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