Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spin Part II

That's an unusual attitude!
When it stopped being terrifying, it became fun. When I did it the second time it became something I could control and explore. And the feeling I'm left with is exhilaration that I just can't express. It's something akin to my first landings, or when I learned I could control a plane over the runway, or when Lazy 8s became my favorite maneuver, but more. So much more.

It is, of course, spins. Stalling an airplane, making it spin and then playing with the spin to see what it takes to make the plane spin longer. Playing with a spin. PLAYING with a SPIN. Do you hear me? ME!? Playing with a spin! I have been stumped since yesterday trying to express how huge that is for me.

Yeah... that's me, smiling!
I am still stumped. I've written probably four pages of words... and none of them work. Maybe I do need to make that video... a compilation of "Horror at 5000 feet" which is what my CFI jokingly entitled the video of my first spin and the last spin I did yesterday where I was smiling through the whole thing and was loving it. I call it "Horror at 5000 feet part II." Or "Horror at 5000 feet, the Revenge". Yeah. I think that's what I'll do. Words fail me. In the meantime, some photos grabbed from screen shots. Video to come.

The other bits of news I'd like to share with you all... I've got my "Spin Endorsement" which means I have been found instructionally proficient in spins. Another milestone in my CFI training completed. Even better, I have a deal with my CFI to keep going up and doing spins every month or so, in part for fun and in part so I'd feel comfortable taking a student up for a spin myself. I'm really looking forward to that.

A new endorsement in my logbook. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015


I grab at the shoulder harness and gasp out loud, Oh my God! I can't do this! The green Northern California hills wobbles below me an instant after seeing blue sky. Power idle, says his calm voice. The wobbling motion of the world becomes a smoother spin as the plane stabilized. Rudder, he says. The spin stops instantly and he pulls smoothly out of the dive. See, we only lost 500 feet. 

I regarded the plane I'd use for my spin training with
some trepidation when I arrived at the airport.
The first spin of my required spin training yesterday and I panicked. The word can't crossed my lips. I just did not know how I could do it. How can I spin a plane on purpose? But, I have to do this. If I'm going to be a CFI I have to be able to spin a plane and, more important, recover from spins safely. I hated it but I'd have to keep at this if I want to meet my goal. I asked him to do another one.

Climb back to up 5000 feet, full power and pitching up to the edge of a stall, then right before the stall, stomp left rudder and the nose yaws up and left. In a blink the world wobbles, then spins and recovers again. His calm voice guiding every step of the way. That time the initial wobble was less scary. Again.

Again and again and again. Five times he repeated the process, varying the characteristics of the spin by changing when he reduced power and how quickly he recovered. Each time I was able to think, instead of panic, through more of the process. Each time it became less terrifying and more familiar, not comfortable, but at least familiar.

My turn. I ask him to make sure I don't mess this up. He reassures me with a quick grin.  Power on stall, stomp rudder, yaw and roll, wobble and spin and very quick recovery. It was much less scary when I did it. I did it again and again, another three times before my stomach started to protest the G forces as I recovered from the dive at the end of the spin. I was starting to enjoy it. It was sorta fun! We decided to return to the airport before my stomach got any worse. We would go up to do spins to the right the next time we meet.

On the flight back to the airport I felt elated. I did it! I actually did it! I pushed through the panic and did it. If I can do that, I can do anything!

On the long drive home I thought about the spin and what I wanted to do next time I spin. Next time I want to let it spin longer and smooth out my recovery (in addition to spinning to the right and seeing what happens when you pull back on the elevator during a spin). I actually wanted more. I actually felt like I could control this scary thing, this spin, and decide to let it go on longer or decide to get out quicker.

I got home and basked in a strong feeling of relief and freedom and gratitude. Relief that I was able to push through the panic. That I would be able to go forward with the process and become a CFI.  Freedom, I wasn't sure why, but I definitely felt freer. Like there was something that was blocking me from the fullness of flying and I was free of that thing. Gratitude, honest gratitude, for and to my flight instructor who helped get me through it. The same flight instructor I've worked with for all of my certificates and ratings. This wasn't the first time I did a spin with a flight instructor in the plane, but it was the first time I was willing to do it a second time.

Elation, relief, freedom, gratitude... not what I expected as a result of spin training, but I will quite happily take it.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Great Day!

Saturday... beginning of March. Absolutely gorgeous flying weather... and, on top of that, I had a fantastic day... aviation related of course!

Day started off sleeping in all the way to 8AM. Then I got up and made myself a nice breakfast. Left the house by 10AM and got to the airport at 11. Talked to friends at the club, helped a club member with a computer problem and met with a future member who wants to get an instrument rating. I recommended some flight instructors to him.

The 6 members who signed up for the RHV tower tour arrived.  We loaded up two cars and drove over to RHV's tower and spent almost two hours there learning about tower operations at our home airport.

Back to the club and went to a nearby fast food joint to grab lunch with a CFI friend. Back to the club and pre-flit the plane for my flight lesson. I had been rehearsing in my mind over and over exactly how I would do this flight and I expected it to go well.

Took off for the lesson and did great, great, great! I was teaching, flying and talking and I did awesome. My CFI said that a couple times and even patted me on the back he was so pleased. He said whatever I had for breakfast I should do that again. Then on approach to land my CFI says lets see if you can land on the centerline. So I put the plane exactly on the centerline, light on the mains and on the numbers. Taxied off at Charlie. He said, "You know the hard part, do that again." I know, but I smiled anyway.  As we taxied back to the club he was very positive. So was I. I actually said out loud, "I CAN do this." He said he knew that.  Next time we meet we'll do chandelles and lazy 8s. After that will be my spin training!

Lastly we did a brief meeting with the TSA and some of the club CFIs. I learned a lot and we all had a great laugh too.

At the airport from 11 to 7 and it felt like 5 minutes... 5 very good minutes. Tomorrow I will go up solo and practice teaching chandelles and lazy 8s. Tomorrow promises to be great day too.