March 15th, 2012

planet

my flight review

So here's something you don't want to hear at a biannual flight review: "Let's see, since you got your license in 2010 you've flown... 8 TIMES?!" Yup that's me! I told him I'd had a baby. He said that was a good excuse.

It was not an awful flight, despite my lack of skills, and the fact that it was so windy, 16 gusting to 22 knots, and really hazy. Visibility was crap.

VFR pilots like me are required to be able to see outside, we can't fly through clouds or fog or things like that. So per the rules we can only fly if visibility is 3-5 miles, depending on airspace. The weather over the ATIS just says visibility is "greater than 10".

You're so used to hearing those 6 or 10 numbers that you just figure that's how life is, and then one day visibility isn't "greater than 10", it's like 8. And it's AWFUL, and you're wondering if you're breaking the rules, you feel like you can't see anything! The horizon is a blur, lakes look like fields.

It was a day like that a few years ago when my instructor said that, on a clear day, visibility is like 80 miles. Especially in Kansas! And I really saw it on our night cross country. We went to an airport 60 miles away, landed, took off, turned around and there was Wichita, glimering in front of us like it was a minute away.

So there's the rules (3-6 miles), there's what you're used to (80 miles), and there's in between (WTF IS GOING ON?) and that's where we were on the flight this week.

The instructor said I was good on some things, like the radio, but shakey on other things (like flying) so he wants to fly again and that's fine. I told him I didn't feel very confident. Nothing went particularly bad, it just didn't go particularly well either, I felt overwhelmed. I failed to start a descent at the right time to hit my destination airport, had trouble holding altitude, forgot to raise flaps after takeoff several times (grrrr).