DCA Diary


Well-Known Member
For those who are interested I will try to post my daily accounts at DCA. I saw that others on seperate academy threads were doing an account of there training, so I said what the hell, I'll do one for DCA. I will post as much as possible on a daily basis if time allows. Okay here goes it.

Day#1: Got up at 0630 to go get checked out on a C-172SP at Avion Academy (convieniently located next door to DCA!) That way I got some hightech gadgetry to enjoy for leisure flying, when and if I get free time. It also gave me a chance to familiarize myself with the airfield and local area. We went up for about 1.2 hours. Did some stalls, slow flight, steep turns and came back to the field for two landings. All in all, it got my head back in the game after not flying for several weeks. Went home for some lunch and headed to DCA for the 1:45 kickoff.
I think there are 20+ individuals in our group, but of course everyone will break down into their perspective groups after tomorrow. It was the usual marketing schpeel and propaganda. They did have an current CRJ-700 FO, who is an academy grad, come in and tell his story and answer any questions we had, which was really cool to get someone who had done the whole thing and gone on to Comair. Then at 3:00 we had a break for icecream. After we wrapped up the icecream break it was time to get down to business and do the paperwork, get i.d.'s, get fingerprinted, and get fitted for our uniforms. I gor out of there around 5:30. Tomorrow will be an earlier day starting off around 8:45.
Day#2: Day two started a little ealier than the previous day. The group mustered around 8:45. Had a couple of speakers, with the last speaker being Pat Murphy, DCA Director of Training. I was very impressed with his presentation and asked a couple of questions. We had a pizza lunch break and a more indepth tour of the school with some instructors. To cap off the day we went through highlighted rules and regs of the school. It was a very long day and I'm pretty spent from all the sitting and absorbtion of information. I got my last free weekend left for at least awhile so, I have to go get as much errands done as possible, while I got time. Monday will be my first day of VFP, which will only consist of a ground school class. I think my first flight will be on Tuesday. I'm still waiting to hear from my instructor, who knows who I am, but I have no clue as to who he is. We'll see!

Thanks for posting your experiences at DCA. I have been reading peoples daily experience on the FSA fourm but have been waiting to hear about DCA. Please keep posting, as I will be reading! I am very interested in DCA, so all the info I can get would be great. Thanks again.

I will try to post daily if time allows, but if not, I'll post a summary on the weekends. We even have one guy who is already a CFI in our group. There are several who are going for there CFI. Most are newbies and are going for their PPSEL. There are a handful of us with ratings already in hand. This class was one of the biggest for the month of December, ever. Everyone who is starting off with ratings has to go through the VFP course and those with INST ratings and above have to take IFP also. I start ground school on Monday which will be from 5:30 to 8:30 P.M. and I should start flying on Tuesday.
Okay, I'm going to summ up the first two days of training. I was too busy yesterday evening to post.
Day#3 12/15/03: Yesterday, had most of the day off. Went in at 1600 to meet with my instructor before ground school, which is from 1730 to 2030. Went over the VFP syllabus answered questions and went over my logbook. Groundschool was interesting. We went over some acronyms, talked about medicals and things you needed to fly. Just basic review on Private Pilot subjects. Had some homework to do, getting into the FAR's for Medicals and MEL's ( Minimum Eqipment Lists). Checked the schedule and was scheduled for two flights the next day.

Day#4 12/16/03: Got to sleep in a little. Didn't have to be intill 1000, to brief for an 1100 flight. Learned how to do Weight/Balance the DCA way, on their little computation sheets. On the other side you have to write down the ATIS, V speeds, along with landing and takeoff distances. I really need the whole hour for the briefing! Hopefully it will get easier as time progresses. Learned how to check out the aircraft view the appropriate inspection paperwork. Went out to pre-flight, and we got I think, one of the oldest 172's in the DCA fleet. It looked pretty beat up. Did the preflight, hopped in, started it up and off we went. Had to get used to carb heat really quick, I'm used to the newr 172R's and 172SP's that are fuel injected. We did some steep turns, some slow flight, and some standard rate turns. We came back to the field for some touch and go's which were all cross wind take offs and landings, which is the daily norm here in Sanford. Did the shut down and headed to dispatch to get the "can" for the next aircraft for our next flight. I had enough time to go in do the post flight debrief, paperwork, and do the preflight paperwork for the next event.
Next flight we got a newer 172, flew a lot better also. Did some stalls, steep turns, an emergency decent, and a simulated engine out landing. The weather chased us back to the airfield.
All and all my instructor was very pleased with all manuevers and landings. I had two hours till groundschool, so I went home to grab a quick bite to eat and then headed back. Ground school for this evening was Minimum Equip List, a test(which doesn't count) to see what we know, we drew out the practice areas on out terminal maps, and we started airspace.
Today was a very busy day. Tomorrow will be just as busy, but, I get some decent time between the last flight and ground school. I need some decent study time anyways. I have a 0700 flight and an 1100 flight, plus ground school at 1730. With the wether being as it is, the first flight might be cancelled. We'll see.
It has been a very busy week here, so my alotted computer time by the wife is for flying MSFS.

Day#5 12/16/03: As I perdicted, I arrived at 0630 to brief, but the ceilings were 500 and the wind was a stiff crosswind @21KTS/G33, so we cancelled. A problem arose with the school as to some inconsistancies in my logbook. My long DFVR cross counrty flight was not long enough, On my end of course stage check with the chief pilot(self examining authority) he forgot to endorse my logbook, and they weren't sure that I had graduated Part 141 vs Part 61. They asked me if I had an end of course completion certificate. I told them no. So now I'm dealing with this can of worms added on to the course load. If I did graduate 141 the x-cnty flight is long enough. If not, DCA is going to make me do it over.
I got to go home since my flight was cancelled and had to return for an 1100 flight, which might have to be cancelled also. Came back at 1030, weather was still out of limits, so we tried to cancel. No chance, we had to move the flight to 1400. I got to go back home to grab some lunch. Came back at 1330, weather was better, so off we went. We did some ground ref maneuvers, emergency decent and emergency approach and landing. We kept it short and headed back.
Ground school was at 1730, we studied airspace and weather. Our instructor was 4.5 hours shy of having the required hours to get his interview with Comair.

Day#6 12/17/03: Still dealing with the logbook fiasco. I called my last school and verified that I indeed graduated Part 141. That was great news to hear, since I really didn't want to do my long x-cnty again. Now I'm just waiting for a copy of my certificate, so I can give a copy to DCA. I'm still working on the endorsement issue though. Due to the fiasco, I was bumped down to one flight a day. So I only flew once and had the last day of ground school which consisted of aircraft systems.

Day#7 12/18/03: Had one flight. Did some short and softs up in Leesburg. Did another emergency approach and landing. I'm getting better at the checklist thing and getting the procedures down for the maneuvers.

Day#8 12/19/03: Had one flight again. Went up and did ground reference manuevers, steep turns, and an emergency descent.

Day#9 12/20/03: Last flight prior to the end of stage checkride. We planned a short cross country from Sanford to Ocala. We went up and started our cross counrty and he diverted me to another airfield. My "whiz wheel" skill were really rusty, but I got us the right coputations. We ended up where we we were diverted to and on time. My instructor then had me start lost procedures. Once we found where we were, he then had me do some VOR work.

Day#10 12/21/03: Had the day off to study and prepare for the stage check oral and flight.

Day#11 12/22/03: Today is the big day. I've gpt some time before my oral to over everything with my instructor. He said that I shouldn't have any problems. The oral started at 1300 and lasted about the full two hours. Had a little bit of problem on how to compute pressure altitude and density attitude on paper using equations. other than that i did really well. The flight sucked. the wind was blowing me off on all my maneuvers and to make thins worse the check instructor took the controls to set me up on most of the maneuvers and that broke my focus. All in all I passed with some things to work on. I've got a course break till next Monday. So I have six days off to relax, because next Monday the real fun begins with the Instrument course.
Just wait till day 385 and you have to post "I didn't get hired because we have too many instructors" working for the school. $100K down the drain. Get out while you can and go to a school that cares about it's students. I wish I had.
Rather wait until day 385 and you pass your cfii and get on that wait list for standz. One of the best days you will have.
Well Had a nice end of course break of six days to let my brain cool off, do some relaxing and enjoy Christmas with my wife. I did manage to crack open the books several times. On Christmas a few friends from school,my wife and myself rented three C-172SP's and headed to St Petersburg/Clear water. It was nice to have decent aircraft, GPS, and some extra BHP. Not too crowded that day! Got to use the whole taxiway and Sanford tower used Ground freq, as both. Got flight following and Orlando Approach gave us clearance through Bravo and handed us off to Tampa Approach. Once in Tampa, got cleared to descend down to 2,100 and flew strait down Rwy 27 centerline. Greased it in St Petersburg, refueled and headed back. What a betterway to spend Christmas, with the person you love doing what you love to do.
DCA IRC Course.
Day#1 12/29/03: What a betterway to start of my Birthday than getting up at 0545 to go to my first day of ground school. Today we started off with A/C Limitations and Systems for the C-172. More for those who did their PVT in the 152 or those note familiar with the 172. It's just a refresher for us who a 172 pilots. Had one of the course leaders come in and tell us who are instructors are going to be. Those of us who went through VFP got to keep our instructors from VFP. We had the course outline explained yo us. Not looking forward to the 15 Backseats required. Thank god half are loggable backseating sim rides! Have to view the entire King Video library for the instument rating. No problem, lots of useful information, but the King's put me to sleep!, so staying awake will definitly be a challenge. Tomorrow we are going to start getting into aircraft instruments, yay
Sorry that I haven't posted for a while. Been quite busy lately. Well to be brief I'll just summarize the past two weeks. Ground School was Monday thru Friday, 0700-1000. The instructor was a really great great guy as well as a teacher. I did two PCATD lessons, four Sim lessons, and two flights. Yesterday I was supposed to lesson 7 which is with a group leader, to see if you have BAI down or need some review before you move on to intercepting and tracking. I was late getting to the school and tried to get my takeoff data card completed. Got the "can" and headed to the airplane. Started the pre-flight and the group leader did his walkaround He notice that one of the break pads on the starboard side looked cracked and fetched a maintenace guy to check it out. The maintenance put us into an hour of our two hour block so we cancelled. I was put on hold. They couldn't find anyone today to do it so I had the day off. Just checked the scudule for tomorrow and I'm not on it again, so it looks like I have another day off. I just want to get it over with so I can move on. I have two more weeks of ground school, luckily it is moving to the afternoon from 1400-1700. A long with the time change come an instructor change for grouns school. I've got the FAA written coming up in several weeks also.
Monday I was finally able to take my lesson seven flight with a group leader. My instructor had to stay behind, due to the circraft having long range tanks and he would have put us over max gross t/o weight. Flight was fun, had a little problem on the steep turns, usually their my best maneuver
. Came back to Sanford after and hour and forty five minutes of partial panel/full panel basic attitude instrument flying. Greased the landing, which impressed the group leader. He was going to give me an incoplete for the steep turns, but the landing changed his mind. I guess that on the stage one check ride, people are having problems with their landings. Most are coming from the private pilot course which utilizes the c-152s. Now I get to move on to tracking and intercepting VORs, NDBs, and localizers. I have a PCATD and Sim tomorrow, to get the basics down before strapping in and trying them in the airplane.
I enjoy telleing about my experiences here, whether they be good or bad. I just want to put it out there for people who are considering whether to go to an academy or to an FBO. Maybe they'll like what they read and they'll want to check it out. The big point I want to get across to you all out there is to weigh all your options. Don't go for the marketing hook just because it sounds good. It took me several years to make up my mind. I chose DCA just because I wanted to immerse myself into a training environment that involves a lot of time. I tried the FBO route and it just didn't work for me. I think I made a good decision and I'm having fun, even though it gets tough sometimes.
Well the past two days have been doing DME Arc's, VOR tracking and tracking localizers in the Sim. I got them down cold. This afternoon I get to go try it in the airplane, partial panel. Hopefully I won't have to much problem with it.
Keep Truckin Bud....Im proof in the puddin' that you can do it...im waiting for standz right now...took me little less than one year to finish from zero time...i'd do it all over again if i had to.
Mondays flight went well. The weather was crap so we almost had to cancel the flight. The ceilings were 100 and vis was a mile. Just as we were puttimg in the paperwork to cancel the ceilings went up to 300. My instructor said that we would file IFR and go do a hold at the MAMBO Intersection for awhile and then shoot an ILS on our return. He did the radios and I did the flying. We were pretty much in solid IMC till we got to enter the hold then it was clear of clouds at our altitude. Took me four circuits to get a good holding pattern, we had a kickin tail wind on the downwind. On the fifth circuit we got clearance to exit the hold and shoot the ILS for RWY 27R into Sanford. IMC all the way back until we popped out at 500 FT and had the runway insight. Did an awesome ILS approach. Had to crab a little to get the needle to stay put. Had to incomplete the NDB intercepting an tracking, as well as all the manuvers. I have to finish the lesson on Thursday, so I can go on to lesson 14, which is the Stage I checkflight. Yesterday they had a Diamond Katana out on the flight line to check out. Word around the campus is that DCA is going to buy them for the new campus in Denver. There are not suppossed to be one single cessna there. As far as what else they're going to have there is still a mystery.
Well I have to run. I have a "Mandatory" meeting that every single Instrument student is suppossed to attend. Probably going to be a snore fest for an hour!
Well I have to run. I have a "Mandatory" meeting that every single Instrument student is suppossed to attend. Probably going to be a snore fest for an hour!

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Take every meeting seriously. No time to snooze during meetings.
[Word around the campus is that DCA is going to buy them for the new campus in Denver.

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So its for sure now?
"Rumor" has it that it should be up and running by the end of August. But that is just "rumor" from reliable sources that wear the white and black uniforms!
By august eh? I havent heard that yet but that makes me a little nervous, looks like it may be around that time ill be in standz, assumming i get hired. I dont mind moving but man i sure wanna stay here!