August 13th, 2009

planet

flying, failure and honesty

Most of my flying entries have been private lately, because I'm ashamed of how things have gone. But that's not my normal style. No, I started these blog entries to be honest about my progress as a student and I need to keep it that way.

The forecast does not look good.

I am at 34.2 hours.

Last weekend, I went on a pre-solo progress check and did not pass. It was cut short for weather, but had it gone on, it would have been a big mark against me. I failed to demonstrate good directional control on landings, and broke altitude on steep turns, among other minor things. I accepted it... then as days went on I felt worse and worse. I thought my first solo was so close, and now it's not. at all. It's just eating at me.

Tonight I had a practice flight with my normal instructor to see if we could clean things up and have another go at that check. Steep turns improved, I bet I could pass on those now. The landings did not. In fact, they've gotten worse... which kills me because I thought I had landings down. And since it's such a huge thing, I'm not sure what to do to get them back.

I'm really starting to wonder whether this is the right thing for me to do. Not everyone is cut out to be a pilot. I'm no quitter, and it really upsets me to think of quitting anything, and I hate admitting that there's something I can't handle. I made it through grad school. I've made it through some painful 10K races. I've worked on some ugly political campaigns. I see things through to the end.

I enjoy flying, and talking about flying, and deep down inside part of me still likes the idea of taking off in a little airplane across Kansas whenever I want to go someplace. But a bigger part of me is so incredibly frustrated, and I just don't see a light at the end of the tunnel. Even my instructor says he felt like my landings were great two weeks ago, and then what happened?

Anyway tonight I asked him if we could just move on. First solo is a silly ceremonial formality anyway, I'm sick of re-doing the same damn lessons, why can't we just skip over the short field takeoffs next time? He said he'd ask about it for me, he's not sure it's allowed. So he said we'd go up next week and do pattern work. I'm not sure I can do it. I pushed the lesson from Tuesday to Thursday, to give myself a little break. I spent June working on landings. all. of. June. Three different instructors, a dozen or so hours, we flew to little airports and just went in circles. But at least then, sometimes they'd mix things in... I can do stalls and ground maneuvers and some IFR work and slow flight.

Sometimes I feel like quitting takes a degree of courage and honesty that I don't have, that's the real problem. Maybe I'm not so tough after all, I just go with things, that's why I don't quit. It's not so noble.