Notable training experiences


New Member
After yesterday's great flight in actual, I started thinking about the course of my training and how my experiences would have influenced my decisions and actions as I was contemplating training last spring. I poured over every thread that I could find on this excellent website, as well as exhausting every other possible resource that I could get my hands on. Now that I'm well into my initial training, I'd like to make my experiences available for future students who are where I was 4 months ago. Anyone else who wants to chip in with their experiences would be appreciated as well!

Because I posted this in the General Topics forum, I think it's important that it not turn into an arguement about flight school A vs. flight school B. I'd vote for keeping the focus on our experiences, good and bad.

So, here are my thoughts . . .

My goal was to fly full-time while spending about what I was going to spend while finishing grad school. I was after ratings through CFI, CFI-I, and MEI and wanted to get them in less than a year. So far, I'm right on track (should actually be done in a total of 8 months or so) and loving every minute. I'll certainly admit that because I often fly twice per day it can be a lot of work to keep up with the ground school and book work, but I'm the kind of person that likes to dive in to things 100%.

The actual flying is really not that hard but the details can be a bit overwhelming. Especially now that I'm flying the twins during instrument training, the biggest challenge is learning to manage all of the tasks, chores, navigation, and communications while still flying the plane. Even so, I'd say that the hardest stage that I've encountered so far was the initial SEL Private training. The information that I had to learn (and understand!) was by far more daunting in terms of quantity and novelty. At least in the other stages (multi, commercial, and instrument so far) I was building on what I had learned in the Private stage. That was much easier than jumping into it with no previous base.

I have always loved action oriented, kinesthetic experiences (cycing, kayaking, skiing, etc.) and flying has been no different. It didn't take long to get physically comfortable in the plane. I'd say that within 4 or 5 flights I was in a position where it would take a really catastophic occurence to shake me up. However, I think that makes it vital that I keep close tabs on my limitations and skill level so that I don't push the envelope to far and compromise safety while remaining in my zone of physical comfort.

As for disappointments, I had to postpone my first solo when the plane lost comms during the dry run with my instructor aboard. It was a great experience, but I was geared up and ready to go that day! I've also had a few cancelations due to weather, but that's really no biggie. I've had a couple of interesting check rides and stage checks. There's been one check pilot who is a phenomenal pilot and instructor, but our personalities during a check flight don't exactly mesh. He gets me rattled and that's something I definitely need to work on. I had one instructional flight with him and that was great. Just something about him in 'examiner mode' and me in 'examinee mode' that doesn't click.

Overall, had I known what my experiences up to this point were going to be like when I first started down this path, I wouldn't have changed anything. It's been an awesome ride with great learning experiences and challenges. I found a school that fit me perfectly by doing a lot of homework, JC forum reading and posting, and visiting; I'm doing something that I love, that's fun, and that's a great challenge; Flying seems to fit my personality and learning styles perfectly; and, most importantly, I'm enjoying every minute of it. Of course, the real challenge will be laid out when it comes time to find a job and make a living as a pilot, but I have fall backs and am ready to deal with that when it's time.

In closing, so far the dream is becoming a reality with seamlessness. I couldn't be happier (unless someone has a twin that they want to donate to the PhotoPilot fund . . .

I need to grab some breakfast and go fly!