Learning to fly is unlike anything I’ve learned before. For starters, there are no simple answers. Even the most basic questions elicit an outpouring of different answers.
Example: Where does one complete ground school?
Answers: Sporty’s, Embry-Riddle, King, the local community college, ASA pilot training manual, AOPA courses, the FAA website, an aviation ground school, an accelerated weekend course, a four year aviation program, a fast-track aviation program. And each comes with a conflicting opinion about if it will really prepare you with the knowledge you will need to know. Good luck!
Even filling out the simplest paperwork is confusing. I just figured out this week that my student pilot license number and medical certificate number is the same (I think). And don’t get me started on the training videos that throw arbitrary variables at you for velocity and lift, solve the equation in one breath and declare “see, it’s easy!” I’ll be the judge of that, training video. Maybe if they had some apples and took some of them away…now that I could endorse as easy math.
To further complicate things, I can’t seem to do anything right. My first time to shut a hangar door, I did it with such enthusiasm I bumped it off of its track prompting a “friendly reminder, be gentle with the hangar doors” email to the entire flying club and a sea of rumors about “that girl that joined the club.” My first time to fill out a log book turned into a scribbled and arrowed map to Calcutta. [Note to self: log books are to be filled out in pencil.]
When I’m in the air I’m being told things like “now when you’re about a half mile out…” How am I to know at what point I’m a half mile out? Or 500 feet out? Or 1,000 feet away from the airport after takeoff? Or 10 miles out from the airport I can’t even spot yet? Pilots know these things. I’m just not sure how it is they know them yet. When I ask they say “it’ll come to you.”
Why am I the only girl in my airplane club? Where is the “it’s called Algebra II because it doesn’t make sense until the second time around” crowd that doesn’t find the lift equation intuitive? Why does the Sporty’s Pilot Shop magazine have airplane themed wallets, cocktail shakers and highball glasses for men and only a couple of skanky you’ll-never-hide-your-bra-straps-in-this tops for women? The only way I can share I am a female and a pilot is to go braless? I need all the support I can get right now Sporty’s! Why does my husband who has no interest in flying know how to break down an airplane manual effortlessly when I’ve been at it four hours and still don’t know this plane’s Vy or engine type?
Don’t worry folks, I’m not quitting yet. I’m too pissed to quit now.
Perhaps right on time, I acquired a mentor with the Ninety-Nines this week. I will share future ramblings of insecurity with her, but I wanted to offer this up to the many other student pilots out there (especially the ladies) that feel very alone and inadequate in the learning curve to becoming a pilot. Don’t quit yet. I won’t if you won’t.