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Finished Up…Finally!

Private Pilot April 17, 2010

April 17, 2010 will be remembered by many people for different reasons.  For me it is the date when I finally achieved a life goal of earning my Private Pilot Certificate.  The journey began almost two years ago when I started learning to fly.  It was my original goal to complete my certificate by January 25, 2010 when I turned 50.  It took me a few months longer but I finally finished this morning.   I got to the airport at 8:00am this morning to meet Bill(my examiner).  I told him I had done my weather briefing already and just needed to preflight the airplane and then we would be set to go.  He reviewed what we would be doing in the airplane once I was ready to go.  I went to preflight the plane that I thought we would be in but Bill said he had changed me to a different plane that I already had the weight and balance completed for yesterday’s flight we didn’t take.

I preflighted the plane and had it fueled.  I asked him if he would like a passenger briefing and he said “No, it wasn’t necessary because he was familiar with the plane already.”  I called ground and said that we were ready to taxi and we were cleared to taxi to runway 31 via Echo and Alpha.  We taxied down to the run-up area near runway 31.  I did the run-up and then taxied to the holdshort line for runway 31.  I called the tower to say I was ready for take-off.  He told me to hold short for landing traffic.   After the other traffic had landed and cleared the runway the tower cleared me for takeoff.  Bill told me that my first takeoff would be a softfield takeoff.  I took off and then we proceeded on my crosscountry course.  I did two ground speed checks and then he set the VOR frequency and asked to me to set up to fly the the VOR he put in the radio.  I tuned it in and turned my course to the south to track to the VOR. 

Next he had me put the hood on and we went through turns, descents, changes in heading and airspeeds.  He had me do 180 degree turn to simulate going into the clouds and getting out of them.  After the hood work he had me set up for slow flight in the dirty configuration and make 90 degree turns left and right.  Next he had me do a power off stall.  After the power off stall I had to do a departure stall.  Once the stalls were completed it was on to steep turns.  He told me before I began that I would make a left steep turn and then immediately roll into a right steep turn.  This made me a little nervous because I never done that before with my instructor without some time in between the two steep turns.  After I was done with the steep turns he pulled the power on me for my emergency landing.  I found my field directly below me and circled down to my altitude to recover at while adding flaps for my descent.  

After completing the manuevers he had me track the VOR back to the airport.  He said coming in that I would do a shortfield landing followed by a shortfield takeoff.  When I turned base to final, I over shot final and did a go around.  I came back around and did a short field landing followed by a shortfield takeoff.  When I came back around to land he said it would be a full stop so I radioed the tower and said so.  We taxied off at A3  and into the ramp and parked the plane.  He congratulated me and said I passed and we would talk about a few things about the flight inside.  I did a final check around the plane, got the Hobbs, tach, and tin for the plane and headed inside.  Once inside we went and debriefed the flight.  He said that I forgot to pull the carb heat in my emergency landing and that I needed to trim the plane more effectively and use more right rudder.  He demonstrated how my foot should be placed on the floor of the plane to most effectively use the rudder.  He said overall a good performance in flight.

After the debriefing we went to the computer and did what we needed to do with IACRA and printed my temporary certificate and he endorsed my logbook for the checkride.  One of the CFI’s took me outside to take my picture by the plane with my certificate.  I was absolutely exhausted when everything was done.  Two sleepless nights followed by my the checkride.  My examiner wasted no effort or time on the plan of action he had to get us through the checkride efficiently.  When it was all done I was sure that hours must have passed but was surprised to see 9:30am on my watch.  Only 1 1/2 hours had passed.  A flying friend had told me that he thought I would probably find the checkride enjoyable once it got started.  He was correct but he didn’t prepare me for how fast we would complete everything.  It was hard to have the checkride spread out over two days but the better weather for the flight was well worth the wait.  PRIVATE PILOT …Finally!

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2010 in Flight training

 

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Halfway to the Finishline

Its been almost two years since my journey began in learning how to fly.  Today I was prepared to take my checkride with my examiner.  Last evening I found out where I had to plan my cross-country trip to for the examiner.  I began planning around 8pm and finished my 10pm.  I wanted to get to bed early so I wasn’t tired for my checkride.  I crawled into bed by 10:30pm and had the most frustrating night of sleep.  I finally fell asleep and had a night filled with dreams.  I told my CFI that I would tell her one of the dreams I had about my checkride but only after I had completed my checkride.

I got to the airport by 8am so I could input the current weather and preflight the airplane for the checkride.  My examiner arrived at 9:30 for our checkride at 10am.  We began with making sure all of my documentation was in order.  After we finished with the documentation he began by explaining what the oral exam would include.  He began asking me questions and I started answering them.  The time seemed to go fast and I was surprised that the topics that I really stressed about were never asked about.  When we were all finished he reviewed a couple of items that I answered incorrectly and why my answers were incorrect.  I looked at the clock when he said we were finished and a hour and a half had passed.

Next he told me to go and check the current weather and decide if we were going to complete the flight portion as well today.  When I got to the airport this morning I was concerned at the winds for the day and the gust factor as well.  I thought maybe they would lessen as the day went on but at 11:30 they had not yet lessened.  At one point the examiner saw me staring at the weather report and said  “Staring at the report will not make it change.  I’ve been there before”    I told him that I wanted to wait until 11:53am when the new METAR would be out.  I decided to go and preflight the airplane while I waited for the new METAR.  My decision was that if the winds and the gust factor increased that I would not go and if they decreased to my flight limits then I would go. 

When I finished preflighting the plane I checked the weather and the winds had increased my 1 knot from 16 to  17 kts and the gust factor from 23 to 26 kts.  So I went in and found the examiner that I was choosing not to continue with the flight test portion of my checkride.  He said that we would go tomorrow morning at 8am if the weather was good.  So far it looks much better than today and now I am stressing about the flight portion for tomorrow.  I hope I can get some sleep tonight.

Tomorrow morning before my flight I need to input the current weather into my cross-country plan and get to the airport and preflight the airplane.  I really want to be able to pass it on my first try but I am concerned that I will forget to do something important or not be able to do my landings within PTS standards.  They seem to be my weakest point.  Hopefully the stars will align tomorrow morning and I will be able to remember and do what I need to complete my flight test.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2010 in Flight training

 

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SATURDAY’S SUNSET

 A perfect day for me is always one that is ended with a beautiful sunset.  I was treated to just such a day yesterday.  I worked the morning at our business and then made a trip to the airport for an afternoon of flying.  I am getting ready for my  check ride and needed to practice my manuevers that I need to demonstrate on my flight test.

The afternoon was sunny but windy.  There was a strong crosswind from the west that made flying interesting and challenging.  I was bounced around as I practiced my manuevers in the practice area.  When I came back to the  airport it was time to practice power off landing but I kept getting blown off my course as I tried to land with the power set to idle and ended up doing some go-arounds.

I was exhausted as I left the airport after two hours of flying and as I was headed home the sun was setting.  Winter and early spring are my favorite times for sunset photos because of the tree silhouettes.  I love the longer days of spring and summer.   Hopefully there will be less of a crosswind on Friday for my check ride and plenty of sunshine.  I’m so excited to be this close to my check ride!

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2010 in Flight training, Nature

 

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Flying High

Flying over Hartford, CT

Last Wednesday morning I was flying high with my daughter. We were on our way to Springfield, MA for the NCAA Division 2 basketball tournaments. We had planned on leaving Tuesday evening on a flight after her night class was finished. It would take us 3 flights to get to Springfield., MA The first leg was from Mpls. to Denver, the second leg was from Denver to Charlotte, and the third leg was from Charlotte to Hartford, CT. Once we arrived in Hartford we would take a taxi to Southern Auto Auction to pick up a Chevy Impala we would be driving home after the tournament.

On Tuesday evening as my husband was driving us to the airport to catch our flight I received a phone call from Delta Airlines to say that our flight was canceled to Denver due to a snowstorm. They said not to worry that we had been booked on a non-stop flight departing at 7:15 am Wednesday to Hartford, CT. We decided to stay the night at the airport instead of driving the two hours home and then back again in the morning. We checked in with Delta for our new flight and were told it was in first class. I’m fifty years old and have never flown first class until this point in time. Our new flight didn’t give us much time to get to the car auction and the 20 mile drive to MassMutual but we parked the car and just as we were purchasing our tickets for the game we heard the tip off for the game. SCSU won their game against MSU. It was a great game and time spent with my daughter, just the two of us. Thursday evening we watched the next game between SCSU and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. SCSU lost the game and so it was time for the long drive home to Minnesota, only 1500 miles.

Today I did a different kind of flying high. I had a couple of hours up in a Cessna 152 trying to prepare for my checkride. It has been almost two weeks since I’ve flown and it felt good to be up again. The winds aloft were strong and it was difficult to practice manuevers especially the ground reference manuevers. It had been awhile since I practiced crosswind landings and takeoffs so I spent some time on them and they went pretty well. I kept telling myself centerline, centerline, centerline…don’t get slow…the words from my CFI’s kept running through my head today. There is so much to remember to do it right. I’m looking forward to next week when I fly with my CFI and trying to finish up for my checkride.

Soon I hope to be flying higher still after passing my checkride.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2010 in Flight training

 

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OVC 001

OVC 001

OVC 001
Day number three and counting. For student pilots this is a weather description you would rather not see if you planned on flying. It means that the cloud ceiling is 100ft above ground level and not fit for flying. This past week I have scheduled two lessons to prepare for my checkride (flight test). Both have had to be canceled due to fog. The forecast for tomorrow is more of the same. They updated the forecast from 50% chance of rain to 90%.

I noticed as the number of foggy days increases the overall attitude of the employees and customers at work has deteriorated. No sunshine for day number four tomorrow. The last time we had a weather pattern like this last winter I told my husband that if I didn’t see the sun soon I was going to look for the nearest sunny weather and start driving that direction until I found it and I wasn’t coming home until sun was in the forecast at home as well. The sun came out the next day so no road trip.

I would love to get on a plane at this point in time and fly to a flight school where sunshine abounds and spend a few days flying and then schedule my checkride, hopefully pass my test and then fly back home. It seems like such a long process to finish up with all the weather interruptions. I have one lesson and then it seems like weeks before I get a second one and then everything we worked on and improved on has to be worked on once again.

Oh well, there is always next week. Spring and summer have to eventually arrive in Minnesota.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2010 in Flight training

 

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Extended Centerline- Where Am I Going?

Redwood Forest - They know where they are going...UP! UP! UP!!!

This morning I was up flying with my CFI trying to polish up a few maneuvers before we schedule my check ride.  As I was taking off I started thinking about the extended centerline of the runway.  When I was learning how to fly, I learned to look down the centerline of the runway, look beyond, find something straight ahead for a reference point.  The purpose is so that when I can no longer see the runway line ahead of me as I lift off the runway there would be a  point ahead that will help me keep aligned to the runway and on course.

I probably should have been more focused on my flying instead of my thoughts because my manuevers weren’t great.  Some days are thinking days for me and I just have to go with them.  In life, I think to get where we want to go we have to have an extended centerline.  We have to have a place ahead of us in time that when we are on a path somewhere and we can’t see exactly where we are, we can look ahead and say, “There is where I want to be and adjust my course to get back on track.” 

Extended center lines can take many forms in life.  For some it is making a to do list each day and strictly adhering to it moving neither to the left or the right and crossing off item after item as the day progresses.  Others set longer term goals without much thinking about time, money or a path to their goals.  It doesn’t matter how or how long it takes to get to their goal or who they have to step over or on as long as they eventually get there.  I like to share my goals, life dreams and plans with others so that I am held accountable if it is truly something I want to carry out. 

Flying for me has been a life dream since I graduated from high school.  I started pursuing it almost 30 years later but it is still something I want to do.  I’m near the end and close to my check ride.  At first I didn’t tell anyone except for my husband that I was learning to fly.  A couple months went by before I told my four kids.  Its been a year and half since I started and now the hard part is being so close to the end and having the friends and family that I shared my dream of flying with asking me, “Are you done yet?” 

They are my extended centerline, the ones who keep me on course, when I have days of flying like today where nothing seemed to go right and I find myself asking “Why am I doing this?”  It would be easier to not push myself to finish up and complete what I started but the certificate in hand will be worth all the hard work, late nights studying, and sleepless nights wondering if I would ever be able to land the plane correctly. 

Do you have someone to encourage you, someone to be your extended centerline.  Life is hard, but having someone to help keep you on course and on the path you intended makes the journey so much sweeter.  I’ve looked around me and starting thinking about others that I could mentor or be their extended centerline.  That someone could be younger or older.  There are always ways to encourage others, you just have to start the flight.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2010 in Flight training

 

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Low Ceilings

Low ceilings on the way to the airport

 

In Minnesota you just expect cold, snowy weather in January.  I wasn’t expecting days of fog and low ceilings.  With only one brief lesson left before my Private Pilot Checkride I am extremely anxious to finish up.  This past week the weather has not been good VFR.  I need a couple of good flying weather days to complete my goal of earning my private pilot certificate before I turn 50 years old on January 25.  I have been working at this for the past year and a half and now I am on the final stretch but the weather just will not cooperate.

Some would say that I shouldn’t have cut it so close to my finish date with not enough time to reach my goal but life gets in the way sometime especially when your 18 year old daughter has a baby in the middle of flight training that you didn’t expect.  This fall was to be our empty nest time but our home is fuller than ever.  I love our grandson dearly and even if it has complicated my goals I wouldn’t change a thing.  The 25th was my goal but it is not set in stone.  Next week I have another chance at finishing up my private.  Monday I have a lesson scheduled and if I can finish with up with my CFI then I can schedule my checkride for maybe next Thursday or Friday and still meet my goal provided I pass.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2010 in Flight training

 

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