Hello again! I’ve told my negativity where to stick it, met CFI #5, and made it back up to the skies again this week.
I won’t lie, I was pretty determined to hate this new guy. In my mind I had it all worked out that he was a lousy instructor that was only using me to get to an airline career. I arrived at the airport with 10 minutes to spare and no manifest. Make no mistake, this was a last ditch effort from a student that was once again ready to quit.
I settled into a cushy chair in the pilot’s lounge and began checking the weather on my phone when a friendly voice emerged from the usual cloud of testosterone that permeates these places. A tall brunette stepped out of the crowd and identified himself as my new CFI. I’m not sure I even stood up to shake his hand.
I explained to him I hadn’t flown in three months and didn’t really remember how to fill out the weight and balance or density altitude on the manifest. When I told him my last instructor had shown me a shortcut on the computer for figuring these out, he patiently insisted I should do it myself and showed me how.
At the preflight he insisted I climb up to check the fuel in the wings and check the oil myself. Dear readers, close your mouths. I know the pilot is responsible for visually checking the fuel and oil levels in the plane before take off. I even agree with this notion. However, this particular flight school has a policy that the CFI has to check and verify those two things so it is often the case that the student is told to skip them and perform the rest of the preflight while the CFI climbs up there and checks under the cowling. I was impressed, even joyful, this new CFI felt it was just as important for me to do these two rather fundamental parts of the preflight as I did. I had already grown accustomed to skipping them. Shame on me!
He did this other thing I was not used to an instructor doing. He asked me questions. Things like, “what kind of oil does this plane use?” and “what are you looking for when you inspect the ailerons in the preflight?” You know, stuff a good CFI does but I had not been exposed to much before.
When we went up it was all about checklists and procedure. He was glad I knew what to do, he was not glad I didn’t know how to explain or talk about what I was doing. We did some emergency procedures and stalls, then practiced some touch and goes. I was rusty, but he was patient and encouraging. When I was lost, he helped me navigate. When I didn’t appreciate the beginning of a spin, he offered me a barf bag.
Folks, I think I might be onto something good here. This new CFI has a military background, so I should be obnoxiously skilled with checklists by the time I get to my check ride. I have about ten weeks before my scholarship runs out so we should be flying quite a bit this spring. Today he is interviewing for the Air Force….let’s hope Uncle Sam can wait until I get my private before I lose another one!