the ground running. At least if I start back up now, I can hopefully start my cross country before my winter break at the college. I’m shooting for taking my written then as I’ll be able to eat, breathe, and sleep aviation for two-three whole weeks. It all depends on the weather though, so I guess we’ll see.  Fingers crossed for a few months of decent weather (or at least on the days I fly). As for an update on how the Marine situation is going, my run time isn’t improving as fast as I’d like,  I’m still waiting to hear back on all my medical exams, and I’ve got a COIN class and TDG (tactical decision games) discussion on the 17th. Should be a great learning experience.
 Until next time, keep the blue side up.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Some Encouragement

Wow. Has it been awhile! It's been some time since I've written on here, I'll admit I've just been being lazy and avoid anything remotely school related. Yes- that means taking time out of my day to write, even to simply blog. Not for any reason besides wanting to enjoy my vacation as much as I can. Some good that did me though, I ended up being swamped with Marine things. So how did my PFT (or rather partial PFT) go? It actually wasn't too bad, I was the only girl, but despite that I was able to hold my own just fine. I recently got done with another PFT (this time run included and I wasn't the only girl!). I'm happy to report that I maxed out on both the flex arm hang and got 99 sit ups- just 1 away! Talk about embarrassing. I got a black shirt though. My brother was quite upset, as he had been wanting the black but ended up getting the blue shirt. I'm not exactly sure how it works, I guess if you don't max out you get a blue shirt and if you do they give you the black (of course, they don't have girl sizes so I need to have it fitted). As for the run, well that didn't go quite as well as I had hoped. Early on I ended up getting this massive side stitch, refusing to completely stop, I slowed down and dug my hand into my side trying to push the pain out. Eventually it either went numb, or just faded away. Regardless, I'm sure I was a sight for sore eyes. My 3-mile run time was 28:39. Horrible. I know I can do better. I'm chalking it up to my injury. I actually didn't feel ready to run, seeing as how I've been gradually re-increasing my mileage (I had to stop running for a complete month). After the PFT I could feel my muscles tightening. The old injury was sore the next day and though that leg was completely stiff, I felt no pain when I walked. A good sign. I think I may actually be fully healed this time! The captain told all of us that one way to improve our time is to just get out there and run 30 minutes every other day, later do some intervals. That Friday though, he told me to only do 20 minutes. I'm underweight, and need to gain weight so I don't get disqualified. They basically talked to me for over 30 minutes on my eating habits. I just have a high metabolism. And I eat healthy. It's not my fault. But 10 pounds I need to gain, so 10 pounds I will gain. The good news though, was that the captain did say he was confident I'd get selected and that I wouldn't be there with him talking to me like that if he wasn't  That made me feel better. I've been worried about it. I mean, I can't even push the tiny 152 back into her spot, how in the world am I going to be able to get through training?

"You're one tiny girl. But you're tough."

The challenge has officially been accepted. The only thing that will stop me is something that will be out of my control. Other than that, I refuse to back down. I've watched this process slowly consume me. Each day I want it more, I work harder, I push myself further. Each day I realize this feels right, this is where I need to be. And for every person who tells me I can't do it, or bashes on this process just gives me the encouragement and motivation to prove them wrong. Because there is nothing I enjoy more than proving people wrong.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Almost Back to Normal

Things have finally slowed down for me. Chemistry is over, so no more 13 hours days at the college, though I still have my other classes. I talked to my recruiter about my injury, he told me we'd just leave the run out and do everything else. I didn't know you could do that, so next Wednesday at noon I'll be down there, hopefully scoring well. In other news, I should be back flying within the next two weeks and will hopefully be flying consistently like I was previously. I have enough time now, so there's no reason why I can't. Lately, I feel like my life's been in overdrive and now that I have the time to rest I don't know what to do with myself. It's an odd feeling, wishing that things could slow down so you can rest and when they finally do and you're rested up, you're bored out of your mind. I think I'll try and pick up more hours at work until fall classes start up. But for now, I've got a speech to write up and some workouts to do. Fingers crossed that when I write here again, I'll be talking about how great I did on my partial PFT.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Life is Rough and Thank You's Aren't Enough

July 13, 2012
Pain Field
Cessna 152
0.9 hours 6 landings


I’ve been so busy lately I’ve been neglecting my flying to the max. At first it was studying for finals; my GPA is very important to me, so I saw it as a “I’ve got plenty of time to get my flight training done, but I need to study now to do well on the final.” Once finals were over, I scheduled a lesson, though the weather showed it was VFR conditions when I left my house, by the time I got there it was apparent the field would be going IFR. I was bummed I’d have to reschedule but it wasn’t a complete waste of a drive. I ended up sitting down and discussing where I felt I’d be going with my CFI, to get his input on it since he’s been around more people who are doing what I am than I have. I thought who better to ask? Worried at first about the decision I’d made, he confirmed the information I had been given and it put me at ease. I will admit, I’m still terrified by what I’m doing, but it’s exhilarating at the same time.

I finally made the decision. I’m currently in the application process of going into the Marines to fight to become commissioned (officer) and then fight for a pilot slot. I have my first PFT August 8th, I just found out yesterday. I hurt my ankle a few weeks back so as you can imagine I’m freaking out. I need to have my 3 mile run no more than 25 minutes. I’m not so worried about the flex arm hang, it’s purely mental, and as for the crunches, I’ve got that down pretty well. My ankle and my run is what I’m most worried about. I also leave for MEPS sometime next month, and if all goes well and I get accepted, I leave for Platoon Leaders Class next May. I may not get accepted though, and that worries me. Everything about this process is pure competition. And though I’m a competitive person, I haven’t been preparing myself for this like I’m sure many others have.

As if that wasn’t stressful enough, I’m still full time at my college. Yes, even throughout summer. In fact, twice a week I’m at that damn school for 13 hours! I’ll break it down for you; 08:00-09:30 yoga, 10:00-01:30 chemistry 02:00-05:00 chemistry lab, 05:30-09:00 Speech class. The other 2 days I’m there for 6 hours. I have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off from classes, but I work. From 04:00am-12:30pm all three days. And on Saturdays I volunteer with the team, from 02:00pm-04:30pm.

Needless to say; I’m exhausted, stressed, drained and frazzled.

I’m nonstop almost every day of the week. I always have something that HAS to be done, and with all the homework I’ve got I’m only getting 4-5 hours of sleep a night. I made sure to tell my CFI I probably won’t be flying again this month, I simply have too much going on. I don’t think I could juggle anything more even if I tried. There is no way I could be flying right now, my mind is in overdrive, I’m stressed out and worried about everything.

So, to get back to my flight lessons and training. My lesson this day was to just ease me back into it as I hadn’t flown in weeks. We practiced a Short Field take-off; I was instantly smiling allowing the airplane to wash my stress away. Then he had me take us out of the pattern, just for a little bit so I could remember what it felt like to be up there again-how I missed it so. After that we stayed in the pattern where I worked on my landings. Though my CFI said it was like riding a bike, it most certainly was not! Not the landings anyways. I think some of my worst landings were that day! Though Ryan said he expected worse for me not flying in so long. Not sure if that was a compliment or not. I’ll just blame it on the crosswinds though, yep, that was it. After getting a feel for what it was like landing again and once I stopped second guessing everything I was doing my landings began to improve and I’m happy to report towards the end I finally just kissed the runway. When we landed I felt like a burden had been lifted from my shoulders; I had turned my back on my flight training, it had not turned its back on me. Even more so then than ever, I knew that the path I had decided to walk on would be worth it. I felt at such peace with myself, nothing could bring me down that day. I can’t explain, though I have tried. When I’m flying I shut everything down but the then and there, nothing on the ground matters when you’re up above and nothing can hold you down.

My flight school reminded me of what I loved so much as a kid. And though none of them probably think about it, they’re the reasons dreams come true. Both my ground school instructor and CFI have on at least one occasion brought up where they wished they had gotten their degree in something else so that they could be working at Boeing, or be making more money. But don’t they realize they’re a part of something more? I know they aren’t getting paid much for what they’re doing but both of them have shaped me in ways no other teacher has. I don’t think I could ever thank either of them enough. In fact, where ever it is I go in life, it will be because of them. And if my dream comes true, I will forever be in their debt. I probably will cry when I leave my flight school for PLC and then off to Florida. How could I not? Everything I’m doing now is because of them. They didn’t see it, but when I first walked in there my dreams were fading, I was giving up on what made me me and I had accepted I’d never get to fly, I’d never get close to space. Life after high school came down rough on me, I had to take two quarters off from college to help raise my mom’s child, I had to get a part time job at some hole in the wall. I was essentially, dying inside, turning into a zombie like everyone else around me. That flight school pulled me up from drowning. Made me kick my butt into gear and tell the rest of the world to leave me alone. I’d be doing what I wanted, and what I needed to do. Without my flight school, I’d probably be a drop out right now, working full time, trying to keep my head above water. I will admit I’m trying to keep my hed above water right now as it is, but for completely different reasons. This time, I’m fighting for everything I’ve ever wanted and I’m not about to back down.

So here I am. Happy. Alive. And blindly chasing after this crazy dream.

Thank you is not enough and words cannot describe what my training has meant to me.
Thank you Regal Air, thank you Justin and thank you Ryan.
You guys gave me what I needed to fight for what I've always wanted.
I look forward to finishing my training.

Total cost invested thus far: $6124

Saturday, June 9, 2012

First Stage Check.... Disaster Much?

May 16, 2012
Cessna 152
Paine Field
1.0 hours 3 landings


First stage check, took me off guard, I didn’t know that after each stage of flight training one would have to demonstrate their skill (or lack of) to a chief flight instructor. So after I soloed, and my CFI mentioned it to me I was a bit panicked. That being said, I was also excited to be flying with someone new, to meet another pilot, and a female one nonetheless.

I wouldn’t say I completely bombed the stage check, but I definitely did not do as well as I’d have hoped. In fact, it was definitely on the top 3 worst flights of mine. At first, I was completely confident in my ability to do whatever was needed. I preflighted no problem, called up ground/tower/checklisted it up, and took off with no hesitation. She took me off guard by asking a simple enough question I knew the answer too, “How far do you need to be away from the clouds?” Yet, for some reason I spaced. Completely. My heart started to race, and I noticed I was losing altitude; I pulled back slightly and remembered we were still in our airspace so 152 applied; 1,000, 500, 2,000. I knew it was 500 below, but was it 2000 or 1000 horizontal? So I took a guess, and of course, I was wrong. Instantly, my confidence level started to drop.

I was asked to do slow flight. The winds were strong making me nervous, but I tried to focus. Getting into slow flight was always an issue for me, but once I was in it no problem. Here, is where I completely take the blame for what happened. Normally, Ryan will sit there patiently, either waiting for me to get into slow flight, or give tips. Before I was even comfortable enough in my set up, I was asked to turn to the left. I wasn’t ready, and I should have done what a pilot would have done, and said I wasn’t quite set up for it just yet. Instead, I did what a student pilot would have done, I nodded and obeyed. I kick myself for that decision, thinking back its still painful. When she wanted me to turn to the right, I was still turning left, not fully set up rudder wise, and when she asked me to turn, I did, and before I even was able to process what was happening, she was grabbing for the controls. I had stalled. I was more shook up by her being so frantic at reaching for the controls than the plane actually stalling. Throughout my whole training, Ryan has never jumped at the controls like that. He is so chill and relax about everything, which is why hes a great instructor for me because I learn best with relaxed people. These are training planes, and from what I’ve been told if you let go they basically straighten themselves up. I wish she would have let me get us out of the stall instead of jumping right in. I know how to get out of stalls. But, from her perspective I would have jumped in to. After all, I’m just a student pilot with a few hours so I don’t blame her. After that however, any confidence I had was completely wiped out, I was shook up and the whole beginning had been a disaster. I was happy, excited and nervous all the way until then. After that, I was hopeless and cold; I just wanted to go back. Who was I kidding; I wasn’t ready to be in control of an aircraft on my own. Not yet anyways. What was the point in continuing the stage check? Really, I couldn’t mess up any more than I already had. I self-doubted myself up there like it was no one’s business. And it was heartbreaking.

After, the controls were passed back to me, she proceeded to explain about the strong winds (which I already knew) and then asked if I knew what had happened, to which, now instead of answering confidently, I answered with a question at the end. Describing the planes left turning tendency, and the rudder not being fully applied, turning the ailerons one way, the plane going another, losing lift... right? She nodded, and basically repeated what I said but more in detail. Then she pulled out the power and said my engine had quit. I remember instead of enthusiastically answering I mumbled out the procedures, wanting to get it over with. For some reason, I said 67 knots instead of the 60 for glide path. Idiot move, since 67 is my Vy. I was just so hung up on what had happened that my mind wasn’t in the right place. Not to mention I noticed her hand nice and snug next to the yoke, like she was prepared for me to mess up again. All I could think about was, that I had become that student pilot they were afraid to fly with. Awesome. After that she had me do some stalls. The one thing that I breezed through effortlessly. But again, feeling unsure, I said aloud each step before I performed it, in my attempt at not messing up again, and hopefully putting her at ease.

The radios were busy, and the controller got confused a couple of times about what planes were where, which in turn confused me. He first told me to enter on base and then proceeded to say enter on downwind. His confusion made me instantly realize how I take ATC for granted, thinking they’ve got it all under control. I did my 3 landings, having to tell tower where I was twice, because they at one point said there was 3 planes in the pattern, when I only counted 2 (as with the chief flight instructor), and another point he had me confused for another plane. As if a confused controller was what I needed.

I don’t know why, but she told me to not turn crosswind at 500ft from the TPA like I was used to, she told me to wait a bit longer, and in turn it threw me off. Instead of being at the TPA when I turned downwind, I was at it half way through crosswind. I ended up continually climbing and I was too high once I hit downwind. Trying to compensate for that, along with dealing with a confused air traffic controller, and not having the traffic in site/ trying to find the plane on final so I could turn base had me all sorts of messed up. It was a miracle I managed to land the damn plane. Minus my airspeed being off, my CFI always gets on me about that, and I even knew to watch it before I was in flight. Airspeed always gets me.

Even though it has nothing to do with this post, I love this photo.

When we got to her office, she started with saying “overall good flight”. Ha! Yeah right! I don’t think I could have been more of a disaster if I even tried. I knew it was the whole, say something nice before you break them down kinda of thing. So, I smiled and asked her on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the worst, how bad did I do compared to the other students, honestly. Not for my pride, but because I wanted to know if being this horrible was normal. And she sat down, leaned back and thought a second before answer, “I’d give you about a 6 or 7, we do it on a scale of 1 to 5 here, and I gave you a 3.” I was surprised. If I was in her shoes, I would have given myself a 4 on both scales (theirs 5 is the worst). But, I managed to make it right in the middle, not good, not bad, just neutral. Hearing that, made me feel much better, and relax slightly. It meant that she had to have flown with someone worse than me. And so long as I wasn’t the absolute worst, I could get up and try again. Though the overall stage check wasn’t bad (what I had to demonstrate) I definitely was glad it was over, and thankful to be flying with my CFI next time. And even if the chief flight instructor made me more nervous than ever before, and though I really am not looking forward to flying with her again(because of how much I sucked), she’s actually a really nice person and did keep me at ease towards the end. For instance, when I had landed and taxied back to our spot, I mentioned to her how I wasn’t strong enough to push the plane back into its spot. To which she told me, that it doesn’t really matter. All I have to do is sit there and act pitiful till some macho man somewhere appears out of nowhere to come help me. It worked for her every time she said. The thought made me laugh.

I was a complete utter disaster that flight, but I left in good spirits because the chief flight instructor was such a nice person. It really does make all the difference who is at these flight schools.

(I’ve been SO busy this quarter I’ve hardly had time to write this up. And even worse, its been 3 weeks since I last got to fly. But, study for finals I must! I’m in no rush for my private pilot’s license, I am however trying to knock out my AA before spring of next year. I won’t be flying this week or next… but two weeks from now I will be. And I’ve actually contacted a few loan places, so fingers crossed I get a loan and can fly almost every day of August.)

Total cost invested thus far: $5950

Sunday, May 13, 2012

To Stretch my Wings and Solo!

May 10, 2012
Pain Field
Cessna 152
.8 hours (.4 PIC) 6 landings

Taken by my CFI

I came, I saw, I conquered. Today, I stretched my wings for the first time and I flew like never before. May 10th around 08:30/08:45am, I soloed, the day the sky welcomed me.

I was prepared this time, I knew I had to solo and I wasn’t about to put it off again. The whole night before, and the drive there I was more nervous than I’ve ever been for anything in my life. I kept picturing each lesson, everything I had learned, the good, the bad, all of it. I knew I was more than ready, but I couldn't stop the doubts from creeping into my mind. I arrived at the flight school 15 minutes early and sat there allowing myself to feel nervous, frightened, and anxious. I was feeling sick to my stomach, like I wanted to puke. But I just sat there, because I told myself I’d feel whatever it was that I needed to now, and as soon as I got out of the car I’d push those nerves down. I knew what I was doing, these feelings were just stemming from the change that was about to happen. There was no going back now, I knew that. Flying had become a part of me, and so I got out of the car. As I was walking towards the flight school one of the Boeing planes were taking off, I couldn’t help but smile as I watched her climb higher and higher, so effortlessly and so gracefully, the sound of the engine further calming me. It was almost as if she was telling me to stop being so lame and enjoy myself because today was my day.

As soon as I walked in I was told I’d be flying a different 152 since the Hobbs stopped working the night before on the plane I usually fly. So, during preflight, I took my time, though it was still a Cessna 152 it was one of the planes I had only flown once. I hardly knew her. I ran my fingertips along the edges, looking for cracks, dents, missing screws, anything out of the norm. But, she seemed fine and ready to fly. I squirmed my way into the cockpit, and welcomed the familiar scent. Though, it was still a little chilly outside, inside was nice and warm and I couldn’t help thinking how comfortable I was nestled there as I glanced over all the familiar gauges. I wasn’t really nervous, but I wasn’t exactly my normal self. I knew I was probably going to solo, but I also knew that there was no room to be frightened or nervous in the sky. I knew I had to be in control.

I did my first three landings with my CFI. My first landing on downwind, we were listening to another Boeing plane taxiing on the runway opposite ours, my CFI mentioned how people at his school would be freaking out if they heard that over the radio. I smiled, my home airport. I loved it so much. Here I am in my little Cessna, flying alongside the big boys. It didn’t even phase me, then again it shouldn’t since I’ve been flying here from day one. The controlled airspace was home to me, comfortable and welcoming and the Boeing planes kept it interesting and fun.

As I turned onto final, I saw I was a little low and needed to make some adjustments. And this is exactly how I knew I was ready to solo. You see, I knew I was coming in lower than I needed to be. I tried to add power, but that wasn’t getting the job done. As I approached, I put my final 30 degree flaps down, usually I have to hold the yoke steady so that when I put the flaps in I don’t let it bump me up. However, I allowed the plane to bounce herself up a little bit because I knew it would get me back on my glidepath. What made me realize I was ready was that (and I may be wrong here) but I’m pretty sure my CFI didn’t know I did that on purpose. Because he said right when I landed, “you see you were coming in a little low, but once you put that 30 in it bounced you right up.” He sounded like he thought I had just forgotten to keep her steady. Either that or he was so confident in my ability that he didn’t seem phased at all. Either way, that was how I knew I was ready to solo, because I knew how to get the plane to do what I needed her to do. I was in control. For my second landing, I was coming in a little low again, and by my third one, I made sure to be right on the glidepath when I turned final, and I was. In fact, my third landing was pretty good and apparently it was good enough for my instructor too because he asked me if I was ready to do this. And I sighed and nodded, he called up tower, told them we were getting off at G4 and that we would be doing a solo. My heart jumped at the words. I was really going to be doing this.

He hopped out of the plane, grabbed my logbook and started talking about how the plane was going to act like a sports car up there. A lot of what he was saying was going in one ear and out the other. I tried to listen, I honestly did, but my thoughts were racing. It took every bone in my body to not yell at him to get his ass back in the plane. But before I knew it, he was telling me I’d do fine, wishing me good luck and closing the door. Then, all of a sudden, I was alone. It was quite, but still oddly comforting. The funny thing about this was that I was nervous all the way up until he closed the door. As soon as that door was closed, my nervousness went away. Completely gone. I hadn’t even realized I had grabbed the checklist, it was already in my hands and I was going over it, being extra careful not to miss anything. I called up ground and then I was off to do the before takeoff checklist. It was second nature to me, a breeze, no issue once so ever. I called up tower, got my clearance for closed traffic and began to taxi onto the runway. I remember taking a deep breath, and mumbling to the near empty cockpit “here goes nothing,” before I put in full power, and began to takeoff. I will say that I was not disappointed in the fact that it really did feel like a sports car. I soared into the sky faster than I ever have, and before I knew it I was 500ft from TPA and it was time to turn crosswind. I hardly had time to take into account what was happening. Yet, as soon as I realized I was in the air alone I was smiling from ear to ear, I was actually doing this! I turned downwind, responded to tower and sat there glancing at the empty seat next to me. I was soloing! I was up there all by myself; I was actually flying an airplane alone! The sky had never looked so beautiful as it did right then and there. It stretched on for miles, the sun radiating down on the Puget Sound making it shine as if beneath its surface lay thousands of diamonds. Even though, I had flown here dozens of times it was as if I was seeing the true beauty of everything for the first time. It was amazing, and though I wanted to fly out into the world right then and there, I brought myself back down to reality. As I turned from base to final, I was on the glidepath, I took another deep breath, focusing, as I came in I landed a little hard, but I shook it off. Flaps up, carb heat in, and before I even finished glancing to make sure my flaps were going up, she was already trying to lift herself off the runway. I laughed, and remember thinking, ‘fine by me, if you want to fly then lets fly’. I noticed I was a little more aggressive in how I was flying. Not aggressive in a bad manor, it’s just that when I’m with my instructor Ryan I’m always trying to be careful for some reason, almost like I’m scared to do the wrong thing. Let’s take the rudders for example, I usually use them lightly, always have, don’t ask me why. But, when I was soloing I was using those rudders like it was no one’s business. I knew what their response would be, I knew how to use them, for some reason I just felt more at ease knowing someone wasn’t watching my every move. Don’t get me wrong, my CFI is awesome and I’m thankful he’s been so patient with me, but knowing he wasn’t there was a relief in a way. Anyways, before I knew it I was going in for my second landing and I flared a little too soon which caused me to eat up more runway than needed, but when I landed it was beautiful, I had landed close to if not on the centerline, and I came down nice and gently, probably one of my best. As I took off again, I felt so light and free and was even laughing to myself. If I had thought that my first lesson was my no going back point, I was majorly wrong. I promised myself right then and there that I would never go more than 2 months without flying. I will do whatever it takes to keep flying, no matter the cost. I really don’t understand how people can solo and then just quit. How can that satisfy anyone? If anything soloing has given me a thirst for more.

Taken by my CFI

As I was climbing on upwind I panicked for a second, forgetting how many landings I had done. I was enjoying myself too much, but I quickly relaxed when I realized that this was my 3rd not my 4th. Tower cleared me for my touch and go, I responded back telling them that this would be a full stop making sure to say my callsign afterwards. I didn’t hear anything back which made me nervous. Radios have always been a weakness of mine. Though I love being in controlled airspace more than not, I never know how to handle what to say and the way to say it. Regardless, he had told me the runway was clear for me. I did my final landing, I was coming in high, but I really didn’t want to do a go around, so I made her settle herself. I didn’t want to just leave without letting the tower know, and since he never got back to me I did the only thing I could think of, I called them up and told them that 4td was getting off at G4. That time he did get back to me, I sighed and took the exit cleaned her up before calling up ground and taxiing back to my flight school.

By the time, I unbuckled myself my CFI was already next to the plane with a smile on his face and talking to me about something but I couldn’t hear him since he was on the other side of the plane and I was still inside. He seemed more excited at that time than I was, but I don’t think the magnitude of what I had done had hit me yet. Actually I know it didn’t. Sure I was happy, and excited I felt free and on top of the world, but it just seemed like no big deal then, in fact I didn’t understand why I had freaked out so much before. My hands were steady my whole solo, the taxiing to the flight school and all the way up until I was getting ready to push the plane back into her spot. But then, it was like my body was finally relaxing enough to allow the trembling to seep through and suddenly my hands were shaking.

This was the first time I attempted to push the airplane into her spot by myself. And let me tell you, I could not for the life of me get the thing to move more than a few inches. I’m just not strong enough. I told Ryan that everyone’s going to laugh at me watching me try and push these planes. At first he just watched me, saying it was good practice, but after a few minutes of me hardly moving her he jumped in and helped. So, I’ll need to make sure whatever plane I fly I can just pull right on in… otherwise I’ll be out there for an hour getting the thing in its spot.

Once we were in the flight school, it slowly started to hit me. It took every effort to not smile my ear to ear cheesy smile. I had soloed, and I didn’t damage the plane or kill myself. I piloted an airplane all by myself, no assistance once so ever. I actually did it. And that’s all I could think about. That I had actually soloed. Ryan congratulated me, and told me how I was to set an appointment up for one of the stage exams (which I have for this Wednesday assuming the chief flight instructor isn’t busy then).

As I got in my car, I allowed my feelings to rush through me. I called my father first, who asked me what I wanted as a congratulation gift. My response? Flight time please? I texted my friends my photos, as well as the photos my CFI had taken from the ground. The congratulations came pouring in. I felt like I was being welcomed into the aviation world. Not everyone makes it to their solo, but I did. And not everyone finishes and gets their license, but I will.

Unfortunately, I had college at 10am, so I had to rush to make it to class in time. But, I didn’t let that put a stop to my mood. I will tell you this though, it was torture having to sit through 2 hours of chemistry learning about orbitals while being all bright eyed and bushy tailed having just experienced one of the greatest things in my life. Every other student around me was either half asleep of had their eyes glazed over. No one should ever be that happy in chemistry. But, if only they knew what was going through my mind. If only they knew what I had just done.

The world lay in the palm of my hands, if only for a day.

Total cost invested thus far: $5756

Friday, May 4, 2012

He Who Hesitates is Lost

April 26, 2012
Paine- Arlington- Paine
Cessna 152
1.3 hours 6 landings


I hesitated.

Today, I could have held a piece of the world in my hands. After weeks of complaining about this and that, in the end I have no one to blame but myself now. Though, there is no excuse, I'll start from the beginning. Today, I was the world’s biggest idiot. The whole morning Paine was IFR. I had my POH/ presolo exams, so regardless I knew I'd be meeting up with my CFI to go over them. I actually had gone in early to use the flight schools resources. I'm not excited for my cross country flight planning, I can tell you that. It was torturous trying to figure out if we'd make our imaginary trip from Pain to Astoria without having to refuel. It’s not that it was particularly difficult... it’s just that I kept rushing ahead of myself. Aren’t there computer that can do this for us? Anyway, as we were going over my exams when the weather turned in my favor. I was surprised to find out that we would go flying after all. I hadn’t really expected it. The winds were at 10 knots at Paine so Ryan had me fly us to Arlington. On our way there I checked the weather, the winds were calm, visibility fine, ceiling good. The calm winds should have tipped me off, but I wasn't thinking about it. I was more focused on the rain we were about to enter, and the visibility.

Turned out to be some showers, and we easily passed through them on our way to the airport. Going in for landing, I was rusty to say the least. I was slow to pull out the power the first time around. The second, I felt too far from the runway and on final I was coming in too slow, not building enough air speed. The third landing, I believe I did a go around because I was too low and still far from the runway. Somewhere, I overshot final. I kept forgetting to make my radio calls. I remember thinking for the first time ever how much I missed Paine. I don't like uncontrolled airports, is that weird? Obviously, you have to watch for traffic regardless, but to have to continuously make the radio calls is just a bother. I think its even more odd that I realized I actually enjoy talking to ATC now. I'm still not awesome when I talk to them, but I'd rather talk to someone then not. Uncontrolled airports are just too much work. Anyways. My patterns were sloppy, I even mentioned to Ryan that, I just wasn’t on my game, though my landings weren't too bad. Eventually, my patterns got better, I remembered to make my radio calls, and I quickly fell back into my usual comfortable routine.

As I made one of my final landings for the day and was getting ready to put my flaps up Ryan told me to slow down and take the next exit off the runway. I didn’t think anything of it since we’ve done this before, until he asked me if I wanted to solo.

And I hesitated. My mind raced. My mouth half open. My pulse jumped. And I blurted the first thing that came to my mind. “No.”

I’ve been told numerous times that he who hesitates is lost. Am I lost? Ryan has mentioned to me a few things about his training, I don’t remember it exactly but he said something about stalls for the first time and where he was wondering what the hell he was doing flying, or something like that. That’s what I felt like at that exact moment, only with two different feelings. It was a tug of war of emotions that left me exhausted and ashamed at the end of the day.

What the hell was I doing flying? That’s all I could think about. What the hell am I doing. I have no business doing this. Who am I to be doing this? What right do I have to do what man was not meant to do?

The other part of me;

What the hell was I doing saying no? I’ve wanted this for so long; I know I can land the plane. Why am I saying no? I can do this. I’ve done it plenty of times without my instructor touching the controls. I’m confident in my abilities. I've been wanting this. This is who I am, all that I'm about, this is the first step to my dreams. Why was I hesitating?

I can try and make excuses. But in the end none of that matters. And I can honestly say, this is the first time in my life that I have ever felt this ashamed. I must be the only student pilot on the face of this earth to turn down the opportunity to solo. Have to be. I even asked my instructor, to which he laughed and said that I was the first, but that there was a first to everything. He told me if I wasn’t ready I wasn’t ready, he wasn’t going to rush me. My response? I told him not to give me the option, just get out of the plane.

I’m a little weird. I know I’ll make a good pilot for the sole fact that I thrive in chaotic situations. And if any emergency ever rises I should be able to handle it. I don’t know what to do with myself when things are calm. But, when things get rough its as though my body kicks it into overdrive, everything seems sharper, I’m more vigilant, careful, precise. Always have been.

I flew us back to Paine, the whole time trying to keep my emotions under control and fly the airplane. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to turn back around and let him solo me. My heart was breaking the longer I was up there. The sky was eating me up, tearing a hole into my heart. I wanted him just to fly us there. But, I knew that I’d start crying. I needed something to focus on to distract me. Flying. Keep flying. Don’t think about it, just watch for traffic. Check the ATIS. Scan for traffic. Call up tower. Scan for traffic. Watch airspeed. Keep scanning. Watch altitude. Keep scanning. Stop all emotions. Just fly the plane. Keep her safe, keep yourself safe. As I turned on base I slipped and started thinking about how I couldn’t wait to get out of there, I felt suffocated. This resulted in me overshooting final. I took a deep breath and cleared mind again. Stop thinking. Fly the plane. I landed her nicely, got off the run way, cleaned her up, and called up ground to taxi back. Got out of the airplane. Walked into the flight school. And the emotions came crashing down. Ryan was talking to me, but I didn’t hear a word he was saying. Something about my landings, but all I could think about was that I could have soloed. Today, was supposed to be one of the best moments of my life. But, it wasnt. He handed me my log book, breaking me from my thoughts. I forced a weak smile and brought up again how he needs to not ask next time, if he keeps asking I’ll say no. But, I know that’s not true. I can promise you I won’t make this mistake again. I left the flight school as empty as a drum. I've talked to my close friends about this. They’ve all told me the same thing. I trusted my gut reaction. I didn’t feel on top of my game, so I made the right decision. I’ll know when I’m ready. It’s not as though I won’t have a second chance. Everything happens for a reason. Blah, blah, blah.

I’m actually having the chance to work on my dream, something many would kill for. I’m doing something that I’m so in love with. And I hesitated. One of my friends asked me what the big deal was, why I was so upset. How couldn’t I be? This is everything I’ve been working towards. Supposed to be a major milestone. Instead it’s a rollercoaster of emotions that in the end has left me feeling worse than before.

I don’t know why I said no. Because I’ve been ready to do this for months. I went to the airport today. The exact one I should have soloed on. And saw a beautiful plane. She soothed my acheing heart, and I was reminded why I’m so in love with flying. I’ve been knocked down again, there are no words of encouragement here, no one offering a helping hand, as I look around I’m on my own. I see now that this is my own journey, I'll always be alone through this. I don’t want to fly right now, or tomorrow. Yet, the sky whispers to me. So, I force myself back up. I try and find the stars, but the clouds cover them up. Though, they're covered, they speak my name. I may have been a coward. I may feel ashamed. But, saying no to soloing does not make me a bad pilot by any means.

Total cost invested thus far: $5337

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It Must be Tough Being a CFI

April 12, 2012
Paine Field
Cessna 152
1.2 hours, 4 landings

After 3 weeks of not flying, I cannot describe how good it felt to get back up there. I missed it so much. How can people go their whole lives without even trying to fly? Don't they know how great it feels?

Oddly enough, I did better than I thought I would do after going so long without flying. We worked on stalls, steep turns, did some s-turns and then we went back to Paine Field for touch and go's. Coming into our first landing I felt too high, or maybe too fast, then a gust picked me up further worsening my approach. I didn't like it at all, so I did a go-around. Coming back around the second time I did much better, and was surprised that my landing wasn't too bad for being my first in weeks. It's funny how horrible landings used to be for me, now its almost as if something has just clicked. My landings aren't perfect, at all, far from it, but they're much better than before. Though I still have my moments like today. The whole time I was flying,I was battling the winds. They kept pushing me back, so I kept sinking and I would have to add power. The problem with that though, was that I kept coming in faster than I wanted. I ballooned once, came back down and am pretty sure I landed on one wheel, then ballooned back up, at that point frustrated, I decided to do a go-around and right when I initiated it, both wheels landed. Due to that fact that I had already established full power, I just continued on with my go-around. Ripping out the power probably wouldn't have helped the situation. I was feeling a bit bummed about that. I haven't ballooned in a while, and today, that was a horrible balloon. I think Ryan may have sensed my disappointment because he started to justify it for me by saying that I was coming in faster than we needed and then we hit ground effect and with the strong headwinds it  just made us balloon up. That was nice of him, but I knew that was a disaster.The next round I had a much better approach, though as I was getting into the ground effect I bumped up a little, slightly ballooning once again, but instead of forcing the plane down or making any sudden adjustments I just held it there and let her settle herself down nicely. I know it wasn't a bad landing but I wasn't happy with it. I was starting to feel defeated, as I usually do when I continuously have landings that I am not happy about. And this is where having a good CFI really counts. Even though, I wasn't doing horrible, I definitely wasn't doing as good as I wanted to be. So we landed, I put the flaps up, carb heat in, and applied full power all the while thinking about how I could make the next landing better and then my instructor said one little word taking me off guard, "Excellent." I almost faltered as I began to take off again because I wasn't expecting it, and it was just what I needed to hear.

A CFI has a lot on their shoulders. The way I see it they have the ability to make or break a student pilot. If I had an instructor who didn't drop some encouragement every now and again, these lessons would be an uphill battle. A few words of encouragement are sometimes needed to help our motivation. Thats not to say a CFI should be giving out compliments unnecessarily. But, if the student does something well, or finally accomplishes whatever it was that they were struggling with, well don't you think that deserves a "good job"? I certainly think so.

I really don't know what was so great about that landing, but Ryan saw something in it that I didn't. Maybe, he saw how I struggled to keep the plane in my control? Always trying to fly her, not let her fly me. The way I fought the wind? Or was he talking about how I let her settle? Who knows. But, here I was beating myself up over it, when one tiny word spilled into my headset. He even said it so nonchalantly, the word probably nothing more than a simple thought spoken out loud to him. But it brought me back up, and my uphill battle became just another walk through the park.

Even though I know he doesn't read this, or anyone that I know for that matter. I still feel the need to say one last thing. I don't think I could have a better instructor, thank you. 

Total cost invested thus far: $5089

Friday, April 6, 2012

Against The Odds

April 6, 2012
Post surgery

Waiting to get back up there

Those who feel the pull of the sky, are a rare kind indeed. We are not meant to fly. Yet, despite all the odds we feel it deep within our souls. It’s something that lurks beneath the surface, but is instilled in all of us from the beginning. The need for freedom, adventure, to simply escape the earths surface.

To one day no longer call myself a student pilot, but a pilot. Something, that I am working hard towards, will be the day the world is in my hands. That doesn't mean that being a pilot comes easy. And anyone that says it does is either lying to you, or is not a true pilot them-self. Have you ever noticed how every pilot you’ve met has had this air of confidence about them? It isn't because they think they’re awesome for being a pilot (though that’s true too). It’s usually because their training has provided that confidence for them. You see, as student pilots, we will struggle. We will make more mistakes than we can count. We will be defeated many a times and we will be tested to the point where we will want to give up. I have walked away from my lessons feeling like a failure. Feeling like I will never get that maneuver down. Defeated in every way. After every lesson, I’m raw, open and exposed and simply feeling way too much. But, isn’t that the point? Only someone who truly has a love for flight will get back up, no matter how many times they’ve been knocked down. They will get up, because it’s not the victories or losses that count. It’s the love for flight that only lies within a true pilot’s heart that keeps them going.To be cast among the few and to one day be able to call yourself a pilot. Someday, I hope to achieve that. There’s this quote by Titus Maccius Plautus that comes to mind as I type this, “flying without feathers is not easy for my wings have no feathers.” A perfect title. I fly without feathers, but by no means is it coming easily. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Dance With Death

March 26,2012
Kapowsin Field Airport
Tandem jump


I’m always striving to do something more, though I never know what more is. No matter what I do it’s never quite enough. I don’t know what it is I want from life, or crave, but I strive to feel that feeling. Whatever it is, maybe it’s simply to be free. Something in my life is missing and I can never fulfill it, except that is when I’m flying. Which, I guess would make sense, since when I have the controls of a plane I feel as if nothing can bring me down. I feel free and at peace with myself, in those moments I’m content. So, maybe it’s more important to start out with stating that I’m always looking for more, except for when I’m flying.

I yearn to be free. Not free as in being able to live on my own and buy my own things, that isn’t my idea of free, that’s responsibility. To be free is to not have a care in the world, no obligation and to enjoy every moment of every second. To live life to the fullest while being the best person you possibly can be. I read a quote somewhere once, where it said that the only way to become a better person is to do the things you fear the most.
  If you think about it, that’s a funny statement because some people are terrified of the water, so to swim in it- unthinkable. Yet, it would make sense that doing things that terrify you would make you a better person. Today, I did my version of the unthinkable. Well, sort of.  I faced my fear of heights head on. It’s odd though, because I’m not afraid when I’m nestled inside my tiny plane, I think I just feel safe enough. I am however, terrified when I’m on a huge building looking down, I get dizzy. 

I can say I’ve touched the sky through the very few planes I’ve flown.  I’ve allowed myself to melt into the controls, extend to the wings and feel the air holding me up. It’s a wonderful feeling, and though it fulfills that void I feel when I’m on the surface, I wanted more. I wanted to be out of the plane for once, and to experience something more thrilling. So, I did exactly that. Instead of flying the airplane today, I jumped out of it. It’s an odd feeling going up in that plane but knowing you won’t be landing with it. 


You would think it would be uncomfortable being strapped to someone you don’t even know, their legs on either side of yours as the plane takes off, then sitting in their lap once you're in the air waiting to reach altitude. I remember we were so close I could feel his breathing on my back, but it was more comforting than not. As one of the jumpers began to open the door, my instructor leaned in and said that I wasn’t going anywhere without him, and he wasn’t going anywhere without me, though it sounds creepy, it actually calmed me. It meant we were in this together. We made our way the edge of the plane and dangled our legs off the edge. I’ve had many people ask me what was going through my mind, was I afraid, did I think I was going to die, the list goes on. The simple answer- no. I wasn’t afraid. Maybe I’m not so afraid of heights anymore after all.  In all the pictures you see a smile plastered on my face. I was excited, more excited than I’ve been in a long time, minus my flight training, nothing beats that. But I wasn’t thinking I was going to die, I was thinking that I was finally going through with this, I was finally going to touch the sky myself. Finally, I was going to be where I’ve wanted to be for so long. No fear exsisted, no nervousness, nothing, just pure joy.  We rocked back once, then we were falling forward and suddenly I was surrounded by my element- the sky. It was everywhere, and I was breathing it in big mouthfuls, quenching my thirst for freedom. I felt it surge through me. This, this was freedom. To escape the chains the earth’s surface has on all of us, to dance on the tip of deaths fingers. I threw my hands out and screamed with joy.


For a split second, I was one with the sky. I felt the force of gravity pressing into me, rushing me towards the ground. By that time we had entered the cloud. I faced two fears that day. My fear of heights and my claustrophobia, though I wasn’t stuck in a small cramped place, I just wasn’t able to see anything or hear anything at all. I didn’t like not knowing where the ground was. The cloud opened its arms but it wasn’t welcoming. It wrapped itself around every inch of my body and white was all I could see. I felt like I was trapped.  It engulfed me, though try as it might it could not take that feeling of freedom from me. Half of our free fall was through that cloud, are chute was even opened within it. Saying I’ve been through a cloud is a lot cooler sounding than actually having lived it.

My instructor was talking to me about how to control chute- it was crazy cool. And we were tumbling through the air, I remember him saying we needed to bleed off some altitude so he cranked it to the side and we began to do downward steep turns. It made me dizzy but I loved every moment of it, and when we landed I asked if we could go again. My instructor just laughed at me, hes in the army and does this for fun. I thought that was pretty cool, when I jump again I definitely plan to request him. He explained everything to me the whole way, I loved it. Today, I touched the sky and I touched a cloud. I conquered not one but two fears.

I guess I’m just made for this kind of thing because I plan to go skydiving two more times before summers end. I think I may even go so far as to go without an instructor tied to my back, where I open the chute myself. I bet that’s where the adrenalin rush really is.

 “The sky is the limit but greeting the ground safely is the goal”- Jesse Karpen(in blue)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Operation Melt Down

March 25, 2012
Arlington Airport


 It’s funny how sometimes, strong emotions can change us. One minute you’re on one path, and then you’re going through such turmoil, you’re exploding with all these different emotions and next thing you know, you've changed. Reality hit hard today when I was asked to give up my dream. At some point I started blocking out what she was saying, she was talking but mid-sentence I numbly got up and got into my car. I didn't know where I was going until I got there. The airport just minutes from my home. And I started crying. There’s just no way, I can’t give it up, I just can’t. This is who I am. Everything I've worked for, everything I've always wanted, I can’t throw it out the window. Thinking of my life without this, I wouldn't be happy. I know its selfish, but I'd rather work my life away to keep up with my dream than stop for one seconds to help them get out of whatever situation they are in. I realized then that no matter what the cost I won't stop, I don't even think I could. I was 60% sure I was going into the forces and 40% undecided, yet today that changed my mind. I’m almost positive the military is where I will end up going. It’s in my blood after all. I’ve been off and on about joining for 4 years now, but its always been there. Brushing the corners of my mind, are most people like this? Do they contemplate the military for years like I have been? 

I think I’m going to Embry Riddle, I’m seriously contemplating it, I’ve already called and talked to someone, I just need to get a few more opinion sand visit each campus before my mind is set. I'll probably do the ROTC program there if I do go.  I’m following my heart and ignoring logic. Logic tells me to go to a real university and finish my science degree. But that’s not what I want, I want to go learn all there is to know about planes, and the aviation world, I want to be surrounded by people who love aviation as much as I do. If I took the safe route, I wouldn’t be as happy. I would constantly think the “what if” I had chosen the route I really wanted. And honestly, the aviation world could go under, and my Bachelors may go under with it, but I’ll have my Associates to fall back on that has nothing to do with aviation. I’m almost done with it, just a few more quarters.

It’s beautiful flying weather but I see no planes. It’s almost as if that one landing as I got here was welcoming me. This is my escape. Other people my age, they turn to drugs, drinking, or self-destructing behavior to calm them. I go to the airport. I wonder if something is wrong with me sometimes. Why couldnt I be a normal girl and dream to be a model or actress? Even a singer. Why did space have to steal me, and now the sky holds my heart hostage. I know I will never be fully happy unless I’m with either.

There’s one, wonder if he’s landing or doing a touch and go. Is it weird that I can watch planes land all day? Ever since I was a girl, I remember my dad taking me to the airshows and I loved it. A plane gliding down so effortlessly just eases my soul.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


March 22, 2012
Pain Field
Cessna 152
1.1 hours, 11 landings

Happy birthday to me. Still no solo. Winds at 14 knots. Stayed in the pattern the whole time. I finished my exam he had me take home, but we didn’t go over it since the weather was still flyable.14 knots of winds pretty harsh but it was almost a direct headwind. Glad I got to go up, it was a great expirence to feel what the wind does to you. Especially just changing the degrees of the flaps. From 20 degrees to 30 (full) the drag was increased so much it was ridiculous. At one point I almost didn’t even make it to the runway because of how much the winds were pushing me back. I learned a lot today. Still upset I’m not soloing. Decided I’m going to go jump out of a plane(skydive) since I won’t be flying one solo, that'll be my birthday present to myself. 

At this point I want my solo out of the way, I’ll just be glad I finally reached that step so I can move on. I have so little time and am not progressing at all. Not to mention there’s hardly any scholarships to apply for if you haven’t soloed or aren’t going to school in something aviation related(though I plan to once I get my AA). Maybe I’m just not in a great mood. I don’t know. I just know I need to solo soon. Which isn’t going to happen. Since surgery is a week from today, and I wont be flying for a week after that. There should be no reason why I can’t solo before I hit 30 hours. I’m getting discouraged and I’m afraid that when I walk out to preflight that plane instead of being excited I’m going to look at it as just another lesson to get through. I don’t want that. I don’t want my flight training to become a chore. I'm starting to fear that maybe I'm just not a good pilot.. I don't want to think it. I love this too much, this is all I want. But, lets face it. Not everyone can be a pilot. I hope that's not my case. Yet, I have that fear in the back of my mind. I know I could land the plane without my instructor. I'm confident in my abilities. I've done it tons of times without him touching the controls. I'm confident in myself, but he is not confident in me. Which worries me. 

Total cost invested thus far: $4860

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Just Another Lesson

March 21, 2012
Paine Field
Cessna 152
1.3 hours, 6 landings

The weather lately has been horrid. I’ve had at least 3 lessons cancelled. Tomorrow is my birthday and I’ve come to accept the fact that I won’t get to solo by then. I give up. I’d like to think that if the weather had been good I’d have gotten to solo. It’s so disappointing,  I don’t feel like I’m where I need to be in my training. It’s aggravating. How many hours will I have under my belt before I solo? Not to mention I have surgery next week, so my solo is going to be put off even more. Maybe I’m just missing something. Either way I’m getting discouraged, my college isn't going how I would like it and neither is my flight training. We brought up my solo at 11 hours, now at what 21 hours?  I’m STILL trying to get to solo. What am I doing wrong? Maybe, I'm not flying frequently enough. I should probably look into a loan to pull out. I know I know, if I can't get my private pilots debt free then how will I afford the rest of my training? I think not having the money is whats throwing me off, if I had the money I'd have my license already. I did 1 lesson a week (give or take depending on the weather) but now I can only afford 1 lesson every two weeks. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that isn't regular enough. It will cost more in the end if I continue my training like this.

At least I got my pre-solo written exam to take home. Should be simple enough.

Total cost invested thus far: $4650

Friday, March 9, 2012

Winds too Strong to Fly

March 10, 2012
No Pain Field
No Cessna
No hours, No landings

I had my eyes once again glued to my phone, hopefully, hoping the winds would die down. They didn't, and I didn't get to go up. So, I re-scheduled for next Wednesday.

T-minus 12 days to go.

What if this weather doesn't go away...? Will I even be able to get the flights in before my birthday..?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Working in Two Lessons a Week?

March 8, 2012
Pain Field
Cessna 152
1.0 hours, 7 landings

I talked to my flight instructor about trying to squeeze in two lessons a week. The only way I could do that was if instead of our lessons lasting for 1.3-2.0 they would have to be .8-1.0. If we could manage that I would be able to go up twice a week. The only problem with that though, was that we wouldn't really have a lot of time to work on maneuvers and maneuvers are just as important to get down. So I made a deal, we'd fly 1 point something the first week, then the second we'd have two 1.0 hours and the following week back to 1 point something. That way I could hopefully get to solo by my birthday while still practicing all the essential maneuvers without feeling pinched for time. So today, was a marathon of touch and goes for the full hour. I started out with a sloppy pattern, but eventually cleaned it up and made sure to stay at it. I also noticed my CFI wasn't talking to me as much. Instead, he was simply sitting there only throwing in his inputs towards the last half hour of my lesson. It made me nervous. Its unusual for him to be quiet when I'm flying (not in a bad way of course).

Up until this point my main issue with landing was that I would flare too soon. Continually, all I would hear from my CFI was that I was flaring too soon and that was why we would fall down or bounce or balloon. Yet, today  I wasn't flaring soon enough, I can't tell if that's an improvement or not. I'm no longer making the same mistake I repeatedly made, instead I'm making a new mistake. I guess its just the process though. Hopefully, my next flight I'll know just when to flare... Did I mention my CFI was quiet half the flight?! It's scaring me. I think he's thinking about letting me go off on my own.. Thinking about soloing makes me sick to my stomach. I'm not ready. Can't possibly be, my landings still aren't great.

But anyways, 14 days till my birthday and I've got another flight this Friday, the following Thursday and then finally one on my birthday. Will I be ready to solo by then? We haven't brought it up for awhile... did he forget my goal to solo by then? But he was quiet. I'm also at 21 something hours.... don't most students solo by then? Am I doing something wrong...?

First page down
First page officially all filled, now to start on the second!

Total cost invested thus far: $4406

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Knowing my Limits

March 1, 2012
Paine Field
Cessna 152
1.3 hours, 5 landings

The first thing I thought of when I woke up and saw the sky was that I would never get to fly today (though it was only 5am). The winds were bad, it was cold and raining like no other. I hated missing flight lessons, I live for them. Seriously, all I can think about is flying. I wake up Monday, and hurry through my day so it can be Tuesday, another day closer to my flight. Then the night before my lesson, I have a flutter of butterflies in my stomach all day. When the day comes my eyes are glued to the app on my phone and I update the METAR every hour to make sure the weather is staying good. When I know for sure my lesson wont get cancelled, my nerves are on edge the whole drive there to the point where I feel like I'm going to puke, my heart races and its just an overwhelming amount of feelings to handle in a short amount of time. Does anyone ever feel like this? Or am I the only one...? Usually my butterflies calm down about the time I walk into the flight school, somedays those persist. But, always right when I preflight they go away. Why? I have no idea.

So, today I assumed I wouldn't be going up, yet I continually checked the METAR's and I noticed that the ceiling was rapidly getting better and the winds were calming. It went from MVFR to VFR the hour before my flight lesson. The weather wouldn't be canceling my lesson after all. Then came the rush of those butterflies. I'd get to fly after all. This lesson was interesting, the weather was definitively questionable to fly in (well not questionable per say, I just wouldn't fly in it on my own). Not because it wasn't safe- it was. Winds weren't bad and the visibility was just fine, the sun was coming out. The ceiling just wasn't great. I got in some stalls, steep turns, and slow flight and then we headed back to Pain for some touch and goes. For the first time ever, when I called up Tower letting them know I was coming in for landing, I was able to repeat back to them what was being said fully. So exciting! I didn't pause, or spit something out, or just sit there with my mouth half open not knowing where to start in reading his directions back (where usually my CFI would step in). For the first time ever, it just came to me. One of my happiest moments ever!

We started our touch and goes at the smaller runway, but the clouds coming in were throwing me off. I had to do an odd pattern so as not to get in their way. ATC eventually called us to switch runways because the clouds were getting too bad on our side. So, little ol' me buzzed on by to the big boys runway where jet after jet was coming in and I had to extend my downwind a bunch or circle over the water till I could go in. Then there was the damn crosswinds. I did get to do some forward slips though. Is it weird that I loved them? It's just so convenient to throw in some aileron, opposite rudder and watch your plane glide itself on down. After a little while I noticed I started to get a headache, it kind of just snuck up on me. Knowing my limits, I asked my CFI if we could end our lesson for the day. I wanted to be a safe alert pilot. And lets face it, how safe can you really be with a throbbing headache? I really didn't want to end the flight, but its important to know your limits when it comes to flying.

Total cost invested thus far: $4214

Thursday, February 23, 2012

To Solo... One of These Days

February 23, 2012
Paine Field
Cessna 152
1.5 hours, 8 landings

I'm trying so hard to get to solo its killing me! My goal; solo by my 20th birthday which is quickly approaching. Only a month to go, and I still feel like I'm getting nowhere!! It's so frustrating. Today, my CFI asked if it was possible to get in 2 flights a week, I'll have to think of something. I know he'll only let me go up if I'm safe and ready, so there's really no point in stressing out about it nor rushing it. I'm just a goal orientated person, and when I started my flight training back in October I told myself I'd fly the plane by myself before I turned 20. Wow, do I feel old. But anyways, I'm running out of time and feel no more confident now then I did 5 or so lessons ago. I feel fine taking off and doing my pattern work. It's just those darn landings that are killing me! I'll also admit part of me is absolutely terrified in every single way to solo.... though I will surely be discouraged if I am unable to solo by my birthday I know I won't let it get too me to much because I don't feel ready to be thrown out of the nest just yet. In fact, I don't feel like I'll ever be ready.

Back to my flight training, this lesson was more steep turns (which I'm slightly getting better at, at least I feel as though I am), stalls are looking pretty nice, just need to work on my recovery a bit. The wings dropping have no effect on me, my leg just automatically kicks the rudder in on its own accord( well not really kick), I hardly even notice when I do it. Then we did slow flight, which I've got down once I'm in it. But, for the life of me I cannot figure out how to get into slow flight by PTS. I start to go into it and I'm literally all over the place. I've discussed with my instructor about throwing trim in there. Maybe, that will be my key. Hopefully, I'll remember it for the next time we start slow flight. My problem I've realized is that it doesn't matter how much I know about the procedure and how it needs to be done. I have to feel it for myself, feel the airplane reacting and then react to the airplane myself. If that makes sense...

Total cost invested thus far: $3970

Friday, February 10, 2012

Too Windy for my Taste

February 10, 2012
Pain Field- Jefferson- Arlington- Pain Field
Cessna 152
2.0 hours, 5 landings

My CFI had me visit a different airport today, which apparently has a really good pie place? He had me fly us there using the sectional, and figure out what direction I would be landing. It was simple enough flying there, only a rock through away from my home airport. I didn't do so well on the landing, ballooned it. The crosswinds were pretty bad though, so we went to Arlington to do some touch and goes there instead. We also worked on slow flight as usual and some stalls. At this point my radio skills at an uncontrolled tower are SO much better! I can confidently make the calls, no problem. In fact the only radio calls I continually mess up on are when I'm coming home to ask clearance for landing. The Tower just spits so much out at me and so quickly, I never know what I HAVE to say back, or even where to start. I'll get it down eventually though.. hopefully.

This was also the first flight I did while it was raining, and I thought it was the collest thing ever seeing the rain hit the window and just move away! I loved it, I don't know how to explain it, but I was sitting there laughing staring at the rain drops rather than the outside scanning for planes (whoops...) but that's what my CFI is there for right...? Us student pilots occasionally get distracted. Once I noticed I wasn't paying attention I got back on my game. Thankfully, my CFI didn't seem to notice.. We also saw a rainbow! It took every bone in my body to continue flying at the heading my instructor had told me, instead of chasing the beautiful colors in the sky.

Unfortunately, on our way home one of the runways were closed and the only one open had something on the runway so we had to circle over the water till we could be cleared to land. The wind was bumping us all over the place which was making me sick to my stomach, so my CFI took control of the airplane for awhile (thankfully). He got us clearance to circle over the runway in an attempt to get away from the winds over the water, which helped ease my stomach a lot. I wasn't close to puking, how horrible would that have been! But I was slightly nauseated, and for the first time was happier than ever to get out of that plane.

Total cost invested thus far: $3691

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Today, I applied for a scholarship which its deadline is next Friday. I asked my flight instructor and pilot mentor to both write up recommendations for me. I can only hope I can get it so I can get my private pilots sooner and start on my instrument. This is going to be the first of many scholarships that I’ll be working on. I realized that it's going to take me years to get where I want if I continue at the rate I'm going. I really want to have my private pilots by the end of summer and hopefully my instrument rating by next summer. My love for flying and anything aviation related just keeps growing. It's gotten to the point where all I want to do is be at the airport. I wonder if this fascination will ever fade? I surely hope not! Lately, I live to be in that beautiful sky. If I could fly everyday I would! 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Radio Work- Uncontrolled Airport

February 2, 2012
Pain Field
Cessna 152
1.5 hours, 6 landings

Today, was a good day. We went back to Arlington and I was on the radios for the first time at an uncontrolled airport. I was of course, a disaster the first time. My call wen a little like this;

“Arlington Traffic, Cessna one two three turning………. (long pause while still holding the mike in) left… (second long pause) crosswind 34R…..?”

I stuttered out the last part and I forgot to end with Arlington traffic. It was bad. My instructor went on to say, “It helps to say it in your head first and then say it aloud.” Part of me wanted to shove him out of the plane at that moment. Like I hadent repeated it to myself a bunch already! My reponse? “I did think of it before I said it! I even wrote it down!” My problem is, is that I have mike fright to the max that seems to be getting progressively worse. You’d think it wouldn’t be bad because I’m at an uncontrolled airport, but nope. I’m still a disaster over the radio. I don't get it either, because usually this isnt an issue for me. I'm a quiet person at times, but when I need to I have no fear of speaking up. I just don't understand why my mike fright is so horrid! 

After that howerver, It wasn’t so bad. And after another circuit I had it down. I really don’t know what my issue is, I’m not afraid of talking over the radio, I’m not afraid of Tower. I wish I knew how I could get over this without having to go through the hard way. But if it’s the hard way that'll teach me, then so be it, because at least I’m learning now with my instructor and not going out on my own and being completely lost. Today, was also another days of slow flight and power on/off stalls. My slow flight is coming together amazingly, my biggest issue right now is the entry, once I nail that I think I’ll be comfortable practicing slow flight all day everyday.

Total cost invested thus far: $3325

Thursday, February 2, 2012


January 24, 2012
Pain Field
Cessna 152
1.5 hours, 4 landings

Touch and go
Waiting for him to complete his touch and go

After not having gone flying in almost two weeks I’m rusty. I felt like I had to be walked through every single maneuver, I’m sure I frustrated my instructor. I was frustrated at myself! We worked on just some manuvers over the water today. Slow flight, steep turns, power on stalls, then we went back for my first landing on the big runway. My stalls are starting to really come together nicely, and once im in my slow flight I've basically got in down (at least for this week I do, who knows how I will be next week!). 

As I was doing the usual touch and goes Tower basically yelled at me and told me to make my pattern more squared as I come into my landings. I will admit my pattern work was more sloppy than usual. I think it has to do with the fact that the runway is just so big compared to what I'm used to and the illusions were throwing me off.

The airwaves were super busy I wonder if I’ll ever be able to focus on the airwaves and fly the plane efficiently. It sure doesn’t seem like it to me. I know I’m ever slightly improving on my landings though, so that’s nice. Besides my last landing, I bounced for the first time in awhile, that was a little discoraging. Also, my instructors mike wasn’t working so I had to make all the calls, which made it even more difficult for me. It’s all still so overwhelming. When will I feel like I’ve got a grasp on things? I still feel like I’m on my second or third lesson. Its ridiculous. I still love it more than ever, I just feel like I'm hardly making progress.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Winter Wonderland

Tiny pic

Today, my instructor contacted me to cancel our flight lesson for tomorrow. We're in the midst of a winter storm. No flying for me tomorrow. Boo.

Friday, January 27, 2012

First Day of Ground School

January 9, 2012
Pain Field
Ground school

I almost forgot to give an update about how ground school is going! I can honestly say my CFI did a good job teaching me the basics because the first and second week of ground school was nothing but a review for me. It felt wonderful to actually know that I am learning something! Every flight lesson I sit there more and more lost. Some days I feel like I'll never know all that needs to be learned... And I'm just working on my private pilots! Whats going to happen when I'm doing my instrument rating or working towards my commercial?! It's all so overwhelming and discouraging at times. Yet, for once I felt like I was doing alright (while short lived of course).

I'm not going to post after every ground school lesson, there's really no point, though I may give an update every now and again. Ground school is just getting me prepared for taking the written exam, though you don't have to attend a formal ground school for this. You can self-study. I however, recommend it if you have the money. I'm assuming most of the guys teaching the ground school is pretty knowledgeable, my instructor for instance always has a story to tell. It usually reinforces whats being taught and helps the information stick, there's also lots of little ways or tricks I should say that help you remember things you need to know. Not to mention the fact that you'll get to interact with other student pilots. I really have no one to talk to about my training besides my dad (no one who really understands it I should say) so its nice to meet others going through the same rewarding struggles as I.

I'm doing the traditional ground school course. Its ten weeks long, every Monday and Wednesday from 6:30pm-8:30pm. The flight school I attend has an accelerated program, its something like two or three weekends 8 hours each day and you're basically hustling through the information. If you can do that, all the more power to you! I however, prefer the slow paced method so the information can really sink. After all, I'm just starting my training and I have a long road ahead of me. All of what I'm learning now is not going to go away anytime soon.

Lesson Learned

January 12, 2012
Paine Field
Cessna 152
1.6 hours, 18 landings

Let me just start off by simply saying; worse flight lesson ever. If I had known what this day had to offer me I probably would have canceled my flight lesson, well not really because I love flying too much to willingly cancel unless Im unable to fly the plane safely. Then I would cancel. Anyways, I did nothing but touch and goes for the full 1.6 hours. I will never do that again. I’ll start off with the fact that I started my day at 5:00am after having fallen asleep at 11pm. I can usually function just fine on 6 hours of sleep. However, I had to wake up and prepare for my college courses that start at 7:30, I was then in college till 11:30, to which right after I went to my flight lesson. Needless to say I was slightly drained mentally (especially since it was the first week back), but exhilarated to be taking my flight lesson. After a week of getting back into the college schedule and being swamped with work, it was nice to get away. Yet, this flight ended up being more draining than anything I’ve ever done.

At first I was excited to do a marathon of touch and goes. That meant I could work on my radio skills as well as my landings and get that much more closer to soloing. If my CFI had thought I was getting anywhere close to soloing I know that after this flight he changed his mind. For the first half hour I was doing pretty good in the pattern. That's the key word though; pattern. My landings were absolutely all over the place, I did okay at first, then did a bunch of horrible landings, off center-line, one with a bounce, then back to doing decent, but not that great of landings. Sometime after that I started to get not just mentally but physically drained. It sure showed as well. At some point I just wasn’t able to stay consistent, my pattern was fine but my landings were getting worse. Twice I started a nose dive towards the runway and one of thoses times my instructor jumped to quickly pull the plane back up. Another time I was getting frustrated with my approach and tried to force the plane to land- bad bad BAD decision. Lesson learned; never force a plane to land if it doesn't want to! Things wont work in your favor! You must fly the airplane, not let it fly you. After that I knew I was unable to continue to fly, I was too drained to process how I needed to have my landings. My CFI saved me the trouble though, he said we’d only do 2 or 3 more, so I held my tounge. I could do a couple more, and so I did. Once we did a full stop landing I let out a sigh of relief that I hadent known I’d been holding in. I knew I had pushed myself too far this flight. I also knew I should have spoken up to my instructor, but it was a great learning expirence. I’d rather I push myself while I’m with my instructor then do that when I’m alone. I am now able to recognize when I need to stop. So it was a good learning experience.

I knew I had pushed myself too far before I even made my next string of mistakes. I honestly, don't know what I was thinking here. Perhaps just the fact that I was ready to get out of that plane so I could go home and crash. I half heartedly went over the after landing check off list and ripped the mixture out unintentionally. My instructor thankfully being on his toes saved us before it was too late. I mumbled an apology about being tiried to which he told me I needed to tell him when I was getting worn out, I already knew that though. I can tell you, I wont be making that mistake again.

After we taxied back, I was slow to get out of the plane. I felt like I was in a fog. I couldn't move quickly nor think fast enough, it was an effort just to take my seat-belt off. I couldn’t even calculate how long we’d been flying, even though I’ve done it several times, my instructor had to double check it. I also left my kneeboard in the plane and had to run back out to grab it. I was a complete and utter disaster. I wasn't able to function or think clearly, and that scared me. If I had been alone, what kind of mistakes would I have made? I don’t even want to think about it. Lesson learned. I no longer need to guess about what my limits are. I now know and will be able to tell for future flights. I won’t make this mistake again.

Total cost invested thus far: $2769

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Another Ground Lesson

January 5, 2012
Pain Field
Ground lesson
.6 hours

I woke up around 7am, feeling like death and congested like no other. Worried I’d have to cancel my flight I got up and jumped in the shower before going downstairs to make myself something to eat. By this time I felt much better and noticed my congestion would come and go. I waited a little longer before calling my instructor to see what he thought. He said we could give it a try.

As I sat in my car, I could feel the wind shaking it. Definitely not a good sign. I got out and walked toward the flight school, as I did so the wind was blowing my hair all over the place. I had a sinking feeling it was going to be too windy to go up. My assumption was correct. My CFI was already waiting for me, and told me there was wind shear so we wouldn’t be going up. We had a few things to go over though. So at least my drive there wasn’t a waste. He talked about spin recovery. Not that we had to do them, but that I’d need to know the procedures to get out of one. So here we go again with the acronyms: PARE.

Power – idle
Ailerons- neutral
Rudder- Full opposite
Elevator- forward to break stall

I thought it was really odd that you’d need to push forward on the yoke, wouldn’t you want to pull back so you could get out of it? But no, you wanted to push forward so you could again get lift, break the stall and then pull up.

Then he briefly talked about forward slips. You know, if you’re too high when you’re coming into landing. Or if there’s crosswinds. You want to turn into the wind and then apply opposite rudder.

Power- Idle
Rudder (usually full)
Nose down- not up ( you don’t want your air speed to increase)
Flaps 20- not full

15 minutes in and my instructor is already putting me to sleep. So many different procedures for all these different maneuvers. Would I honestly be able to remember all of them? How many more did I have to learn?

“So what do you think a runway incursion is?” he asked. As with almost every other thing I have no idea. So I throw a guess out there. “When two planes run into each other on the runway….?” He shook his head and said, “that would maybe be a runway collision”. A runway incursion is basically when a plane is on the runway when they aren’t supposed to be. I laughed at myself. Apparently, my CFI had thought the same thing when he was asked way back whenever it was he learned all this. So that didn’t make me feel so retarded. Which is rare because usually at these lessons I always feel dumb. I never know anything, even if I try and read up ahead of time. So whenever my instructor asks me anything, I normally guess, and about 95% of the time is a wrong guess.

Next he discussed wind shear. He said he usually keeps his knots up when coming into landing. Let’s say the winds at 5, with gusts at 20. You’d take the distance between the 2, which would be 15 and cut it in half to add to your approach speed. Which would be about 7, so you would add that. If the winds are strong you also don’t want to have your flaps full. And finally, there was a quick discussion of microburst.

Before I headed out I asked him if ground school (which I’ll be starting in 4 days) was going to be as boring as this. He said the guy teaching it was a cool guy, and usually students didn’t come out complaining about him. Plus they had videos and PowerPoint’s. Not just a whiteboard and a marker. I still am not looking forward to my ground school, not mixed with everything else I have going on. But I am looking forward to becoming more knowledgeable.

On a side note, my solo was brought up finally, and how after this that’s what we’ll be working on- getting me to solo. I’m excited and terrified! My goal is to solo by my 20th birthday which is in March. That gives me about 2 months and a couple weeks. I hope I can do it.

Total cost invested thus far: $2475