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Location: Massachusetts, United States

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

When things go bump in the clouds

The past few days are a bit of a blur!
After busting my multi private, it was unclear for a while what would happen because the examiner was not immediately reinstated. I spoke with him today and it looks like that won't happen any time soon so we will schedule a new complete checkride with another examiner tomorrow (shooting for Friday if the weather cooperates, which it might not.) The idea of going through a full checkride a second time is less than appealing, but it'll be a chance to do all the maneuvers again so I do get something out of it.
In the meantime we've moved on to instrument training, which is moving along smoothly. Before coming here I'd completed most of my instrument curriculum on the 172 back home so nothing is brand new at this point. We shot a few normal approaches in the sim a few days ago to see how rusty I was. Not too much was the conclusion and so we began partial panel and single engine approaches.
The former kicked my butt big time. Our sim is quite touchy so without failing the airplane would get away from me while I covered up the artificial horizon and HSI. I'd then wrestle with it and the VSI needle took on the appearance of a relentless windshield wiper. But with practice I slowly managed to get the beast under control and do reasonably well.
Single engine approaches have not been too much trouble at this point, so my instructor threw me a partial panel, single engine approach today, which actually went pretty well. While I shouldn't expect such an approach on my checkride, I thought it was good to give it a go in the sim. Since both vaccum pumps are engine driven and one could legally launch into IMC with one inoperative, the potential for such a bad scenario does exist.
I personally would be reticent to go in the clouds without both pumps working, especially at this level of experience, but the situation is certainly not unsurmountable as I found out.
During these approaches, my instructor also failed my landing gear, flashed random annunciator lights, threw in turbulence and icing to distract me. While I wouldn't say this if it was in real life: It's a lot of fun!

In spite of the pink slip last week, I'm having a lot of fun and am thoroughly enjoying training and learning so much about flying. On an educational point of view, the experience is different than my private training because I look at this in the broader context and longer-term view of making a living from it. Everything I'm learning now I'll teach in a few months, and I want to be as good as the two instructors here.
Both are excellent at what they do, each with their own style, and are inspiring me to do the very best I can and go the extra mile to learn more than is required. It has actually assuaged one of my main fears in coming here, that the the school preps you to pass checkrides instead of teaching to fly professionally.
I'm sure the quality of instruction varies from location to location, but I have not one single complaint about these two guys. They've been excellent at teaching me systems, aerodynamics and procedures and since I was catching on reasonably well they actually had me teach a couple of students to see if I could explain all of this clearly.
Of course, my performance wasn't anywhere near theirs, but it was a great experience that led me to explore areas that I might have otherwise overlooked and made some details a lot clearer.
So it's true: the best way to learn is to teach. I'm excited to continue doing the latter and can't wait do the former.


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