If you know me, you know I said that in the voice of Rafiki from ‘The Lion King’.
I flew today in low visibility and a 12-knot wind from the North/North-West. As soon as I logged on to DUATS.com for my weather briefing and saw the strength and direction of the wind, I got a little bummed because I knew I wouldn’t fly well. Robert told me to expect my landings to be worse than usual and not to be hard on myself afterwards. We went to Monroe Exec. Airport again to practice my landings and work on recovery from ballooning, and I got in a 360-turn-for-spacing.
Last lesson at Monroe he explained what a 360-turn-for-spacing is and we practiced one with no one else in the pattern, but today it was a necessity because we were on the 45 for downwind runway 05 at the same time a piper warrior was turning crosswind runway 05, so we were going to be right on top of each other if we didn’t make a change. Robert voluntarily announced it to take a little pressure off of me while I started the right turn. Simple, just like what I learned during lesson 4- turning about a point. It takes about a minute or so to make a 360 degree turn, so that gives the other aircraft plenty of time to get further downwind and away from me.
We made the turn to final and I could really see us drifting east. I was having to work hard with the rudder pedals to keep the plane lined up on final approach, and I had to hold the left wing down into the wind to keep us from drifting further east. We got down to landing flare; so far, so good. I continued to gently pull up on the nose and saw the stall warning light come on just as we touched down. Perfect! We barely felt a bump. One after another my landings were awesome! Super smooth, like landing on a pillow. Robert was kind-of shocked as to how well I was doing despite the strongest crosswind I have flown in thus far, and I must admit I was a little shocked myself. My landings have been good lately, but until now conditions still affected my performance, so they weren’t as great during mid-day lessons with the convection (vertical wind) bumping us around. I finally feel like I understand how to counteract or correct for wind drift, and I can say with confidence I am ready to solo. I felt ready before now, but only because I knew he wont let me solo unless it is a calm, clear day. He really put the pressure on me last lesson with stall recoveries, simulated engine failures, covering up airspeed indicator during landing, messing up my approach so I had to go around, etc. Now I feel ready for anything; expect the unexpected, right?! Which tells me it’s time. Continue reading →
If someone said to you, “You run like a girl!”… would you take that as a compliment, or would you perceive that as you looked like a prissy, ditzy girl? Chances are, most people would choose the latter. When did “being a girl” become an insult?
What was supposed to be a lesson on engine failure at lift-off and smoothing out my landings turned into a lesson on dew point spread! We went out with the dew point only about 3 degrees of a difference from the temperature, and after about 5- or 6- touch-and-go landings at Monroe Exec airport (EQY), fog was just coming in from every direction. We had to cut my lesson short and high-tail it (literally) out of there to get back. We didn’t even climb to 1300 ft. above ground level on the way back to stay below the newly formed clouds. It was looking worse as we flew further North towards Wilgrove, so we had to drop down to about 500 ft. above the ground pretty quickly (-1,000 ft. per min.) to stay within VFR requirements. We didn’t even fly the pattern at Wilgrove; we flew straight in from the East and made a RIGHT turn to final (which is completely against everything we’ve learned thus far) and took it down on runway 35. Whew, it was exciting! Robert said even he was on the edge of his seat a little! I wasn’t worried for a second. I think this was a great experience and lesson for me; I got to see how quickly conditions can change on you and how rules can be broken if safety is in question. Now I finally understand the significance of checking dew point and temperature during my weather briefing, and I’ll be prepared once we go over weather in ground school next week!
Every lesson is thrilling and exciting, and better than the last! Filling up the first page of my log book felt like a milestone in itself. There were some interesting lessons in my first 12.5 hours that my book just won’t explain. I think my favorite lessons in that time were S-turns, crosswind take-off and landings and slips to landing.
Of course my first few lessons were on the very basics, such as the pre-flight inspection of the plane, starting up the plane, the run-up (which is a last-minute check of engine performance by increasing the power from 1000 RPM’s to 1800 RPM’s), taxiing (maneuvering the aircraft on the ground), straight-and-level flight, climbs and descents, and turns in straight-and-level flight as well as during climbs and descents. Robert also demonstrated a speed change from cruise to slow and raised the nose of the plane somewhat to show me how to recognize a stall. I felt the plane slow and the stall warning light came on, then we felt the plane start to lose lift as it puttered through the air, and Robert immediately lowered the nose and pushed in the throttle full open. That was a little nerve-racking the first time, but I felt comfortable and confident in Robert’s abilities. I knew he wouldn’t get us into a situation he couldn’t get us out of. Next he said we’re going to do it again, but this time it was my turn! Woo! I mimicked his actions and recovered from stall attitude. I felt so much joy and accomplishment at this point, since prior to flying, stalling the plane was my biggest fear. Knowing how to recognize and recover from one made me much more confident in my ability to fly. Continue reading →
I didn’t waste much time after Russell told me to seriously look into flying lessons. Within 12 hours, I had researched the local airports and contacted each for information. The first one to call back was Concord. I assumed they would be my choice, but I continued to research a little further. I came across the website for Wilgrove Airport, and in checking out several links, I actually decided I liked this one better. I could tell I liked Wilgrove right off, because the website wasn’t fancy. It looked like a basic site using HTML like I created in the late 90’s before Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc. existed. That told me this was probably a smaller airport with a tight-knit community of pilots and students, which is more-so what I was looking for. I figured this awesome airport would be somewhere in West Charlotte, maybe near Belmont or out towards Gastonia. I checked out the contact info and googled the address, and much to my surprise, it was only 4 miles from my house! The house we moved into less than a month prior. FOUR MILES?!..In the huge city of Charlotte. What are the odds? It must be fate! Continue reading →
For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated with flight. Birds, airplanes, kites, anything in the sky amazed me. I used to climb way up my grandparents’ huge magnolia tree and pretend I was a bird perched on a branch. I’d imagine what it would feel like to leap into the air and look down from above as birds do. Every time I’d hear a plane over head, I’d wish I was on board. Always as a passenger though; the idea of me flying the plane never even crossed my mind. You didn’t hear of girls growing up to be pilots, especially not from my small hometown of 15,000 people.
I flew for the first time commercially at age 20 on a college geology trip to the southwest desert of the US. Instantly I was hooked. From that moment on I craved that ‘rush’. It wasn’t until I was about 25 years old and I heard an interview on the radio of a man who wrote a book on the Wright Brothers, their countless attempts to fly, and the obstacles (literally and figuratively) they had to overcome to succeed. The speaker talked about how much our knowledge and ideas for human flight have improved since then, and this really got me thinking about my interest in aviation. Not to mention my grandfather was a fighter pilot in WWII which always intrigued me, even though I know very little about him except he shot down a bunch of enemy planes & received a medal. I went to high school with a guy who became a pilot, so I sent him a message over Facebook to discuss the “how to’s”. I was so inspired by his passion and enthusiasm for flying, and somewhat envious that he started when he was a teenager.
The more I researched what it takes to become a pilot, the more I realized it was actually an obtainable goal. You don’t have to join the military or grow up in a family full of aviators to become a pilot. Anyone with enough discipline and determination (and a birth certificate if you’re in the U.S.A.) can become a pilot!
In 2011, I went as far as contacting a flight instructor at the Moore County Airport in Carthage NC and set up an introductory flight. I had all the necessary Private Pilot Gleim books and materials bookmarked in my internet browser, ready for me to place an order once I took the intro flight and made my decision. But then….before my intro flight, I started sharing my newly found interest with family and friends. Right from the start I got a lot of negative reactions and condescending remarks. “Why would you want to do that?!” “What, are you crazy?!” “Women and airplanes don’t mix.” “You have a husband and a child now, you don’t need to go for something like that.” “What about your degree? You’re just going to waste all that money?” “It’s just too dangerous.” Anything you can think of, I heard it. I have low confidence to begin with, so it didn’t take much to change my mind…. Continue reading →