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Back in the Saddle

It’s been too long since I’ve flown from the left seat, and even longer since I’ve written about it. That’s the way things have progressed, and I can only look forward. Right?

Since last post, I’ve done a lot of training, flown a few dual cross countries, soloed a few more times (not cross country), and had two significant learning experiences with Captain Glickman – an aborted takeoff on a wet grass strip that almost had us in the trees, and an IFR night flight into a thunderstorm. Yes, significant learning experiences.

At some point I may take the time to fill in the blanks (and share those two stories), but for now I need to focus on moving forward. And upward!

I hardly flew over the Winter, and then as Spring approached, it seemed like every time I had a lesson scheduled, the wind was 20 something, gusting to 30 something. For months, it had been like this. Then on a beautiful day, both planes at SCH didn’t pass my preflight inspection. Lovely. That was completely discouraging. So I just sat here waiting for something to happen. I don’t know what I was waiting for.

It seems that I’m at the point where a lot of aviation students stall (pun intended) in their training. Just at the point when it’s time to make that first solo cross country flight. For whatever reasons, hesitations, confidence issues, etc., it’s a stall.

No one pushed me to continue. My flying community has been quiet. My EAA boys telling me “you’ll finish up in the Spring”. I think I was waiting for someone to push me forward, even though I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I had to come around to my own approach to this endeavor. What do I really want to do?

I want to fly. I know that. I needed to remind myself that I want to fly from the left seat. Not just in the right seat of the N7292J. I want the left seat, and someday I want to land on the water. It’s a silly dream, but it’s my dream.

I’ve drawn a line in the sand, and I’m moving forward. I’m back over at 5B2 with my original instructor, who I think may be a better fit now that I have more experience behind the yoke. It’s time to fill in the blanks (I feel like I have a LOT of blanks), and I think he’s the best fit for doing just that. My tactic now is to just move forward as aggressively as I can afford (financially and work-time wise) – hoping to get into the training plane at least twice a week.

I took to the sky this morning in an older C172, with Dale, my original instructor at 5B2. Getting to know a new plane is fun, and I like the N3688L. Some of the instruments threw me off a bit (there’s no blue on the attitude indicator), but as Dale says, “there’s plenty of blue outside”. It’s a different type of training, and it’s what I need.

Yes, I’m still ground shy. Yes, I still have issues announcing in uncontrolled airspace (I think I’m one of the few students that prefers a towered airport). Yes, runway 23 seems so short and everything happens so fast at 5B2 for me. Dale worked really well with me on all of this.

There’s no GPS in the plane, so I need to rely on what I know about where I am.  I need to look outside more, and rely less on the instruments. Look at the map before I go anywhere. I see all of this as a good thing at this point of my training.

I had a great morning in the sky. A few power-off stalls, 360 turns, a nice flight over my favorite lake, and then touch and gos, focusing on the visual reference for the right pitch. It’s a different plane, so it’s a different picture, but my landings were just a bit bumpy. Oh, and yes, he pulled the throttle for a simulated engine out right over a grass strip that I couldn’t even make out as a runway. I would have picked any one of the many fields that we were over. Yes, time to learn all of this all over again.

Happy to be back behind the yoke. Happy to be in the cockpit with Dale. I think he’s the right man for the job right now. And the job is for me to move forward.

Happy landings!

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Catching Up: From Part 61 to Part 141

Catching up (yes, it’s been a while). I had originally planned to create a slew of posts and add them, one by one, to the blog. Recreating the flying adventures I’ve had in the past month. Yes, it got put on the back burner.

So, I’m going to attempt to play catch up in one post here.

I’ve changed instructors. Moved over from a Part 61 to a Part 141 School. Mostly because I wanted a more structured environment, and I felt that I needed a different type of instructor. I need someone who will explain (and understand that I need to know) HOW everything works. The physics. The math. The works.

I had one experience that was just NOT pleasant, which is when I stopped writing posts. Interesting. I went up for a lesson on a day when they hadn’t plowed the runways and there was a dusting of snow covering them completely. Went up to do a few landings, but I found that I couldn’t even land her once. Couldn’t get my bearings at all while we were up there and coming in. Nothing was working. And yes, I cried when the lesson was over and I was back in my car. Miserable day in the sky. Everyone assured me that they all had at least one day like that. My friend, Captain Ameden, talked me through the experience and made me feel much better. Folks chimed in on Twitter and Facebook and helped me get over the day, and back in the air again.

I love Dale and appreciate everything that he taught me. Loved that 172. But I needed something different. And I’ve found it. Finding the school was easy. Finding the instructor took a bit of interviewing – and immediately discounting the kids young enough to be my children!

I’m now flying out of KSCH, with the Richmor flight school. My instructor is Steve Davies (a retired GE engineer), and I love the way Steve teaches. Extremely methodical, and he talks me through everything. I’ve had two lessons with him so far, and I’m very pleased.

We’ve gone back through some of the lessons I’ve already had, but that’s a good thing, and I’m getting to know a new 172 (the N64281 – definitely a male plane. Yes, they have genders!). Getting to know the layout of an unfamiliar airport as well. One with a tower! Oy!

I’m very happy that I’ve made this move.

My recent adventures:

Flying home from Sanford, ME

Five Alarm Chili Cook-off and Safety Seminar at KSFM on 1/22. Flew in the N7292J with Captain Glickman. The sky was beautiful and I flew from the right seat. It was FREEZING that day, and we covered the plane with a few blankets to keep her warm on the ground. What a glorious sky we had on the way home. The mountains between Maine and home were covered with snow, and the landscape was glorious. And, yes, I won the People’s Choice award in the chili cook-off!

Fly-In Lebanese Feast at The Runway Restaurant at Barnes (KBAF) on 1/30. We flew up the day before to cook, in Captain Ahab’s (Haddad) Arrow. Great day for flying, and I got to fly up front from the right seat on the way home. She handles differently from the Cherokee, and it was thrilling to bring her in on approach at KALB. Captain Glickman helped me land her, but I had a good feel for how she handles, and if I remember correctly, my final approach was pretty damn good!

The sunset on our way home from Barnes

The next day we went back for the feast, but the WX as not good enough for us to all fly. Most folks drove over to the feast, but we took to the skies in the N7292J (with an instrument rated captain), and had a nice trip there and back. On the way home we worked around the clouds, and I learned quite a bit about anticipating the cloud-scape above, and the landscape below. If it was just me flying, I would have turned back, but the accomplished Captain Glickman got us home safely. Again, the sky and landscape on the way home were glorious.

We had planned to fly to Ottawa for Winterlude last weekend, but the WX was not in our favor, and we were land locked for the weekend instead – enjoying the local Chowderfest and staying warm inside. Oh, and somewhere in there we flew over the blue ice shanty on the Great Sacandaga — another formation flight with Captain Cowper in his Cherokee. Yes, we flew about 1 ft above the ice again. We ended up driving out after our flyby to visit the EAA602 guys, and walked out to the shanty and watched a few light sport aircraft lift off with skis!

Me and the EAA602 pilots

Yesterday, I spent time with my EAA602 buddies at what was supposed to be a fly-in, which was a drive-in for all of us due to the winds. They told stories for hours and it was wonderful. Learned later on in the day that it’s called “hangar flying” when you sit around and do that. Perfect term!

And speaking of my EAA602 guys, I went to the monthly meeting for the EAA602 chapter. Everyone was wearing plaid flannel. I dug up my plaid flannel for the next meeting (mine’s pink, of course). I also attended the monthly meeting of our local 99s chapter. I love meeting new female flying friends. I love the aviation community!

Thanks to the folks who have kept me going through all of this: My kids, who pretend that they don’t mind that I’m spending all of my money on flying; Captain Roger Ameden, who I wish lived closer and could be my CFI; Captain Mike Speigner (Hollywood) for sending me the best learning video I’ve had so far, and for ALWAYS being there virtually to give me a pep talk; Captain Harriet Bregman for welcoming me into the local chapter of the 99s and for showing me around the hangar; Captain Ahab (aka Haddad) for letting me fly the Arrow; and, of course, my mentor and pilot-in-command, Captain Glickman.

Happy landings!

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What Certificate and Rating do You Hold?

It’s the little things in life that always make my day. Today, I went back and changed my profile on the Northeast Pilot’s Group site because I could actually answer the questions, “What certificates and ratings do you hold?”, and “What’s your homebase airport?”.

Thrilled beyond expectations to just type in “student pilot” and “5B2”. Yes, that makes a difference in my world. Along with being able to register at duat.com with my medical certificate info.

As Captain Glickman commented to me at some point recently, I’m evolving into a pilot. Yes, this evolution is grand.

WX permitting, I’ll be in the air again tomorrow for another lesson.

Happy landings!

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Medical Certificate Third Class

Just went out to get the mail, and a large envelope from the FAA is in the pile! It was either going to be yes or no, and it’s YES! Today of all days. Perfect timing.

The language is a bit confusing — “you are ineligible for medical certification under Title 14” … (I have asthma) … but read on … “I have determined that you may be granted an Authorization for special issuance of the enclosed third-class airman medical certificate” …

I now have in hand — from the USA Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration — my medical certificate third class and student pilot certificate. Airman’s signature required. Airman? Why, that would be me!

Of course, I prefer Aviatrix …

Happy landings!

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