Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Going Back and Moving Forward

Its been an odd couple of months since I earned my Commercial certificate in April. Sometime I may share some of the adventures and thoughts of those months, but for now I want to share today's fun.

I've started training again. This time for CFI. I've learned so much on my journey from Private to Instrument to Commercial and the many adventures along the way I may have something valuable to share with new pilots. This also gives me a chance to keep learning about flying, which, as some of you may have guessed, I really enjoy.

I am doing my CFI training under FAR Part 61 with the same flight instructor I've been working with for many years now. He's earned my respect and trust, has a stellar reputation, and I would love to be able to teach as well as he does. This means its going to take me quite a bit longer to earn CFI than a trip to an accelerated school. However, learning this way gives me the opportunity to develop my own syllabus and lesson plans and training style. I like the creative freedom I'll have even though it will be a harder road for me to travel.

In any case, my second homework assignment was to develop my first lesson plan for my Private Pilot course. The first lesson will cover the four forces of flight and the flight portion will be the four fundamental maneuvers. As I worked on the lesson plan for the last few days I found myself questioning my interpretation of what I've studied and learned. So, I figured if I want to validate my interpretation of how a plane flies, I should go up in an airplane and see for myself. After all, that's where my students will evaluate what I say and see how it matches reality.

Today I took to the air to see how a plane flies. I took off in 52492, the same plane I flew so many years ago on the day that inspired me to start this blog. The day I felt for the first time, like a bird in flight, an awkward bird, but a bird none-the-less. I took off in 52492 and headed out to the practice area. In a way it felt like a step back in time, I don't think I've flown in the practice area in a 172 since passing my Private Pilot check ride. It was like spending time with an old friend I hadn't seen in a long time. The plane has newer avionics than it did before and was re-upholstered but the engine ran just as smooth as I remembered it.

On the climb out I played with the pitch and observed the changes in the rate of climb as I never had before. When I leveled off I imagined how I would explain the change in control forces to a student. Would I have them level off or would I do it for them on that very first flight? I did some shallow turns and found it very difficult to force myself to fly uncoordinated as I wanted to feel what uncoordinated flight felt like (I imagine I'll be getting more familiar with that feeling flying with student pilots!).

I tested the stability of the plane pitching forward and feeling it descend, accelerate, climb, slow, descend, accelerate again until it settled back where it started. I did shallow, moderate and steep turns and observed what the plane did with and without the correct control inputs. In the turns I played with the rudder, paying close attention to the slightest feel of slip or skid. I did so many steep turns the Attitude Indicator got stuck in a strange attitude and I had to cover it to not distract me on my return to RHV. I hadn't done steep turns in a 172 since my private check ride either.

It was quite fun... going back to my 172 "roots" and observing for myself the truth of what I wrote in my lesson plan. Even more fun to feel one with the plane, with the air, to feel that yes, I can fly like a bird... with a bit more noise and not quite as maneuverable as a bird... but like a bird nonetheless. I feel like I've just scratched the surface of what flying is... I am excited to be on another journey of discovery. I can't wait to go back up and play again!


  1. Congratulations on your various flight achievements! It's good that you're training under a person you know who you can depend on. I've read in some studies that success in training can be deeply affected by the nature of one's relationship with their instructor. Anyway, I hope you're having tons of fun. Stay safe up there!

    Raymond Curry @ Holstein Aviation

    1. Raymond - I am having tons of fun learning what I don't know about flying and then learning even more :) Thanks for the encouragement!