I hadn't flown in three weeks and felt rusty and frazzled. The instructor said I looked overwhelmed, and I was. I forgot to lift flaps after takeoff... I mean, we were cruising when the instructor finally asked enough questions about why we weren't going very fast and I noticed and lifted them. That was really embarrassing. He told me the issue wasn't necessarily memorization and keeping it all in my head, but that when I was flying three times a week it was so automatic that I didn't really need to refer to checklists. But pilots should love checklists! Every time you feel like the airplane is flying okay, you should get out a checklist, review what you just did (like climb) and make sure you didn't forget anything, then review the next one.
This is a big deal because most of you know, I'm looking ahead at a huge lapse in currency. I'm determined to get my license, but will have to stop flying in the spring to have a baby. I have to stop on May 1st because that's six weeks before my due date. I've also learned from talking to people that when you combine labor recovery with newborn baby fatigue, you're doing great if you can fly three months after giving birth. So I'm making that my goal, but that means my flying will go from "1-4 times a month" to "five month break" and that's huge. I do NOT want to stop flying forever and lose my skills, after I've worked so hard for them! Yes I'm excited to have a baby and I know "having a baby changes everything" but flying is really a part of me now. Plus, there are plenty of mom/pilots in the world, I will not be the first.
I just have to plan. Chair fly during my downtime, and then go up with an instructor a few times when I'm ready to go back. And (apparently) use checklists! And if anyone else has any tips, I'd love to hear them.
I realized another thing... I really do not want to take my checkride this month, I want to take it during some time when the weather is lovely for weeks, I can get three flights right off and then go get checked. Because even though I'm technically done with the lessons, I would have busted the crap out of a checkride today. I really want to slow down. Wait until February, or maybe even March.
Anyway after the flight I went to Target for some shopping, then went home and the temperature had gone up a lot! I ate lunch and was going to maybe go for a walk... but fell asleep on the couch instead. Ah, the after-flying brain strikes again! We'd done stalls for a good hour, because I need to work on them and because I kinda wanted to test myself for motion sickness. I haven't felt pregnant-sick in a week and a half but you never know. Well I did fine with the stalls. I mean not fine, my recoveries were messy and I have a tendency to use ailerons to correct bank when we're slow which is BAD. But I felt physically great. And I'm really glad the instructor identified the aileron thing I was doing because now if I practice on my own, I know to look for it.
I'm at about 72 hours, been at it for seven months, still need two solo hours. But when people ask me if I'm close, I'm going to tell them "not really". No more "I'll have it in a month!" promises like I've wanted to say... it's not like that.