I got the official word from the FAA this week that they are issuing my third class medical. Yeah! It has been a little over a month of worrying that after all my hard work of learning to fly that I wouldn’t be able to for lack of a medical certificate.
Last Wednesday evening I attended a seminar for Seaplane Ground School as part of the FAAST program. It’s another flying rating I’ve thought about pursuing and this was the first step. When I arrived at the hangar where the seminar was held I felt like I was “fresh meat” not because I was one of three women in a crowd of about 90 but because they were looking for new members for their chapter. I told them that I probably wouldn’t be a good candidate because I live over 130 miles away and I probably wouldn’t be driving to the monthly meetings or to their Saturday morning Young Eagles. I would need to find something closer to home.
One observation I have made in the past few events that I have attended relating to flying is that there is an aging population of pilots out there. I’m fifty but at the meeting last evening I was definitely one of the youngest in attendance. The same was true at AirVenture and another seminar for flying I attended about a month ago. I was wondering whether the number of younger pilots is down or are they not involved in flying clubs just like the trend in a lot of our community organizations.
At the chapter meeting last evening before the seminar began they said that one of their goals is to find a way to engage the next generations in flying. The Young Eagles program is the way they are doing it. They give airplane rides for kids on Saturday mornings trying to entice young people into a love a flying. I went on a similar ride as a young girl when I was in Girl Scouts, it did the trick for me.
What I like best about the seminars is the enthusiasm for flying that the presenter always has for whatever part of aviation they are discussing. Last evening was no exception. As he presented he made it interesting with side notes. Not just the facts. His enthusiasm for seaplanes was contagious. He talked about the ups and downs of the seaplane rating.
I visited his website after the seminar, www.flightinstructor4hire.com , and he has a lot of ideas of fun places to go with a sea plane. One of the points he made about flying a seaplane is that they try to be courteous pilots with only doing three takeoffs and landing on any one lake. He said, “After three you just become another annoying jet ski interrupting someone’s day out at the lake.”
His point about being courteous not only applies to seaplanes but to pilots in general. Since I earned my certificate I’ve had a number of people in my community that have asked if I was the one flying around and around our town and the lakes nearby. I could honestly answer no since I haven’t flown over our town since the end of April and just one pass over the town and then onto other areas. There has been a lot of low altitude flying by a few pilots in our area and it tends to make some people nervous especially with recent news of plane crashes in our area.
I’m looking forward to scheduling my first lesson soon. I need to get the girls off to college and get in some kind of routine this fall with work and then get a lesson scheduled. I’m looking forward to the new challenge and have already started reading the handbook for seaplanes. Who would have thought that a glassy water landing would be harder than one with a little chop on the surface? Can’t wait to work on landings on water!