Flight School Update: Thoughts On Training Wheels And Safety Nets

Friday was too windy for the cross-country I had planned, so I went up with Sandra to do some instrument and airwork. I realized that between doing solo stuff, and my night rating with a different instructor, it’s been at least five weeks or more since the two of us had been up together.

I did better with the VOR intercepts than I have done in the past – it’s finally starting to sink in. She also taught me commercial level steep turns – instead of a 360 degree turn all the way around, you do a 180 degree turn one direction, roll level, then to another steep turn the other direction. Then we went up to 4000 feet to try and make the plane spin.

I’ll stop for a moment to describe the weather that day – there was a layer of cloud at 3500 feet, but we found a spot in the practice area where there was a good sized hole in the cloud layer so we could get up to 4000 ASL. At which point, we were just above the cloud layer, and below us was the ground, but all around, an ocean of rolling white. It was one of those days.

Anyway, it was a Cessna 172, so it didn’t want to spin worth the dickens. The last time we did spins in a 172, it spiraled the same, right away, and Sandra took over, and recovered from the spiral for me. In briefing on Friday though, since there’s a spin in the commercial flight test, she was reminding me to recover from whatever the plane is doing, not what I was told to make it do. If it spirals, recover from the spiral.

So when the plane went straight into a spiral again, I did a spiral recovery pretty much on reflex, and Sandra said I did well. I’m pretty sure she didn’t help – she definitely didn’t say she was taking over.

Afterward I was thinking about something I wrote in a post a while back – right at the beginning of my training. About how I trusted her to be able to save me from whatever I managed to screw up. And it might be because it was so long that I hadn’t flown with her that I didn’t notice the shift, but I realized that somewhere between then and now, I stopped thinking of her that way.

She must have been happy with it too, because in de-briefing, she said when I was practicing airwork solo, I could go ahead and practice spins if I felt comfortable with it. Which I think I am – I’ll be nervous doing it, but I don’t think I’ll have any trouble actually doing the maneuver. Before Friday, I wouldn’t have been, and I wouldn’t have tried to do a spin solo. Funny, I seldom feel confident doing anything until someone tells me I can. Sandra has pushed me just hard enough that I’m never quite chomping at the bit to be cut loose. I’m the sort of person who’s more likely to need to be pushed out of the nest most of the time. Sandra’s pretty attuned to telling where a student is though, and I’m sure if I hadn’t done well in that recovery, she probably wouldn’t have encouraged me to do spins solo, and it always makes me happy to have flown well, and proven myself.

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3 responses to “Flight School Update: Thoughts On Training Wheels And Safety Nets

  1. The “pushed out of the nest” analogy made me smile given the fact that there is one thing little birds have to learn to do pretty fast once they’ve been given the push…!

    Not sure if you were conscious of the close connection with your own experience there.

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