Learning to fly, but I ain't got wings

Month: April 2018

New Instructor, New Procedures, New View

As the title says, New Instructor, New Procedures, New View.  Today was pretty awesome.  After a studying hard for my IFR Written, and nailing it by the way, I have had a few cancellations due to weather and one due to getting rear ended in the car pool line at school.  That is a story for another post.

Today was exciting because …. well … I got to fly.  But more than that it was a day of firsts.

As I arrived at the club, I once again, with futility,  tried to get the hand scanner to realize that is in fact I, the master of not being able to get the hand scanner to work.  ugh.  Never fear my new instructor just pulled up and the scanner worked perfectly for him.

Before I head out to preflight we talked a bit and he asked “Did you bring your swim trunks?”  I looked at him oddly trying to figure out the relevance.  “I’m going to throw you in the deep end today.  We’re going to have to file IFR, how does that sound?”  I replied that if he was good, I was good.  First new thing, flying on an IFR flight plan.

The plan for this lesson was to fly over to KBUY and fly the RNAV24 approach, go missed and then fly back to KTTA and fly the RNAV21 approach.  He would work all of the radios and help me setup the gps but the flying part would be up to me.  Cool!

He selected an altitude that would put us in the clouds for the trip to and from so that I could experience actual conditions… no foggles! Well except for the parts where we were not in actual.  But we were in actual quite a bit so… super cool!  Another new thing!

Flying through clouds I was able to experience the lifting effect and deal with it accordingly.  I added a new instrument to scan and a new memorization called “Set Match”  a tennis reference.  This mean that I adjusted my heading but and cross referenced with the gps track to keep us flying right to the fix.

I will be honest, the flying part of this trip was not too bad.  I had some good fundamentals ingrained from my previous instructor and really it felt like a piece of cake.  I was never too saturated.  The only times I felt like I was getting close to being saturated were the brief parts.  I think, mainly, because I was trying to setup the approaches on my tablet while doing everything else.  This will come with time and experience.  Also if I was a little more organized, that may have helped out as well.

Flying to KBUY we flew direct to KBUY until we were cleared direct to DALSY.  We prepared for the procedure turn just in case but eventually we were vectored to the final approach and cleared.  Super cool.

Once we went missed, we were cleared to turn direct back to TTA and we asked for the RNAV21 approach via OZOPE.  As we neared OZOPE there was quite a bit of radio traffic as a baron was trying to get into TTA as well.  Initially we were told that we would hold at OZOPE but as we got close, they cleared us all the way down.  As a courtesy to the traffic, and request by ATC, once we were 500 below the clouds we cancelled IFR to unlock the airfield and allow the baron to begin approach.

Once I hit minimums, I took off the foggles and there was the runway right in front of me. Super duper cool!  So the last new experience was slowing from 90 to 65 and dropping flaps and trying to set us down nice and soft.  I kind of blew the nice and soft part as my site picture was way wonky.  I was assured that this happens to every student as well as seasoned professionals.  I will get better.

I can’t wait for the next lesson, I felt like a real pilot…. errr  minus the radio work and a lot of setting up the navigation.  I have a lot of work ahead but I am optimistic that the journey will be awesome!

My instructor took the controls for a few minutes to allow me to memorialize the occasion.


The one about the test

Some say that the IFR written test is the hardest of the FAA tests.  I have no real idea if that is true or not since I have only taken the PPL previously.  If you are willing to put in the work it isn’t a difficult test to prepare for.  I think more than anything, the difficulty arises in how the test questions are asked more than anything.  There are many instances on the test where two answers are correct but evidently, one answer is more, err, correcter?  Other answers sometimes differ by a single word or plurality, so if you are not paying close attention you could get it wrong.

I wish that I could say it is because when you’re flying IFR you really need to focus on all of the details so that something doesn’t slip through. However, that would be giving the test preparers huge amounts of credit.  Sadly, I think the true reason is more insidious.  I believe it comes down to average test scores.  There is some sort of reverse curve at work here in which they write intentionally vague questions in the hopes of bringing the average down.

Really, there is no excuse for not doing well on one of these exams.  You have all of the study information available and practice tests to take in order to get a feel for the content.  If you read enough of the prep content, you even start to memorize the questions.  This is where rote memorization divides the masses into feverish debate.

My feelings on rote memorization are mixed.  I believe that knowing the contextual side of the content is really important for determining the best answers in the grey area.  However, by memorizing questions and answers of varying perspective, you can in a sense, understand the problem from all angles.  I mean let’s face it, most of us memorized our times tables.  In college you commit to memorizing formulas and organic structures (if you were a chem nerd like me).  PEMDAS anyone!

I think that rote memorization is fine as long as you have the curiosity to look further into questions that you struggle with.  This way you can add context to the facts.

One advantage of rote memorization is the ability to recall a specific answer to a situation in a very quick manner.  I feel that this could be advantageous in a high workload/stressful environment when in hard IFR on approach.  I mean, if someone were to dangle you off a ledge and ask you what 9 times 7, you certainly are not going to want to be counting fingers and toes.

Memorization is obviously baked into the DNA of teaching / learning to fly.  There are so many rules and regulations that there is nearly an acronym for everything.  IMSAFE, PAVE, TOMATO FLAMES FLAPS, GRABCARDD…. I literally have pages and pages of just acronyms to memorize!!!

As far as the FAA instrument test is concerned, I am hoping that the test writers feel the same way.  I hope that the most important parts, of safely navigating and completing an ifr flight, are all there in their test bank.  Of course wanting to be a good pilot I am not going to trust in this assumption.  Instead I am going to study the fuzzy stuff for more context.

So did I take the test? And, if so how did I do you ask?


I had a challenge to get a good score from my previous instructor now airline pilot! What do ya think? 🙂



A new start, bad weather equals grounded

Bad weather scuttled my hopes and dreams for flying today.  However, I took the opportunity to meet with my new instructor and go over the things I have previously accomplished in my training thus far.  He slid in some questions to test my knowledge and I think for the most part, he was impressed.  It is always hard to figure out someone’s personality in a quick sit down.  The proof will be in how we mesh in the air.  My previous instructors were very compatible for me so hopefully this one will be as well.

We are going to shoot for another lesson this coming Saturday but right now, weather is looking pretty horrible.  If this lesson falls through, I will probably not fly for another 2 weeks.  I have my final ground school class this coming Monday and then I will take the written sometime in the week after.

After finishing this post, I need to put together some materials and hide myself away until I can get this written knocked out.  If you have read previous posts, I am unusually worked up about it.  I know in the end I will be fine, but I really want a good score to justify the hard work.

Lots of studying in my future.

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