Tuesday, October 1, 2013

From Fear to Fun

Tonight's sunset from the Lick Observatory.

Thought I would share this picture of my flying stomping grounds from the Lick Observatory Mt. Ham Cam. This is a beautiful sunset shot taken tonight is a reflection of my happy mood after today's training flight. What a difference a little attitude adjustment makes.... it resulted in a night and day difference in my flying.


My last training flight before today was before I took the commercial written. That flight was not a happy one. There was an AIRMET for turbulence before we took off. Winds were strong. I was afraid, very afraid. We were going up to introduce me to Lazy 8's, another commercial maneuver. Its hard for me, today, to describe what I was afraid of, but I was afraid. We went up and my CFI demonstrated the maneuver and it scared me. The turbulence bothered me, the winds were not helping make the maneuver any less scary. At first I refused to do it... I was just too scared. I was on the verge of tears. But finally I said I would try one. I did one and didn't like it. Maybe I tried another one. I'm not sure, but I was not enjoying that at all.

We decided to come back in since the turbulence was bad (not moderate but bad) and I was just not in a state to learn. On the way back to RHV I picked up the ATIS and it reported AIRMETs Tango, Zulu and Sierra. A trifecta of bad conditions... that matched my mood perfectly. I did manage a good approach and landing in the strong winds. "Great time to practice short field landings", my CFI said. I was not pleased. There wasn't much to debrief. I understood the maneuver, I just had to get over my fear. 

How to Get Over Fear

I struggled the next few days trying to figure out how to get over my fear. I knew I just had to do it. I had an old fortune cookie in my log book "Fear and Desire. Two sides of the same coin." it said. I had kept that in my log book for a long time. I decided I should get rid of that fortune cookie. Time to put aside the fear. Strangely when I went to my logbook the little sheet of paper was gone. Maybe it knew it was time to depart. The only thing I could think of to get over the fear was to get as familiar as possible with the maneuver, and try to focus on fun instead. 

I found as I walked through the maneuvers in my living room, I was able to adequately simulate the view of the rotation of the airplane from the 45 to 90 to 135 degree point. That rotation was something I was afraid of doing wrong in the air but on the ground it fascinated me. Then I remembered how, in spite of the turbulence, my CFI made the plane rotate so smoothly that there were no g-forces or slipping or sliding feelings. I was able to make my hands show that same rotation as I walked through the maneuver. It wasn't scarey. It was actually fascinating.  I kept repeating the walk through over and over  to get myself more familiar with what I was seeing. As what I was seeing got more familiar I felt the fear retreating.

From Fear to Fun

Today I finally got to go up again with my CFI and try out those Lazy 8s.  No AIRMETs this time and calmer winds, though not perfect conditions, better than we had before. We went out and made sure we both agreed on what 45, 90 and 135 degrees were. Then I asked him to demonstrate another Lazy 8 while I kept my hands on the controls. It wasn't scary at all. Then I did one with his hands on the controls, not scary. Then I started doing them on my own with him coaching me, sometimes I was pitching without turning, sometimes too much bank, sometimes not enough rudder, other times rolling out too quickly. I wasn't doing bad, not scared at all, I was actually having fun and by the end I was doing it "to spec". It was actually funny, towards the end of the flight I kept saying, "OK, lets do one more." and then "one more" and then "one more" after about the fifth "one more" it really was time to come back. 

We were both smiling on the way back to RHV. As we listened to RHV's tower traffic we heard a Bonanza pilot ask the tower to check their front landing gear. They weren't sure it was coming down. Sure enough, the problem was a burnt out gear indicator bulb. I said I could tell they weren't trained by my CFI. Anyone trained by him would know to check that right away. Time to come in to land, the approach was good, the landing was actually very soft.  I even parked the plane well. 

Yeah, it was a great flight and great transformation from fear to fun. Just as I decided I must do. I'm not sure if I'm more pleased about the successful attitude adjustment or how well I did in the flight but in the end I'll take them both and be happy :)


  1. Great write up! I really enjoyed this one Anissa.

  2. Excellent post Anissa. I really appreciate you sharing your experience and how you managed to go from fear to fun.