The boring part of flying

Hi gang! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We sure did.

I’m still heading up to the airport two to three times a week. Bit by bit I am learning to apply the things I read to the things I do. I’m sure the guys in the tower get a kick out of me. This is what I sound like on the radio:

[click] Hillsboro ground, Cessna 34859er ………..[click]….[click] I’m in the parking lot and I uh…I’m ready to move now…permission to taxi to the run up area, please?[click]

[click] Hillsboro tower, Cessna 34859er on…uh…(frantically search for airport signage as I’ve forgotten where it was I turned, even though they told me exactly where to turn and I repeated it back to them) Alpha 8…I wanna….well, I’m stopped now, can I have clearance for departure? [click]…[click] oh! I have information Golf too! [click]

[click] West Practice Area, Cessna 859er at 3000 feet and climbing over….(to my CFI) psst, where are we again? [click]

[click] Cessna 859er on the downwind for 31 right [click][click] LEFT!!!! SORRY! I MEANT 31 LEFT!! [click]

And their absolute favorite,

[click] Cessna 859er, can you say all of that again but this time a lot slower? [click]

I have learned that pilots have come up with clever names for certain traffic controllers that are well known for being humorous or difficult to understand. I’m sure the traffic controllers have some nicknames for us too. Although I honestly wouldn’t know if they have come up with one for me yet. They have been nothing but exceedingly nice and patient with me so far.

When I’m not attempting to talk on the radio I’m learning about stalls, emergency field landings, engine failure and radio failure procedures and taking in the beauty of the mountains. On clear days you can easily see Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. Out the other window you can see the Tillamook State Forest.

When I’m not in the air I’m enduring the absolute drudgery that is ground school. Here’s a taste:

Indicated altitude is the altitude measured, and displayed, by your altimeter. Pressure altitude is the vertical distance above the standard datum plane, while density altitude corrects pressure altitude for nonstandard temperature. True altitude is the actual height of an object above mean sea level. Absolute altitude is the actual height of the airplane above the earth’s surface over…..sorry, I fell asleep there for a minute, where was I? And no, none of that sunk in.

I can almost fill out a weight and balance chart and figure out the pressure and density altitude by myself. Almost.

I’ve arrived at the part of my training where not everyday is the most fun ever. Some days I am stuck reading this phone book:

It’s boring as hell but at least there’s a section in the back about UFOs.

Then there is the Jeppeson text book, the Test Prep guide, the Cessna operating manual and a handful of other materials from the FAA. All riveting reads, let me tell you. (yes, that was dripping with sarcasm)

I know it’s all important stuff. I know it will probably turn up on my written exam or check ride. Heck, it’ll be important to my basic, everyday safety. But it is really challenging to stick with it. The minute I start to glaze over reading about noise abatement procedures or fuel selector valves there is an adorable puppy asking to go for a walk, or a husband asking what’s for dinner, or a glance at the clock tells me I have to be at work in 20 minutes. What’s that over there? Right, a pile of laundry, I’ll just take a quick break from these books and before I know it whole days have passed and no studying has been done.

I’ve resorted to taking books up to work with me because at least when I get a break up there all is quiet and free of distraction. Except yesterday someone brought Christmas cookies and left them in the break room. See, that sort of thing draws a crowd, and I may have chatted away all of my breaks with colleagues. It beats tracing that picture describing classes of airspace for the umpteenth time because I’m still confusing Class B with Class C.

Some of aviation education is really boring. At least it is punctuated by opportunities to climb into a plane and fly around a bit.

Mt. Adams

Mt. Hood

Mt. St Helens (right) and Mt. Rainier (left)


7 thoughts on “The boring part of flying

  1. I found Rod Machado’s book for the Private Pilot exam a *lot* easier to stick with. It was not nearly as dry and I fell asleep a lot less often.

    I think that starting a practice written sooner, rather than later, is a good idea. ALL of the possible questions are online. Yes, you will be required to do a weight and balance calculation for your Designated Examiner, but the truth is on the Private Pilot written there are *four* possible weight and balance questions, all multiple-guess. You can very easily memorize the pattern (I believe the one with a 50lb piece of luggage is out of c.g., but it’s been a while), saving yourself a lot of time and hassle on the written exam.

    Yes, some of these things will be important for flying safely. However, I believe that learning anything about an ADF is a waste of time because you won’t ever fly with one. Unfortunately, the FAA doesn’t offered a modified, modern exam, so you have to answer the ADF questions.

    For me, talking on the radio was the hardest part of learning to fly. Finally I got a handheld radio and turned it on at breakfast and listened to the tower over my morning cereal. Understand that there was a script and what portions changed each call made a huge difference to me. And I learned to never push the button until I had run through what I was going to say ONE time in my head first.


  2. Pingback: Are We There Yet? | The Bold Bluebonnet

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