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finding the ground

Airplane update: I'm at 16 hours and have yet to do an unassisted landing. I'm close though. It's funny to talk about it with non-pilots, because they're usually like, "Yeah, I bet landings are a tough part of flying." Really they're not a tough part of flying... they are flying. Saying that landings are tough hurdle in flight training is like saying that choosing what ingredients to put in a soup is a tough part of making soup, or that sewing fabric together is a tough part of making clothes.

When you're in the air you're in a lot of air, so we go up there and practice things that will make me able to land. Everything I've done so far applies... we practice handling the airplane in slow flight because on landing, it's slow. We practice finding airspeeds and altitudes because that's what has to be balanced. You land an airplane by getting it into a state where the wings aren't lifting it up anymore... but if it's 10 feet above the ground when this happens, things will be uncomfortable. Same for if it's at the wrong angle or a the wrong place in the runway. So everything is timing and tradeoffs and adjustments and feeling.

There's not much to takeoffs because the airplane is going from a flat controlled place to the air, where there's lots of room. It's like jumping off a cliff... the jump is no big deal. You can jump off any cliff in the world. There's always going to be air there, and you'll always find your place in it. Maybe the Wright brothers had trouble taking off, but ever since then we've been pretty good at making shapes that fly, so it takes a student 2-3 takeoffs to feel okay about it. I was taking off by myself at lesson 3... it didn't look straight and pretty but we were airborne.

In head-case news, I've been feeling pretty good and relaxed lately but last night was funny, because when we got the airplane back to its home there was a crowd of people pushing planes inside the hangar because of the storm coming in, and this guy looks at me walking up and says, "ARE YOU OKAY?" Guess I'm not as chill as I thought! Well, we'd been landing and taking off for an hour and a half, it was tense, requires a lot of focused, maybe I just looked focused still? Nah, probably look freaked out. Good thing I still have like a million hours to go until I get done and can take passengers, I don't think people like when their pilot looks scared.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 17th, 2009 02:32 am (UTC)
When do you expect to solo?

As a side note, regardless of how many thousands of hours you've flown, and how many tens of thousands of passengers you've delivered safely from point a to b, the pax satisfaction with the flight always, always is directly proportional to the landing!
Jun. 17th, 2009 12:00 pm (UTC)
never! too scary.

I think at best I'm on the 35 hour plan.
Jun. 29th, 2009 01:52 am (UTC)
(Sorry I didn't reply to this earlier...)

Um, WHAT? I just read right now that you're doing some lessons with a new instructor, and I'm kind of glad, because I think your instructor sounds a bit green and insecure - most students solo somewhere between maybe 8 to 15 hours, definitely less than 20. Which is not to say that you suck - because I highly doubt you do!

You might want to ask the new instructor his opinion... maybe the FAA has some crazier regs than in Canada, but I doubt it. You can get a recreational permit here (able to carry one pax, no add-ons to the license) at just 25 hours, and a private license at 45. My instructor friends will say "you're just not cut out for this" if a student shows no solo potential by hour 25 or 30.

Anyway, like I said, please don't feel like it's you - it sounds more like your instructor not wanting to look silly, because if he is as green as I now suspect, he will have to send you up with a more senior instructor for a check out anyway, prior to your first solo.

Okay, sorry that was so long. Keep me posted!!! :)
Jun. 29th, 2009 01:59 am (UTC)
Actually, my response above was too nice. GET A NEW INSTRUCTOR, permanently! S. is going to cost you some major $ in the long run - maybe he just wants some PIC time, who knows. But that's his problem, not yours. If you suck (I doubt it) you deserve to know, and not be strung along. You also don't need to be freaking coddled - I'm sure if S. dropped dead you would land just fine.

Okay, rant over. But please, just consider what I said. I guess I take this to heart because my first instructor was a bit of a mooch and insecure and fortunately someone stepped in and said, "Enough!" Otherwise I wouldn't have been the wiser and would have been on the 100 hour solo plan I bet. :( At least ask around (at a different school, all anonymous like if you wish) to see what some senior Chief Flying Instructor types think.

Good luck!
Jun. 30th, 2009 04:55 am (UTC)
interesting comment.

I am learning to fly in class C airspace, and I've read a few online sources say that a 40 hour solo plan isn't too crazy in that situation.

but that said I am trying out some other instructors this month, including one very experienced one... we'll see what they say. It's tough to talk about. I don't want to look like I'm rushing things.
Jun. 30th, 2009 11:30 pm (UTC)
I can see that being a contributing factor, now that you point it out, because hell hath no fury like a mad controller when some n00b cuts off an A340 in the circuit! :) (a previous instructor I had actually did this - on his private FLIGHT TEST no less, so I'm not just making that one up. Needless to say, he didn't pass the ride the first time!) I guess that means that in your case it's less the actual flying aspect that you need to get down before being released, but more so the "big picture" which does take some time to master - too bad you can't just "wing it" (pardon the pun), like you would be able to at a smaller, less busy airport.

The up side is that you do get some sort of discount (at least I think you said something to that effect) which will help mitigate that aspect. And when you do pass your flight test down the line, you'll be prepared to fly just about anywhere, which is great. :)

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )