Flight School Update – Post-Solo Thoughts

Since I did my first solo last week, I’ve built up about 5 hours of solo flight now. Previous to that, my instructor mentioned several times when she took me up in more questionable weather, that I’ll need to start thinking about what my personal limits will be – what I’m confident I can handle with regards to winds and crosswinds, and what I might not be able to land the plane safely in.

Post-solo, having flown a bunch on my own, I’ve noticed it really does change the way I think about that. The safety net is gone, but not only that. For the last ten years, I’ve been working in a call centre environment, and that’s an environment where, despite what management will try to push you to believe, the completion of whatever task you perform is dependent on the performance of so many other individuals, that it’s very difficult to excel, and sometimes indeed, to even complete the task assigned at all. You’re either waiting on someone else to complete something, or transferring to another department, or waiting for a tech to arrive and finish the repair that couldn’t be done over the phone, or trying to pick up where another rep left off and they left incomplete notes because they were rushed because of limits on time provided to leave notes, or maybe they just didn’t care enough, or you’re dealing with a customer that someone else made angry, etc. It’s a grinder that you beat your head against the wall and no matter how hard you try, you can’t get ahead or on top of things because that would mean that everyone else in the entire company would have to be on top of things, and everything the company does reflects on you as far as the customer is concerned, and as far as management is concerned, your entire department’s performance is a reflection of your performance.

In the air though, it’s different. In that plane, it’s all on you.

At which point I think how on earth have I not managed to kill myself by now?

And one of the instructors replies “Ha. I think if you don’t feel that way at least once in a while, they make you hand back your license.”

That was Chuck – he’s a fun guy. I flew with him today because my main instructor had to go home. I also flew with Thiea today, and she’s the main flight test examiner, so it was nice to get to know her a bit. I won’t be so scared of her when I go to take my flight test, and Sandra keeps reminding me that’s going to be coming up fast.

Anyway, this week was mostly solo time building, practicing soft field and short field landings (I’m getting good enough at landings now to do different kinds rather than just hoping I can make the runway without having to overshoot :P) and then a couple of flights doing unusual attitudes under the hood (you wear this hood thing so you can’t see out the windows, but you can still see the instrument panels, and you have to fly using just the instruments) and some forced and precautionary landing approaches, which I’m doing much better on than I was. Not that I’ve had much practice at them – I’ve done maybe three or four forced landings, a couple more approaches, and about three precautionary approaches, including the two from today. With precautionaries, you fly a low pass over the field  to check the field conditions before landing, and that can be tricky because you want to fly low and slow enough to be able to see the field, but not so low and slow that you have to pay too close attention to flying the plane, or you don’t get the look at the field you wanted to get. The trick there is to get it set up in level flight before you reach the field, then you just have to hold it there. Anyway, I think I got that down.

Next week will be a big week. We’ve got my first an second dual cross country trip booked. First one is too Lac Du Bonnet, then to Steinbach, and then back to St. Andrews. And I have to do up the flight plan and all that crazy stuff. It has math. And I got this awesome doohicky – a flight computer, also known as an E-6B or a whiz-wheel. I think it’s the coolest thing in the world, because these puppies have been around since World War II, with little or no design change. There are computers that do this now, of course, but hey, if your electrics go down, how are you going to calculate flight time and fuel burn now, sucker? Plus, they’re awesomely retro – dieselpunkish even.

In other news, mid week, I got hit with a shiny new idea, writing wise, and I’m pretty sure I know what I’m going to be writing for NaNoWriMo this year. It will be YA this time, and guess what it’s going to be about! (Three guesses, first two don’t count :P)


4 responses to “Flight School Update – Post-Solo Thoughts

  1. I like that there’s a bit of mention of writing in this blog. Also a general thought – it sounds like you are being allowed to find your own limits in what you do in life rather than having someone else impose them on you, that’s got to be good…

    What are you going to do for NaNoWrMo? Let me see, maybe a story involving flying machines? Strong female lead character? Backdrop might be a disfunctional society with a bit of class conflict. That’s my first guess.

    I hope next week goes well for you. Did the medical stuf get worked out?


    • Yeah, the medical stuff was what I was waiting for to be allowed to solo at all. That’s the last roadblock outside of my control, gone.

      New story – mostly correct, but less class conflict in this case. The theme in this one will be looking at a more individual level of privilege, and luck being a big part of privilege in this setting. The setting will be a world where people are linked to the earth so deeply that they cannot leave the ground – eg: only very healthy people can live on second stories of houses, and sick people are instructed to go barefoot because the touch of the ground helps them recover. But there’s the odd person who’s not earth-bound, and most of those are found and invited to join this organization of pilots that I haven’t thought of a name for yet, that are kind of a humanitarian organization, running missions for the benefit of mankind, delivering medicines, water bombing forest fires, stuff like that.

      But then I needed a plot. I got stuck on that eventually until I realized I really hate the idea of people being randomly special. I know it’s a popular motif in YA fantasy, but I hate it.

      Then I thought, what if someone was earth-bound, but wanted to fly badly enough they would do whatever they had to? And then things kicked off.

  2. Heh, I like your comments:
    At which point I think how on earth have I not managed to kill myself by now?

    And one of the instructors replies “Ha. I think if you don’t feel that way at least once in a while, they make you hand back your license.”

    You see, the same goes for Engineers. 😉
    I tell my guys if they aren’t waking up in a cold sweat worrying about their designs at least a couple of times a year, then they’ve gotten complacent and WILL kill someone. I little paranoia is good when thinking about the public (and yourself of course)

    • That’s a good way of thinking about it. It’s not like fixing someone’s computer, where the worst thing that could happen is you break their computer. It’s got to be important to realize the consequences of fucking up when it could kill someone.

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