Thursday, February 11, 2010

Slowdown Snowdown

The holy grail of my quest to become a private pilot remains elusive. Like much of the East Coast lately, I have been simply trudging along with little help from mother nature. Before the holidays I managed to pass my written exam. Yay me. But preparation for the subsequent check ride (road test) has been equally slow going. Regardless, I celebrated by visiting some friends in Belgium and ringing in the New Year in Amsterdam, something everyone should do at least once.

Due to weather and holiday plans I ended up not flying for over a month. Trying to fly solo afterwards proved an unpleasant experience. It feels as though I've slipped back a bit in terms of raw piloting technique. My landings remain quite polished. But the other skills, however, feel and look quite rusty. So I've been flying with Dick Yates, the owner of CFC and senior CFI. He's had many useful tips. Last time we flew, practicing slow flight, I managed to fly the plane at an astonishingly snail-paced ground speed of 20kts!

Besides the drudgery of reading and reviewing manuals that explain in detail every precise component of various maneuvers ... the weather has been extremely uncooperative the last couple of months. Virginia has seen record snowfall this Winter. While I'm enjoying finally having a fourth season here in the South, the local infrastructure is somewhat ill equipped to handle this much frozen precipitation. Plus, flying in the snow is a no-no.

Today was one of those special days where the snow and ice start to melt enough so that you can actually see entire road surfaces, driveways and sidewalks. Sadly, the winds were too strong for me to practice even with an instructor. I'm not sure if mother nature is mocking or teasing me, perhaps a little of both.

On the bright side, I am getting lots of good experience. My patience, however, is pretty much gone in terms of actually becoming a private pilot. Although it's not like I'd actually be flying anywhere right now. Just the same, I'm anxious to wrap things up. Once I do get my certificate, however, I'll be much more experienced than your average newly minted PIC. Both Dick and Shane claim I'm ready to take my check ride right now. My feeling is a bit different. I want to feel a sense of mastery over the plane not just a high level of proficiency.

Ahh. Nothing like a blog to get your whine on. I've said it before and I'll say it again, "It's tough being a white man."

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