One Day Left

I flew yesterday at 10am. Eventually Adam and I will get around to describing our primary instructor, Bob Delleo. He’s a fairly strict guy and has exacting standards. That’s been, at times, very frustrating (and demoralizing) when taking a lesson, but from my reading it sounds like it makes for a better pilot. Your first instructor’s voice is in your head for a long time, so it should be a really helpful voice. Bob’s is.

So tomorrow I am meant to fly up to Paso Robles (about a ninety minute flight for one hundred sixty-two nautical miles) for my check ride. The same FAA examiner that rode with Adam will ride with me and determine if I can be certificated as a pilot. (Pilot’s are not licensed, they are certificated. Huh.)

I am so nervous I can’t eat. Even yesterday.

The last time I flew with Bob and I was so distracted I screwed up pretty much every maneuver. It was embarrassing. My landings were terrible. He didn’t think it would be a good idea to sign me off to schedule the check ride, he thought he should do some more work with me. I flew the next day and I was fine. I did every landing okay and did the maneuvers. The truth is that I shouldn’t fly if I am nervous or stressed. No one should. There are times that I have gone out to do a little landing work, gotten up, done a landing, decided that my head wasn’t in the plane enough, and taxied back and shut down. That’s the responsible way to fly.

Yesterday I climbed into the plane with Bob. I hadn’t flown in a week. Some of the things felt unfamiliar, like the seat position. Well, the slide catch was broken, but I figured it out. The wheel was chocked, which it isn’t normally. Little things to throw me off. But I started to go through my check list and the comfort of the routine brought me back to the plane. I listened to the Automated Terminal Information System (ATIS) and wrote down the weather and stuff I needed. I adjusted my altimeter and called the ground controller to taxi. Now I was in the plane.

We did two landings (a soft field and then a short field) with similar take-offs, and then we flew up to Point Dume and did maneuvers. We flew home over a layer of clouds. It was some of the most dramatic flying I have done. We skimmed in under a high broken layer at eight thousand five hundred feet and a lower layer near twelve hundred feet that was sliding in from the ocean. We dropped over the edge of the lower level, high over the airport, and slipped down into the traffic pattern. It was great. It was everything I wanted flying to be.

I did a soft field landing and Bob helped a little on the throttle at the last moment, which demonstrated how just a little power could really soften that last moment. He said I had flown well and that if I can fly that well for the check ride that I’ll pass without a problem.

Back this morning for some more review of the oral portion of the exam. I know the things about aviation that I need to know, as long as I don’t freeze and blank.

About Colin Summers

I am an architect, programmer, private pilot, husband and father. A couple of those I am good at.
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