General Update – The Weather Sucks

So, those of you who don’t live under rocks will be aware of this snazzy “polar vortex” thing, which is just a fancy way of saying we’re freezing our butts of in weather colder than it’s been in decades. This plane, C-FLUG that I’m trying to do all my time-building on, is not allowed to come out and play if it’s colder than -20 degrees. There hasn’t been a lot of that all through January. In fact, every time it got warmer than -20 all January, we had either a snow storm or fog. I got out a couple of times in December, but not at all through January. I was crawling the walls.

Working on the plane with Jim helped at least. Got me out to the airport and learning. Installing new magnetos turned out to be far more interesting than removing the old ones.

In the meantime, I finished up commercial ground school, and studied for the test. Took the test, and got a partial pass. Which pissed me off royally. You have to get 60% overall, as well as 60% on each of the four sections. If you get at least 60% overall, but less than 60% on any of the four sections, you get a partial pass, and you only have to rewrite the section you failed. I failed one section by 1%. So, working on studying for that again. I did really well on air law though. It’s the math that gets me.

Did a winter survival workshop at Lyncrest, and got pulled by dogs on a sled, learned to build an igloo, and signal search and rescue planes. Slept in the igloo overnight. There were about thirty people in the course, and only around fifteen had planned on staying the night. Of those, when I got up in the morning there were seven of us that hadn’t wussed out and gone home. I don’t think of myself as tough, really, but I suppose I have to remember that’s in the context of being a country girl.

Anyway, the new mags finally came in, and we installed them, Murray Bryson took it out for a flight test, and Thursday it was finaly nice enough go flying.

The wind was forecast to be 15G25. Fifteen knots gusting to twenty five. At Harv’s Air, they don’t let students go solo if the wind is stronger that twenty knots. I was getting checked out on the runway conditions though, since the snow is packed down nice and hard now. So I had an experienced pilot going out with me – not as an instructor, just as a safety pilot, so we could still go. I figured I wouldn’t get to go alone, but at least I’d get in the air.

We got up there, and the wind was straight down the runway. It was strong – there was obvious drift in the crosswind and base legs of my circuits, and the downwind legs were very quick. The landings – I wasn’t as rusty as I was afraid I might be. First landing was nice, right off the hop, close to the beginning of the runway, and smooth touchdown. After about a half an hour, my checkout pilot got out and let me fly alone.

I remember the first time I went out with my instructor in 15G25, and thinking “how do you get this thing back on the ground without being smashed into the runway?” Thursday I was handling the wind well. I was convinced that it must not have got as windy as it was forecast.

When I rechecked the METAR, to see what it actually was while I was flying, it said 18G25. It was kind of weird. Granted, there was no crosswind to speak of, but still. I remember wind like that being more…challenging. To the point that I was convinced that it just must not be as windy as forecast. It sank in how much quicker I was to attribute how I handled it to the conditions being more favourable than I thought, than to attribute it to improvements in my own piloting skills.

After I’d done a bunch of cross country flying, I wrote about how I’d noticed my navigation skills had improved. I guess it’s obvious that the same thing would happen with the stick and rudder skills, but it’s a little different to actually notice things getting internalized. I was watching the airspeed indicator, but I wasn’t having to correct as often. I was flying more by feel, and using the instruments to confirm, rather than constantly correcting according to the instruments. It’s weird. I remember watching my instructor do everything so effortlessly, and being promised it would come. Not gonna lie, there a lot of satisfaction in being able to see that happening.