Friday, May 5, 2017

Evolution of a Pilot

Yesterday my CFII and I were flying together again. The first time in a very long time. We've been working on preparing me for the CFI-Instrument rating for the last few months. After covering all of the Instrument ACS and the CFI-I PTS it was time to get flying again. To see if I can teach at the same time as I fly instrument.

After the first approach he said, "The good news is, it can only get better from here!" Yeah, it was a cluster f*ck. I put that behind me, flew and "taught" the missed and holding procedure. Then flew the same approach a second time and did better both teaching and flying.

It was our first time up with me teaching instrument and it was an eye opening experience to say the least. To really teach instrument flying you have to be waaaayyyy ahead of the airplane, the controllers and the student. I'm at the point where I'm ahead of the plane and the controllers 99% of the time when I fly instrument. However, adding teaching to the process adds a whole new level of difficulty. It means I have to know what's going to happen, what has to happen, how to make it happen, diagnose why it doesn't happen when the student screws it up ... and ... be able articulate all of that at the same time in complete sentences a human can understand. Hey, if I can learn enough to be a decent CFI, I will be able to do this. Just takes practice.

But that's not why I'm posting about this... yesterday's flight brought to mind my own evolution as a pilot. Yesterday highlighted to me some other areas of progress that I hadn't considered recently.

  • Take off and climb out. On take off both he and I noticed the poor climb performance of the plane given the Vy airspeed. We both immediately figured the air speed indicator was off and when I adjusted the pitch for what looked like the proper Vy pitch. I got the right climb rate. I never thought I'd be able to do that when I started training... and now I tell my students that they need to do that!
  • Over the mountains - we flew directly out over the hills and were in some turbulence. Turbulence that, when I started flying, would have had me very nervous. I barely noticed it aside from how it made it difficult to hold altitude. 
  • I was muttering at myself whenever I didn't hold a heading or airspeed the way I was planning on it  - my standards for myself are going up significantly in what I consider good flying. At the same time I didn't let it bother me. 
  • His comment about how it can only get better didn't bother me either. Years ago that sort of comment would have been immediate dark cloud over my head for at least a couple days. This time I just agreed and resolved to make it better quickly, which I actually did. 
On the return to RHV I was thinking of a flight we he and I did a couple years ago. When we went out to the valley for some instrument work and came back in just before they shut down the airport. It was an incredible entrance. Then he said how he was reminded of that same flight. Knowing what I know now about how flights (and students) tend to merge together in the CFI brain I was surprised but pleased that he remembered that entrance too.

Yesterday was a nice way to start the a new phase of my own evolution as an instructor pilot.