Okay, so as of June 19th, I am officially a high school graduate! How exciting! I’m still in denial that such an incredible chapter in my life has come to a close, but I am eager to start anew! College here I come! Don’t worry though, I won’t be far. I have decided to attend the County College of Morris where I live in Randolph studying Business Administration in the fall! As an undergrad, business is transferable into many degree programs which gives me options in the meantime.
June has been packed full of emotions! While I tend to deal with these very privately, it’s inevitable to avoid a mini meltdown once in a while. Unfortunately Tom was the victim of one of these episodes, but helped me work through it. For those of your unfamiliar with my situation, I came from a horrible situation with my last instructor before coming to Fischer. I was very insecure about my abilities as a pilot which led to a lack of confidence. I dealt with the fear of ‘not being being good enough” or “not making it” on almost a daily basis. Not a good mentally to have when your a pilot, where having confidence in your decisions and actions is crucial. While this was a vulnerable moment, it showed my passion and heart for flying.
After that, I was back on track making more progress then ever. I was finally able to let go of all the things which were holding me back so I can now excel forward. To put it in an aviation perspective, it was like having the carburetor heat on with full power. You’re still moving forward, but not at the fullest potential.
I finished the aircraft written and pre-solo exam a while ago, so once I completed those, I knew the solo wasn’t far off. I kept a checklist on my phone of all the stuff I needed to accomplish before the solo so flight by flight something was erased. This included crosswind takeoff and landings, hood work which i’ll discuss in a bit, pattern entry, emergency procedures, and of course, engine and instrument failures. As I progressed, my confidence, attitude, and decision making process did with me.
Recently, I finally completed our little checklist, so what does that mean… it’s time for a stage check to solo.
If you ask me how I feel going into the stage check, I am certainly expecting to undergo a stress test. To my own surprise though, I feel prepared to handle whatever situation I will undergo. I know I can rely on my training as I have seen over 60 hours in the sky leading to this point. I know I can fly the pattern at KCDW and KMMU (not relevant) in my sleep. At this point, I prefer Tom to stays off the controls as much as possible when were together unless he is making a demonstration or I need serious help. Why?.. you ask, I like knowing that the actions I am taking are unassisted, which gives me a piece of mind knowing that very shortly, there will no longer be an experienced instructor sitting next to me. Every decision and action will be own once I become the Pilot in Command and I feel fully ready to accept that responsibility.
Being that Tomohoro is away, my stage check must wait. However, that doesn’t mean I have to stop progressing. One of the things Tom wanted to work on was hood work or simulated instrument flying in hopes to lighten up my grip on the controls.
For never having flown using strictly instruments before, I thought I did well. Tom even let us practice unusual attitudes. My understanding is not fully there yet, but I did enjoy learning something new. To practice this, Tom would say “my aircraft” at which time I would let go of out of the controls, put my chin to my chest, close my eyes and let him disorient me by throwing the aircraft around. I can feel the changes in pitch and bank but since I couldn’t see, my body would loose track of which attitude we were in. Tom would then announce “your aircraft” which I would then reply “my aircraft”, put my head up and eyes open to figure based off the instrumentations what action I need to take to recover to straight and level flight.
After fixating on the instruments, I found myself struggling to switch my focus outside when we went back to flying VFR. In my head I had to keep repeating to “look outside”. I handled our entry into the pattern nicely with a smooth landing to end the lesson. I learned that a gentle touch can still go a long way, so now I will be sure to loosen up my grip a bit. I enjoyed my intro to instruments lesson today and I will keep you posted on solo status.