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Certified Flight Instructor, Commercial Pilot, Training

Shifting Gears

November 30th, 2014

Total Hours: 107.7


Wow, it’s the end of November already! I can’t believe I’ve been out here for five months already. On the one hand I feel as though I’ve been here much longer, but other times it seems as though I just arrived. And yet the time and the training flow steadily on. To think I am at about the halfway mark seems unreal. A few months ago I could hardly fathom finishing my private pilot certificate and now I am five to six weeks away from finishing the commercial and CFI.


In the last week I have really shifted gears. Once I had finished the rough draft of my lesson plans I fell into a sort of stupor. The motivation to work at the computer just wasn’t there. And most of my flying was based on cross-countries and fun time building experiences. For ground I worked on numerous white boards, but I didn’t touch my lesson plans for ages. At the moment I am wishing I didn’t take such a lengthy hiatus, but then again, I probably needed it.


Whatever the case may be it is now time to buckle down. I have a lot of work to do in the next five or six weeks. In fact this weekend I started to feel those familiar tinges of stress building in my body and brain. Some mornings I simply don’t know where to start when I’m planning out my day. It seems as if there are too many things that need attention. I know that some need priority, but being who I am I want to make time for them all, and make them all perfect too. I’ve been working very hard at revising and reworking my lesson plans and this is going quite well. It is much easier to edit than to write first drafts, but it’s still a lot of work.


Today I was reflecting on an interesting fact. Going into my private checkride I was very confident about the oral section of my checkride. The thing that made me the most nervous was performing the maneuvers correctly and within the standards. At the moment I feel like it will be the opposite for my coming checkrides. The flying has come so far in the last fifty hours and I still have nearly fifty to go. I am finally feeling it all come together in the machine. Well, as much as it can for a one hundred hour pilot anyway!! And while my lesson plans are also coming together it seems there is a wealth of other information I need to devote time to. At the moment the two aspects that are bugging me most both revolve around the FARs or Federal Aviation Regulations.


I think I’ve retained a good deal of the material I learned during my private (although it needs some brushing up too!) but there are new parts to learn for both the commercial and the CFI. The commercial FARs are mostly about the privileges of commercial pilots. Interestingly the pilot is expected to know the limitations of the regulations that the contracting company works under. I don’t know the details too well myself at this point (thus the need for studying) but I am surprised at how much we have to know about what a prospective company can do. In my mind I imagine a pilot having to tell her employer, “No, operating under Part 91 you can’t transport those passengers from point A to B.” But I don’t think the intention is that pilots tell their employers the rules, rather it is the fact that as a commercial pilot one could go and start their own business and take on whatever work they saw fit. Provided they could get their hands on a helicopter! In all seriousness it does make sense that part of our training outlines the limits of what we are allowed to do with the initial commercial certificate before being required to go further with trainings or certification.


The CFI has its own set of FARs to become familiar with. Most of these have to do with what endorsements students need on their way to becoming pilots and what kind of training a pilot needs if they are adding a new rating or category to an existing certificate. It all seems straight forward enough, until you start looking through the FARs. Once again they have to train you as if you were going to start a one-man training operation the day after you got your certificate. While I am sure I will have a good grip on what endorsements to write and what course of action to take with a foreign fixed-wing private pilot who wants to get a commercial helicopter certificate I will be happy to have some other people for support during those initial months of instructing.


It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks. I expect to be stepping up the flying to get my hours up and in addition I have plenty of work here at the computer. I think the next month or so will prove to be very demanding but I am confident I will rise to the occasion. I’ve been working hard at stress management and I’m pretty sure I’ll be happy about that in the coming mayhem! Perhaps it will all be easier than I think, but whatever the case, it will pass. Before long I’ll be on the other side of my commercial and CFI certificates with a very manageable chunk of training left. Unreal.

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About Orin Bakal-Molnar

Besides aviation my biggest passion is climbing. I love spending my free time on the side of something big! But I'm almost as happy doing anything outside in the wild. Travel, photography, and fly-fishing are a few of my other pursuits. And of course there's nothing like meeting new people and sharing good conversation.

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