March 22nd, 2015
Total Hours: 161.9
Despite the delay with Charlie Mike, whose name comes from its N number 405CM, this last week ended up being quite busy. I had several ground lessons, a simulator flight, two knowledge exams in Honolulu, and even three flights in Charlie Mike squeezed in right at the end. Whew! Busy, but exactly what I’d been hoping for, and a sign of what’s to come as I wrap up this program.
As you may know from last week’s post I was feeling a bit nervous and anxious when I found out that there would be a weeklong delay waiting for Charlie Mike to get fixed. I have a lot of energy and I really want to be putting it into my schoolwork and charging forward to the end of my training. Like anyone who has specific goals in mind it is frustrating to have obstacles in my way. I tried my best to make that time work for me though and I have to give a lot of credit to my instructor and the school for doing their very best to make sure that I was not simply sitting and waiting. This was not the first time I felt the teamwork that exists between my instructor and myself. Throughout my training I have felt like we are in this together and that he will do whatever he can to help me succeed. That is a great feeling to have and it is one I hope I will be able to give my own students in the very near future.
I spent the early part of the week studying hard for my knowledge exams. The instrument and CFII written tests are not much different from the various other ones I’ve done and the most significant fact was that they were the final ones I’d have to take!! I studied primarily with free sources online that offer practice exams, but at the last moment I got a little nervous about having the most up to date information and decided to invest ten dollars in a study app from ASA. I was never too worried about passing my tests, it only takes a score of 70% or higher, but I had managed to score in the nineties on every test up to that point and I wanted to maintain my streak. Even though I invested in the software I didn’t have the same amount of time to prepare for these exams and in the end that proved to be more important than having an up to date question bank. More time practicing means more exposure to questions and when I sat down for my exams I was surprised at just how many I’d never seen. I don’t think this was the fault of the software though; it was simply due to my lack of “studying.” While I was a little nervous about my aspiration of scoring in the nineties I never lost confidence about passing. Imagine my pleasant surprise at seeing both scores come in over ninety!
While waiting for Charlie Mike to be fixed I also did a simulator session. I wasn’t sure how I’d do as it felt like it had been ages since my last flight, simulator or otherwise. Flying the sim still proved to be a challenge (no real surprise there!) but I was happy to see that my knowledge of the instrument procedures was hanging in there. As I’ve shared before so much of instrument flying is just following directions. If you know what the next set of directions are going to be then the flying almost takes care of itself. But when you start to fall behind things deteriorate rapidly! Because there is such a focus on reading and understanding the procedures I feel that the home study during my instrument training has been more effective for actual flight than during any other portion of my training. Understanding the various instruments and navigation tools in the cockpit also leads to better situational awareness. And of course knowing where you are is the very first step to getting somewhere else!
Finishing up the written exams and getting another simulator flight out of the way felt great, but what really made me feel good this week was getting back in the air. As my skills have increased over these last many months my enjoyment of flying has as well. These days it’s hard for me to go two weeks without flying; I miss it that much. This reminds me of my passion for climbing. In those first (five or ten) years I couldn’t imagine not going climbing any time it could be squeezed in. I can see that I am building a similar passion for flying and that comes as no surprise. Even though flying in Charlie Mike is obscured by foggles, a pair of view limiting safety glasses that simulate instrument conditions, I am still flying. And that is what I want to be doing almost more than anything else I can imagine.
Transitioning from the simulator to the real thing has been pretty smooth. I expected that it would take at least a few flights to adjust to the differences and that seems about right. On Saturday I had my fourth and fifth flights in the helicopter and it feels like everything is coming together. The simulator has been a great tool for practicing and I can see that there isn’t really anything new to learn in the helicopter, it’s simply a matter of adjusting to the new platform. I have less than 20 hours of instrument flight left and at the pace we have planned out I should be doing my checkrides in a few weeks. It’s an exciting time for me, reaching the completion of my training program and soon to be moving on to the next step. In many ways I feel like I have already succeeded making my transition to this new career. I am a helicopter pilot and very soon I will be a working pilot. Looking at these words I am in shock over just how quickly these dreams have come to pass.