When you’re not flying…

I started this entry awhile back, and never posted it (oops) so here it is!

Maybe you’re having to take an unintended long break from flying. Possibly you’ve been sick off and on with respiratory plague, or maybe the plane you fly hasn’t been repaired (even though it’s been weeks), or maybe a little of both. Maybe prior to this, the weather was the roadblock. What to do?

Of course, if you’re like me you have plenty of other things you SHOULD be doing, but they won’t help you in your flying career, or in my case, your progress towards getting your PPL. The worst thing is feeling discouraged because you aren’t making forward progress. So make some! Even if you’re not in the air, you can still make some progress. Study for the written, use AOPA’s Air Safety Institute to review or learn something new, attend/watch webinars such as the ones the EAA99s or FAA’s Wings hosts, and be sure to chair fly.

Sometimes it can be hard to motivate yourself to study if you’re missing out on the best part of flying—the actual flying. But unfortunately, life does sometimes get in the way. How do you stay motivated until you get back in the air?

(1) Remember WHY you are doing this.

-Fulfilling a lifelong dream?

-Beginning a new career?

-So you can fly to the beach for one day and still be home at bedtime?

-Because airplanes are cool?

(2) Remember, progress IS progress!

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-First, look at the hours you’ve accumulated.

-Then, think about all the knowledge you’ve gained.

-Finally, acknowledge, no one’s taking all that back!

(3) Remember, flying is muscle memory.

-This is an advantage and disadvantage. You may need a few weeks to get back your comfort level, but you also haven’t totally forgotten what you’re doing. If you’re a more experienced pilot than I, I’m sure your skills are more cemented in place and you’ll be fine, but me, I might have to learn some things all over again! I hope not. To quote myself back in December “After a week off I always feel like I’m going to suddenly forget how to fly. I don’t know why I feel that way! But, realistically speaking, I think missing a week, or 3 weeks like I’ve done once since I started my training, sets you back A LOT. I think, before you’ve flown, you don’t realize how much of it is muscle memory and just doing things a certain way repetitively, like you do when driving…” I have, as of today, not flown in awhile! (My last lesson having been March 4th.) sigh.

I started lessons in May of last year and definitely thought I’d be ahead of where I am now, but I’m not going to beat myself up too much. I can’t control the weather or the broken airplane. I can keep studying, consider flying elsewhere, and keep moving forward.

UPDATE: I went for a few months without a lesson. March- July are the best times to look for a job if you are an unemployed teacher. I’m happy to report, I have a teaching job until December at a school I like!

I switched airports for flying lessons, tried out various planes and instructors (all of whom I liked) and have accumulated a few hours since then. I’ll write about that in the next post. But, in other good news, I got a Mommy Pilots’ of the 99s flight training scholarship! This is the first scholarship awarded by the Mommy Pilots as they are a fairly new organization and I am really excited to be the first! Visit the Mommy Pilots of the 99s for articles about pilots who are mothers, stories about women in flight and other topics.

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Why you should use your landing lights

Saturday, March 4, 2017 – 1.2 Hours

The weather was nice for my lesson today.  We flew to a beautiful area that was a small valley with a few ponds in it.  It was a beautiful view.  Unfortunately, my camera was out of reach, so I’ll try to take some pictures next time.  We did three power off and three power on stalls.  The power offs went fine.  I need to work on 2 things with the power off stalls.  On the first power off stall I “recovered” before it actually stalled.  The second thing I need to work on is keeping the ball centered better.  I think I just need to do a lot more power on stalls, because I’m comfortable with power off, and I have done a lot more of them.

We then went back to Moontown and did 6 landings.  They were fine, but I need to become more automatic in the traffic pattern. I did learn something very valuable in the traffic pattern, which I will illustrate below with some crappy photos I took.

There was another plane in the pattern, a Champ, who consistently reported where he was as we both were doing take offs and landings. The Champ did NOT have on landing lights. If you hadn’t guessed it by the lack of concrete, etc. at Moontown, there is no tower, so you really have to rely on your eyes and other pilots reporting their positions. It is really important to stay alert. Well, we realized the Champ hadn’t reported his position in awhile (this might have been on the 3rd or 4th pattern) and we could not see him. For a split second I saw glare of the front window of the plane, then nothing again. Mr. King pointed out this is why one should always have on their landing lights. The bright white and royal blue airplane disappeared in front of the hill. If I hadn’t known it was there, I would not have seen it. When we went inside the office, Mr. King asked him if his radio died. Apparently he has a handheld radio with a short battery life and it had in fact died.

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