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I was a pilot. I owned a plane. Those were the days. You become a pilot for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is "12 O'Clock High", at least if you are my age. I gave up flying about 18 months ago and I miss it, but it was the right decision. I do, however, have some really good memories and stories to tell, and I think here lies my best audience.

Most people read pilot stories to find out about emergencies and crashes. I never crashed and only declared 3 emergencies (all worked out fine).

Two things about being a pilot stand out to me: The people you meet and the thrill of just being in control of an airplane. This diary is about the former.

When I first decided to get my license, I went to the place with the biggest sign on the airport. I was relieved of $500 and introduced to a nice-enough guy about half my age. We went flying together for about two weeks every third day. I learned almost nothing. His mind was on something else: getting an airline job.

Next, I went over to the smaller place on the field. I now had a logbook with about 8 hours in it. They took no money and introduced me to Jack. Jack had flown in Korea, I believe. He was about 70 and weighed about 135, soaking wet. He drank a lot of coffee. He smoked a lot of cigarettes. His voice was gravelly. He was generally grumpy. He was a great flying instructor.

The first day, he simply growled, "Go preflight the airplane; you know that much, don't you?" I went out to the plane, a ratty Cessna 152, and did what I thought was a pretty good pre-flight inspection. Then I stood there. 20 minutes later, Jack strolled up and started asking questions about the condition of the plane. I got about half of them right. He said, "OK, now let's learn how to do a pre-flight, 'cause I ain't setting my ass in your plane until you can do it right. This shit could kill us." 40 minutes later, I knew what was important to check on an airplane and what was nonsense. When I wiggled the fuel line, he said, "Well, you've proven it's on there tight enough, but you just shortened its life by a couple of years. Don't do that. If it's leakin' you'll SEE it. Don't try to break it!"

Halfway through our first hour in the air, Jack asked, "Which way are you going to turn to get us back to the airport, and how long will it take us?" I offered a vague answer like, "left; and about 20 minutes". He said, "Are you guessing?" I said, "Kinda." He went on to tell me that guessing is not an option in an airplane. You need to KNOW. Which means you need to remember stuff. He taught me to always check the clock or my watch before I took off and if I didn't trust my memory, to write it down. "That way", he said, "When you want to know where you are, you have a starting point: You know where you took off, you know what time it was - now you have to remember what your heading was when you left, you know what time it is now, so the opposite heading for roughly the same time will take you home. Simple, see?"

After our flight was over, Jack rescinded my solo flight privileges, which I had gotten from my first instructor. He told me to meet him back at the airport 2 days hence. We flew together in that tiny, beat up Cessna for almost 45 hours over the course of the summer. I became a pilot ("in name only", according to Jack) after my second attempt at the "Check Ride".

The Check Ride was given by the owner of the flight school, Spence, who was older, skinnier, and smoked more than Jack. If anything, he was grumpier. Now, the check ride consists of about an hour's flying and an hour's oral exam. The oral part went OK, I thought, but I made a huge mistake. The day of the ride was drizzling rain with an overcast deck of about 3,500 feet and visibility of about 6 miles. This, I knew, was technically VFR (visual flight rules) weather, so when he asked, "Given your current experience, would you fly alone on a day like this?", I answered, "Yes". Then he took me out flying. I did fine on all the maneuvers and airplane handling stuff. I even navigated to a nearby airport and demonstrated reasonably good landings in various configurations. On the way back to the airport, Spence pulled the throttle to idle at 3,000 feet and said, "You just lost your engine. There's a grass strip near here. Take us there and land on it." I stared at the chart in my lap, found the grass strip on it and then tried to figure out where I was in relation to it, all while slowing the plane to best glide speed. When I thought I knew (guessed) where to turn, I eased the old Cessna into a shallow turn to the left and started squinting out the windshield for a grass runway. Spence said, "You got it?" I said, "I think so." He said, "land the airplane." I protested that this was a private airfield and I needed permission from the owner to land. He said, "God damn it, this is an emergency, Wyckoff, land the plane!" As we glided farther down, I realized that what I had identified as a runway was a soybean field with telephone wires at the end. At about 500 feet, Spence shoved the throttle in and said, "Take me home, this ride is over."

Two days later, on a bright sunny day, I flew again with Spence. When the ride was over, he said, "I'm going to pass you on this test, but I want to know... Do you know what you did wrong on the last ride?" I said, "I couldn't find that airstrip." He said, "Partly... the main thing is that you overestimated your experience and skill and flew on a day you shouldn't have tried. That's poor judgment. Poor judgment is what kills pilots. You're not done learning. Go slow, fly on nice days. When the weather gets iffy, scale back your expectations. Be more cautious."

A year later, I went back to Jack and told him I wanted to get my Instrument License. He said, "Wyckoff, instrument flying is a thinking man's game and I'm not sure you fit the mold. I'll try if you will." I did, eventually get my instrument license.

I flew single-engine, 4-place airplanes for about 20 years. My first wife forbade it, and I went along. When I was divorced, I took up flying, just as my father and brother had. I was not a "natural" pilot, according to my instructor. But I practiced and practiced and I loved the whole endeavor. My now wife, encouraged me. After a long fall, winter and spring of struggling to master a Cessna 152, I passed my Private Pilot Check Ride with Spence at DuPage Airport in West Chicago. Spence was so famous that when he died, they named the Middle Marker for the new ILS "SPENC" after him. He failed me on my first try, so I took it again the next day and passed.

I was 40 or 41 at the time. My 3 kids had moved to Mobile, AL with their mother and I had promised them I would visit (from my Chicago suburb) every 6 weeks. I had done this for a year and a half, wearing out a Ford Taurus in the process and was determined to use my new airplane skills to shorten the trip and spend even more time with them. It would be an added benefit to "tweak" my former wife with my newfound skills.

Originally posted to wyckoff on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 02:19 PM PST.

Also republished by Kossack Air Force, Aviation & Pilots, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  silly adult ed computers for seniors class ? (3+ / 0-)

    nope. this amazing fellow was just getting his feet wet so he could write his book. and, yep, there was a Vanity Fair center spread photo of him and a bunch of his 'brothers' (a few years back, no link) who hopefully got a chance to read it.

    good read, great guy. some guys did a replica that flew into Oshkosh ? and he got to review it as a 'good job.'

    heck, clayton: YOU'RE a good job.

    Addington's perpwalk? TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes. @Hugh: There is no Article II power which says the Executive can violate the Constitution.

    by greenbird on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 02:38:46 PM PST

  •  The FAA inspector for my check ride (11+ / 0-)

    weighed about 300 pounds.  I was about 100.  This caused a slight imbalance in the Cessna 150, but it was manageable.

    Nevertheless, at rotation the right wing dipped and the plane probably drifted a bit off the runway.  The guy started screaming and cursing me for his imminent demise.  After the fact I realized that it was just a part of the test to see how I would handle some pressure and an unexpected event.  I passed the check ride, but I will never forget Sam Jennings screaming at me.

  •  Nice, wyckoff (14+ / 0-)

    Nice reminiscence. I learned more or less the same way, though way back.

    I had a check pilot punch me in the stomach on a ride. A buddy of mine called it "the last of the great check rides."

    •  Nurture or Nature (4+ / 0-)

      Did the FAA train those people to be mean, or did their sadistic tendencies simply qualify them for the job?


      •  The guy who punched me (8+ / 0-)

        did it in hour 4 of a 4.5-hour ride, with the left engine feathered, on short final, under a thundercloud microbursting. When I rejected going in for that landing he said the ride was busted right then and there if I didn't continue the approach. Then he waited until we were under the cloud and hauled off and socked me in the guy.

        He was in his 80s. IIRC, first guy to be checked out in a 747. Old enough to have flown in WWI. At the end of the ride I took about an hour tying the plane down because I didn't want to face the bust in his office. Instead he handed me my ATP.

        He set me up, too, by first giving me a CFI renewal check ride in a 150 that he ended up during the rotation on the first takeoff, just said to reject the T/O, and taxi back. Apart from taxiing, maybe a 30-second ride.

  •  Ah, DPA—almost got nailed in the pattern there, (12+ / 0-)

    …twice. I was a controller (see sig at bottom—but not at DPA) and I noticed things like that. Fortunately, I was paying attention and survived, but I knew there wasn't any point following up on it so I saved the story for times like this.

    For the five years I lived in Carol Stream, I drove by it twice every work day commuting to the center in Aurora.

    I flew out of there fairly often when I had a friend with a Cessna 182 hangared there who let me fly it when I wanted to. Mostly though, I flew out of ARR, but that's another diary.

    I also once gave an ATC familiarization talk there sponsored by the GADO on field. Probably 200 people in the audience.

    And, being a center guy and DPA being in our area for a number of years (before being taken over by ORD) I vectored to final at DPA quite a bit.

    All of my check rides (I don't count BFRs as "rides") were in the '60s and in South Florida when I started my aviation pursuit. As I recall, there may have only been one FAA designee in the school, so I had him for all three rides. For my Private, I don't remember much—just that I passed.

    When I completed the Commercial syllabus about a year later, I wasn't all that thrilled with the idea of the check ride, so started on the Instrument program. That only took about a month or so, and when I got a recommend I went to schedule the ride for it. They wouldn't let me take the Instrument ride because I didn't have a Commercial license (required for the number of hours I had). So I went ahead and scheduled the Commercial ride for the next day.

    So we went out to the practice area and did the usual stuff—stalls, slo-flight, chandelles, lazy 8s, turns on pylons, slightly more than basic hood work with unusual attitudes (and as a recommended Instrument candidate, was very impressive in that), and so on. We headed back to the field and shot a couple of landings, in which the examiner gave me a couple of tips that have served me well for 45 years.

    I scheduled the Instrument ride for the next day, and guess who shows up to check me? Same guy, of course. We spend no more than about ten minutes under the hood doing maneuvers (he'd had a full display the day before) then went up to FLL to shoot an NDB and then the ILS (actually Localizer—they didn't have glide slope in those days).

    I busted minimums by about 50 feet (but caught it), he declared "missed approach", I flew toward the holding fix in the procedure, and hearing no word from him, cranked in a right turn into the pattern when I hit it. That was all he needed to see, apparently, as he said, "lets head back."

    I turned toward OPF, crestfallen, figuring I'd blown the ride, and in a moment or so, he said "I got it," took the controls and said, "how about letting me fly a bit. Doing all these checkrides doesn't give me much time for it any more."

    I breathed a little easier, but still wasn't sure, but back in the office he put some wet ink in my log book and in a week or so, my new credential arrived with "Instrument" under the qualifications.

    I haven't flown for about 15 years, but it's been circumstance, rather than a  forced decision. I'm toying with the idea of getting my medical again and seeing about a BFR, but aviation's changed a lot and I don't know how well these old bones and synapses will be able to adapt.

    LRod—UID 238035
    ZJX, ORD, ZAU retired
    My ATC site
    My Norm's Tools site

    by exatc on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 04:40:34 PM PST

    •  My decision to quit flying (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      craiger, Dr Arcadia, Ice Blue

      was based on several factors. My blood pressure medication was making getting a Medical an ordeal (and expensive), the tanking of the economy lowered my income to the point where I couldn't afford to fly except a few times a year, and the rising cost of avgas exacerbated the problem. Even though I had over 1,500 hours logged when I quit, I did not feel that I was current enough or even competent to safely fly. I also turned 62 and creaky bones made moving the airplane around on the ground a chore and I no longer found pre-flighting an airplane in the freezing cold or broiling heat an adventure (like I used to) but, rather, an ordeal. Until 4 or 5 years ago, I routinely flew my Piper Warrior back and forth to our condo in Gulf Shores, AL from home, here near Chicago. I could beat the airlines door to door and if I took 2 passengers I could match the per-seat costs. When avgas spiked and I found myself going alone, the cost differential was way too much to justify. From then on, I started doing the trip in my car. Sure, it takes 15 hours but it's the cheapest way to get there and I hate flying the airlines (unless someone gives me a first class ticket).

      Republicans want smaller gov't for the same reason crooks want fewer cops. - James Carville Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue

      by wyckoff on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 01:36:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Living the dream (6+ / 0-)

    Had my license back in the mid '70's.  2nd gas crises and marriage made it way too expensive...  

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 04:52:02 PM PST

  •  Loved it (7+ / 0-)

    Not a pilot, but I love these stories, hangar flying and everything flying except flying.

    Thanks.  Will share this and look forward to more.

  •  "There I Was ..." (6+ / 0-)

    Love hangar flying diaries.

    "A famous person once said, 'You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.' But as I once said, "If you don't teach them to read, you can fool them whenever you like." – Max Headroom

    by midnight lurker on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:24:53 PM PST

  •  Snow storm before check ride (21+ / 0-)

    I took my check ride with 46 hrs in a Cessna 152 on a late November day in Michigan after a significant snowfall. Everything went fine, but things sure looked different in the local area after the first snow of the season.

    The memorable part was when we taxied back to the FBO and the examiner told me I could shut the plane down.  I pulled the mixture to idle cutoff, waited for the engine to stop, turned off the ignition, turned off the master switch, and inserted the gust lock.  He asked me if I shut the plane down properly, and I said, "yes," showing him the checklist.  He said, "but you didn't use the check list, did you?"  He then stabbed me in the heart by saying, "two kinds of people use checklists, beginners and professionals."

    Maybe you need to be a pilot, but that comment still hurts today, I have never not used a checklist for the most mundane of tasks since then.  While I only have a single engine land certificate, I consider myself a professional and conduct myself accordingly.

    The plural of anecdote is NOT data

    by Dr Arcadia on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:43:51 PM PST

    •  On some advanced check ride (7+ / 0-)

      I don't remember which one, my check pilot told me to put the checklist away. Said (now, of course this is in some simple airplane) that a professional didn't need one.

      Laster I learned the best checklist of all, applicable to any aircraft, and the one I used for 25 years:

      Can - controls

      I - instruments (and gauges, anything shiny staring back at you)

      Go - gear (including tailwheel lock and brakes)

      Flying - fuel (mixture, boost pumps, valves, whole system)

      Today - trim

      Peter - prop

      Rabbit - runup

      The best pilot I ever knew - a guy who flew a Super Connie at 19 and had two engine on fire at 19, the youngest ATP ever certified in the US (at 19, not allowed to exercise privileges until 23), taught it to me. He said it was an FAA checklist.

      I just found this interesting article on the subject while googling that checklist. I agree with that writer.

      •  All the same, (7+ / 0-)

        the introduction of checklists to hospital surgical procedures is now preventing many mishaps. Human patient versus machine difference, perhaps...

        Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

        by Simplify on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 08:29:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not the same thing at all. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Otteray Scribe, RiveroftheWest

          Hospital machinery isn't something you strap on, that you learn to pilot because you love it, because you dream of it. It might be difficult to enunciate the reasons why, but it's not the same. Not better, mind you, just not the same.

          Also, the machinery you mention is probably a lot more complicated. The CIGFTPR checklist above covers literally all aircraft. They're not really that complicated. No one gets good at it without understanding the components of that checklist.

          Beginning pilots should definitely use them. But I believe that the check pilot who told me to can it was right on. What he means was that if you don't have this machine straight enough, and how to fly it straight enough, that you can't do it without a checklist, you might have no business in it at this point.

          And I don't recall that in the decades of flying I've done, that I've ever once flown with a formidable pilot who used a checklist in anything less than a jet. Including unusual and complicated turboprops like the AVRO 748. I've just never seen it, and I've been in many oddballs.

          Never once, now that I look back on it. I appreciate you point, but I don't really buy the comparison - and though I know that I am making my point poorly.

      •  Tell this to Cecelia Cichan re flight 255 (5+ / 0-)

        "The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the flight crew's failure to use the taxi checklist to ensure the flaps and slats were extended for takeoff."

        Some of the details are here

        As Simplify says above, ALL professionals use checklists.

        The plural of anecdote is NOT data

        by Dr Arcadia on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 09:02:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's funny, some students in a robotics class (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          had a 10-step "mantra" for troubleshooting their creations, and the first four steps were to check that it was plugged in, turned on, wired to ground, and wired to positive. Amazing how many times one of those was the problem!

          To be fair, they had that part of the "mantra" memorized. I'd wager that whether the checklist is on paper or in one's memory is secondary to whether it's useful.

          Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

          by Simplify on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:10:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I excluded jets in the original comment (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Otteray Scribe

          And though I'm sure you're a professional of one sort or another, I doubt that it's in aviation. You're just wrong. A pro using a checklist to fire up a Cherokee or a Bonanza would be absurd.

          Your capitalizing ALL doesn't make it true. I've spent decades in cockpits with professionals, and have never once seen a professional use a checklist in a plane he knows. Never once.

          Make of it what you will.

      •  the one I learnt for my Honda 400 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Otteray Scribe, Ice Blue

        wasn't a lot different than that. Kickstarting that beast in the cold may have been why my hip hurts now ...

        LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 10:11:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  My chief instructor insisted his students (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gottlieb, RiveroftheWest

        always follow the checklists. That said, I was once in the middle of my runup (I flew from such a tiny airport that everyone normally did that on the ramp) when I saw a yellow jacket dancing against the glare shield. I have a ridiculous phobia of those things. After I saw that thing I did a perfect shutdown in about a second and a half. I swear, I was shrieking and hopping around on the ramp before the prop quit turning.

        The guy who gave me my private pilot checkride said to shut a little Cessna down work your way right to left, only he said to count one thru seven. I suppose that's what I did.

        Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.--Sam Rayburn

        by Ice Blue on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 05:30:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well done. Quite an accomplisment for one who (10+ / 0-)

    "Was not a natural born pilot."  I am not sure I was, either, but it looks like I need to get off my butt and share a few stories,  then you can decide.

    "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." --Townes Van Zandt

    by Bisbonian on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:50:48 PM PST

  •  Thank You - N/T (3+ / 0-)

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 09:02:16 PM PST

  •  Thanks for this. (6+ / 0-)

    Great story, and rings true. A lot of the hassle you get from an instructor is part of the training.  I learned early on to ignore distractions. One of my first instructors wanted to do some spin training. BTW, eliminating spin training in primary fight instruction is a MAJOR mistake on the part of the FAA. This guy had been a Navy flight instructor, and he did it the Navy way, circa 1943. We were in a Piper PA 11, but the PIC flies from the front seat. The PA-11 is identical to the J-3, except the gas tank is in the wings instead of between the instrument panel and engine. That weight shift means you can't fly solo from the back seat. Anyway, I was in the front seat and we were going to do some fully developed stalls and spins. Every time I went over the top and the plane flipped inverted, he would pound my shoulders and back of my head with his fists, screaming, "YOU ARE GONNA KILL US BOTH!!!"  

    On several occasions, he pulled the throttle back and held the knob with both hands so when I tried to add power, the throttle lever might as well have been Super Glued closed.  He would wait until the last instant to give me power back. On more than one occasion, we came back with alfalfa hung in the brakes on the landing gear.

    Much later, I was with another instructor. As I recall it was a biennial flight test. By that time, I already had my glider rating, so a dead stick landing was no big deal. On a checkride, I managed to scare him a bit when I wouldn't let him add power, and went ahead and landed. He said I did something he had never seen before. I milked the flaps up and down a bit, constantly, using them like dive brakes to control my angle of glide preciously.

    My most satisfying moment during a checkride was when the FAA guy told me he wanted to see a steep 360 degree turn. Asked him which direction and he said he didn't care, left or right, my choice. Told him I preferred to do my steep turns at 60 degrees.  I rolled into a 60 degree bank to the left and watched the horizon roll around. I had started with the compass on due North, and managed to stop the turn and level the wings exactly on due North. We were at 4,000 feet and he reached over and tapped the glass on the altimeter. It had not budged off 4,000 through the entire turn. Said he was tapping it because he thought the needle was stuck. Needless to say, I had burned a lot of gas practicing turns the week before the test.

    Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength. - Eric Hoffer

    by Otteray Scribe on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 09:48:44 PM PST

    •  After my rocky start in flying (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Otteray Scribe, foresterbob, Ice Blue

      I practiced all the maneuvers on every flight for years. I got so I impressed my instructor during BFRs. I also got so I could land my Warrior so softly that passengers would comment that they'd never had such a smooth landing. I went on to become a competent instrument pilot who actually used the ticket and flew "in the soup" a fair amount. I never found instrument flying fun, though and always went VFR unless conditions prohibited it. I always preferred to be at 2,500 feet and seeing where I was going to being at 4,000 feet looking at 6 gauges, particularly since the Warrior did not have an autopilot...

      Republicans want smaller gov't for the same reason crooks want fewer cops. - James Carville Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue

      by wyckoff on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 01:42:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hear, hear! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eliminating spin training in primary fight instruction is a MAJOR mistake on the part of the FAA.
      It was hard to believe it when they did it. And the reasoning you heard was as idiotic as the decision to end the requirement. Couldn't be more with you. Fact is, though there's less general aviation, the ratio of stall-spin always stays the same.

      Fun check ride story. I can practically feel you putting in the back pressure while you crank it in…

      Where was that, OS? Are you still flying?

  •  Well, I was a Vietnam AF pilot, sort of (9+ / 0-)

    I was drafted into the army 1967, so I quickly applied to the AF, passed the Officer and Pilot  test and was given a pilot slot for fighter pilot (1968). Was not gonna carry a rifle in the rice paddies with a degree in Physics and Math. Then I had to fight off the Selective service system and had to enlist in the AF first, then go thru boot camp, then casual then go to Officer's School (meaning Boot camp again!) to get to pilot school at Laughlin AFB, Far West Texas. Actually it was  Cuidad Acuna East, right on the Mexican border

    I could make this a novel, but to keep things short in the context of this post, while I flew turbojets a little eventually, most significant was the early T-41 (Cessna-172-182)  training. We did T-41 to assess if we could really fly without puking and follow basic instructions, stuff like that.

    So I had an instructor that was a real prick (this was a civilian contract organization) and he was of the "intimidation" school of flight instruction - beat the student with a rolled-up newspaper as if he were a puppy to shame him... Didn't work with me, I thought he was a clueless boor. So I got a pink slip for a checkride with the manager of the school...  

    He was Force Treadway as best I can recall, probably about 75 at that time, been a pilot for most all of all his life (like, since planes were invented!) , legendary in West Texas. We went out, preflighted the plane, took off, and he asked for some simple maneuvers - steep turns to assess coordination, chandelles, slow flight...... After a few moments he said "Lieutenant, you're OK, take us back..." and I went on to the T-37 jet program.

    And I would go back to the Officer's Club at the end of the day, and always some one would say " I can't believe they pay us for this!!!" Because pilots just want to fly. It's magical.... It's like flying aerobatic... you are just free in three dimensions....

    Point is, you can get poor instructors (I'm a CFI - Certified Flight Instructor) and you can get good instructors or bad ones. There is flying, and there is instructing.

    You have to be a pilot + a teacher to instruct.
    If you don't like your instructor, get a new one. You're the customer. Just be sure it's them and not you. If you have two difficult instructors in a row then it's probably you. Flying requires a real discipline. You only have enough fuel for a few hours. After that, you come back to earth, like it or not. Coming back to earth is the test. And failing the test is fatal.

    My most proud moment was a check ride, with agruably the most critical inspector in the local system. A Twin Engine (Piper PA_23-250 D Aztec) check ride and with  instrument qualifications

    An IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) approach to a local airport, under the hood (blind) to minimums (minimum altitude that you can continue) , using an NDB approach (Non-Directuional Beacon) and he killed my inboard engine halfway thru the turn.... But that's what he's supposed to do, create a serious situation.... but he'd better be prepared to take control and fly out of it if I panicked... but 0f course he could see and I couldn't....

    And of course I didn't  panic and he was happy and I got my license.... and tinker bell kissed me....

    And any airline pilot would say "yawn, I did that years ago". And he/she's right. But it shows the ladder of skills that's necessary to make the current transportation systems work. and it's a slow progression if highly skilled people who have your life in their hands start taking their responsibilities for granted, or are not respected for their skills.

    So your airline pilots have been thru all of this just like me, thay have come up thru those ranks, and are expert in their particular airplanes. And each airplane is different, when they get heavy. Stay with the pros. they make it  look easy.

    So, many stories about flying, instructing and "there I was" for a later day

    Without geometry, life is pointless. And blues harmonica players suck.

    by blindcynic on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 10:31:49 PM PST

  •  Thanks to all of you (5+ / 0-)

    and I apologize for having all the text above the "thingy". I started this a few weeks ago and when I went to finish it, I just started typing in the wrong box, hence the out-of-order last two paragraphs.

    Republicans want smaller gov't for the same reason crooks want fewer cops. - James Carville Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue

    by wyckoff on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 06:30:49 AM PST

  •  Learning to Fly (7+ / 0-)

    I learned to fly in the late '70s on a Grumman two-seater.  My flight instructor was half again as heavy as I was so when he got out and cleared me to solo, the plane seemed to leap off the runway.  Anybody who has ever soloed knows that the feeling of being alone in your plane combines Wow! with Uh-oh! in shifting proportions until the plane is back on the ground and then it's all Wow!  I had a similar experience with my first check-ride.  It was not raining where we were, but the sky had a lot of dark clouds.  I wanted to go anyway, but it was clear from my examiner's careful phrasing of the question about whether I wanted to proceed with the check ride that he didn't think it was a good idea.  I took the cue and said no, not today.  He approved, of course, and said, it's better to be on the ground and wish you were in the air than to be in the air and wish you were on the ground.  It's good advice for every venture you undertake.

  •  Awesome, thanks! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Otteray Scribe

    I've had a burning desire to fly all my life but never the right amount of disposable income to do it right.

    One of these days..

    Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

    by SFOrange on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 01:34:09 PM PST

  •  Flight lessons (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gilas girl, Otteray Scribe

    I too was a natural non-flyer and it took many le$$ons to get my tickets - SEL + IFR. I knew this and any lesson that did NOT end with me soaking wet and full of questions was money wasted. Changed out a few CFIs because of that. If they can't make me a better pilot after the lesson is over, who needs them - just a pleasure flight on my nickel(s).

  •  On my first solo cross country when I was 16 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foresterbob, Otteray Scribe, Gottlieb

    I got caught in the rain. (We were under a Tornado Watch by the time I got home. My county actually had a twister before sunset, oy.) Fortunately I was familiar with the area so I made it home alright. My one teensy-tiny problem came when I radioed in and my voice cracked. Oh, well. It could have been worse.

    Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.--Sam Rayburn

    by Ice Blue on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 04:26:26 PM PST

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