Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Adventures in Aviation, Part XIV

I'm going to get a medical exam today. The kind you need if you want to fly airplanes by yourself. Sigh. I'm growing up so fast…

I had another flying lesson this past Saturday and it was beautiful day to fly (as evidenced by the photo of the hangars above). It had been a month since my last lesson (if you don't count the couple of Thursdays I went up with Wes). The last lesson was mildly traumatic, and not because anything bad happened. Just because three sour landings made my confidence evaporate into a small poof of air and all I could think about was how deadly flying solo would be (deadly for me). I couldn't get my head screwed back on straight for days. It was weird. I have never felt so defeated and deflated before.

Things are better now (i.e. I'm not terrified of flying), and I left for my lesson assuring Wes that "I'm going to have fun!" My lessons aren't as new and exciting as they used to be. Generally because I spend the lesson practicing landings and flying the pattern, and there's only so much I can say about taking off, cruising up to 500 feet, turning crosswind, continuing up to 875 feet in the downwind leg, pulling back power, adding flaps, turning base, adding more flaps, reducing power, turning final and then holding your breath as you skid the plane across the runway. See? I said the whole dang thing. Minus the do it over and over again part with the landings getting progressively better or worse (depending on how much the Universe wants to screw with me).

We did several rounds of the pattern on Saturday, with Mr. Instructor requiring me to demonstrate my competence by operating the plane without his input. His input would have been useful when the tower told me "Niner-one-niver-echo. There will be a plane departing before your landing" just as I was turning base. Sooo... there's a plane that hasn't even entered the active runway yet... I am in the base leg of the pattern… descending… less than 500 feet above and 3000 feet away from the airport… the departing plane is slowly creeping onto the runway… and I'm supposed to do…. what?!? Extend my base leg until he has departed???

Apparently, that was not what I was supposed to do. Nor was the sharp turn onto final and corresponding drop in airspeed. That got Mr. Instructor real hot and bothered. He recommended doing shallow S-turns on final approach, with a go-around as the last resort if the departing plane didn't make it off the runway in time. "It would be ok to do a go-around in this situation? Even with the other plane departing? Won't we be flying right over/into each other?" I asked. I don't remember getting a clear answer from Mr. Instructor on that one. At least I know that you never want to extend your base leg!

Shortly after that exciting landing Mr. Instructor asked if I had gotten my medical certificate yet. "No" I answered. "Well you really need to get it. You have to have it before you solo" he replied. "Yes. I know. I've been meaning to do it. I've actually been putting it off. I thought it was a convenient way of avoiding the whole solo thing. Why? Would you have made me solo today?" I asked. "Yes. You're going to go get your medical and next lesson will do the same thing, but after a couple of landings I will get out and you will solo" he said.


I should reiterate.


This totally sums up my feelings.


So there we have it folks. It's been nice knowing you. I'm going to go pee in a cup in a couple hours, get my dang medical and on the next lesson, let Mr. Instructor "build my confidence" as he likes to say. I'll be giving myself some interesting pep talks in the coming days too. They'll probably go like this: "Stop being such a baby Jocelyn", or "Just get it over with. Statically you won't die. People do this every day. Man up already!"

Wish me luck!

XOXO Jelly

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