March 1st, 2015
Total Hours: 156.9
Boy, really falling behind now. Missed my publishing day and I skipped a week… Oh well, I guess that was bound to happen eventually. I’m pretty happy with the run I’ve managed to maintain with this blog, almost all the way through the program! As I said in my last post it has been a bit harder to come up with posts during this final stage of my training. On top of that my girlfriend is in town for a couple of weeks and there just isn’t as much motivation to sit in front of the computer while she’s here. Surprise, right?
I am still continuing to crank away at the instrument portion though. In fact during the last week I completed nearly all the simulator flying I’ll need to do. My instructor and I decided to save one hour in case something comes up later in the training. The idea is that we could look at an approach or maneuver in the sim and take the time to pause and discuss, something that isn’t possible in the aircraft of course! While I have learned to enjoy the sim I have to say I am looking forward to transitioning to flying in the helicopter. Everyone says it’s easier and I am eager to see what my personal experience will be.
In more exciting news while my girlfriend is visiting I wanted to take her out for a helicopter ride. While I was able to take a couple friends up around the holidays this time I wanted to do something a little different. With my friends over the holidays I flew in the R44 with an instructor along for the ride. Now that I’ve completed the Robinson Safety Course and I meet the hour requirements I am allowed to take a passenger up in the R22. There are still some limitations on how far and exactly what we do, but that wasn’t important. The idea was to simply get out and do some fun flying.
I haven’t flown without and instructor since my private pilot solo flights. For the record that was only 5.5 hours of solo and it occurred back at the end of July last year. All of the rest of my flight time I’ve had an instructor sitting with me. And sitting is exactly what they’ve done for the vast majority of it. I have plenty of confidence in my ability to fly the machine, but for whatever reason there is a certain mental shift when going flying without another pilot. I suppose it comes from the realization that you are responsible for everything that happens in the aircraft. There is no one there to double check your decisions or catch an error. Those first solo flights were exhilarating for exactly those reasons. And as a student I could easily accept the responsibility for my own decisions should something go wrong. But as a pilot you are responsible for your passengers and that feels different.
In fact it felt so different that I didn’t sleep quite as soundly as I would have liked the night before our flight. Some of it was excitement about getting out flying, but at least a portion was nerves. Normally this has to do with wanting to fly well, to do the maneuvers right, but this time it was more about making good decisions and having a safe flight. I was a little surprised to have such strong feelings before the flight, but I’m actually happy to have had them. They caused me to think differently while planning the flight, during the preflight, and even during the flight itself. I’m excited about the responsibility of flying with students, and eventually with other passengers, when I move on from my training. This experience has shown me how different that can feel. Of course with repletion comes monotony and complacency. I hope that I can ward those off and hang on to this feeling of responsibility and let it steer my actions throughout my career.
For the flight itself my girlfriend and I headed north from the airport so I could show her the ridgeline where we practice our off-airport operations. We didn’t do any approaches; I just wanted her to see one of the practice areas that is the most meaningful to me. After checking out the ridgeline we headed over to the coast. Cruising south along the coast we had great views of the reefs and we were even treated with several whale sightings. One of the best was a frolicking lady making a bunch of whitewater with her splashes. Seeing whales from shore is wonderful but the perspective from above is unique. I’m always amazed at how well they can be seen even when they are below the surface. After transitioning from the north side of the airport to the south we headed down to Captain Cook Monument. All along the shoreline there were sights to see, but for me the best part of the trip was getting to share the experience with my girlfriend. It was a memorable flight for both of us and one that will remain in my memories for a long time to come.
(Click the gear icon and switch to HD for best quality…)