Sunday, November 29, 2015

750 Hours

My 750th hour - San Jose on a beautiful November day
There's a saying that goes something like this.
Pilots log hours flying as if no other hours matter.

I can't say that's entirely true. One year I logged 1000 miles run. I didn't count how long it took to run 1000 miles. Figuring I ran a 10 minute mile on average that year I ran for approximately 167 hours in one year. Coincidently, looking at my logbook, I've flown about 166 hours in the last 365 days, over 150 hours in 2015 so far.  Hmmm... I digress.

I flew my 750th hour yesterday. I thought it was going to be today, but it was yesterday. What did I do yesterday. Ah yes, I did the same thing I do most times I fly now-a-days. I worked on refining some maneuvers, saying fresh or better as I wait for my CFI check ride date to be set.

Yesterday I wanted to improve my emergency approach to landing. After which I was going to practice a bit of slow flight and steep turns. Happy to report that I pulled power around 4500 feet within glide range of South County and not only did a successful approach to landing, I landed it on the centerline, within commercial spec of normal landing distance and made it a soft field landing to top it off. Sweet! Then I flew over towards Lick Observatory to practice slow flight (that's where I took the photo above). Very good. Then I was going to do steep turns. I've been doing great to the right and "bouncing off the bumpers" to the left. I knew what I was doing wrong and I knew why, but I had trouble improving as much as I wanted. I was on a schedule so I didn't waste too much time on that and flew back to RHV. Unusually for me, I did not let the steep turns bother me. As I went about my day I thought about the problem and thought of a couple different ways to address it.

Today I flew again. First I flew to Half Moon Bay for lunch with my friends. Then I flew south to the practice area near South County and worked on the two ideas I had to improve my steep turns. One worked well. It took about half of the error out of my turns. My second idea took the rest of the error out of the turns. I repeated a couple times just to be sure it was repeatable. I was pleased and went back to RHV. I can't describe how good it feels to be able to correctly diagnose and resolve problems with maneuvers. It's especially hard to do for oneself.

I can't say my last year of flying has been my easiest. I've come close to quitting training many times. However, most of my problems have been "between the headsets" as my CFI likes to say. Good news is - I have learned much "between the headsets" as I've struggled and fought with myself to get past them. 750 hours ago I never would have said I'd be where I am today.

As I told a young man last year when he said he wanted to learn how to fly...

Learning to fly is the hardest, most wonderful, and most rewarding thing you will ever do.

With over 750 hours in my logbook, I'm still learning!

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