Breaking the stall

I flew for the first time since Memorial Day weekend today. Not as a pilot, but as a passenger on a commercial jet.

Why the hiatus?

Somewhat becausethe end of May was when my scholarship deadline passed and I felt like a failure because I had made it all the way to .3 solo hours from eligibility for the check ride and didn’t close the deal. Somewhat because my husband started a new medication with tremendous side effects and I wanted to take care of him. Somewhat because of feelings of inadequacy – an inability to navigate; botched attempts at slipped and crosswind landings; still no idea how to do a VOR check from the ground; a foggy grasp of how to locate things in the FAR AIM. Somewhat because another CFI had moved on to an airline job. But mostly it was fear.

I had heard multiple CFIs tell me I was a good pilot. I was “private pilot material.” Even one disturbing remark “Val, I have soloed and checked out student pilots that have less talent than you do in your pinky, what are you waiting for?”

Fear. I’m waiting for the fear to pass.

Recently I saw a posting on my 99s board. A private pilot that earned her license 5 years ago admitted to fear. Tremendous, paralyzingly fear. She was afraid to fly to new airports. She was  afraid to fly alone. She asked for advice. Over the next two weeks responses poured in from all over the country. Kindred spirits with similar fears. Two that stood out to me were women with licenses that were afraid to leave the pattern even with their pilot husbands in the right seat.

So that’s it then?! The fear never leaves, it only gets worse after you earn your license?!

I gave up for a while. 

Then I started to miss flying. I found myself losing my place in a conversation because I was watching a plane in the sky – like a dog when it sees a squirrel.

How do I get back up there? Especially now that I’ve forgotten so much since I haven’t flown in 5 months and I’ve lost another instructor?

I posed this quierry to the universe and guys, the universe answered.

Once a year in the middle of nowhere (also known as Vernon, Tx) a group of women get together for Girls In Flight Training (GIFT) week. It’s a full week of free ground school all day everyday. Bring your dumb girl questions, bring your fears, and get over them in a room full of like-minded, equally frightened girls. 


There are also flight lessons each day tailored to the student wherever she is at and a DPE present for anyone ready for the check ride.

It only took this pansy two weeks to think it over, one night to see what her husband thought (he’s extremely supportive), and I was booking my ticket to Texas.

I arrived a few days early to visit family so tonight I am back in my childhood home, sleeplessly sweating buckets (it’s still 90 in Texas), watching the first lightning storm I’ve seen in a year and sifting through an old high school yearbook. I’m nervous and excited, just like being 17 again.

I’ll keep you guys posted๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ‘.


5 thoughts on “Breaking the stall

  1. There were certainly moments in my training when I knew that, if I didn’t get right back on the horse, I might never. Heck, after 15 years of flying, I had a moment like that earlier this year. Congratulations to you for not only getting back on the horse, but doing so after such a long hiatus. While you’re at it, just remember that there’s an entire community of pilots out there whom you’ve never met that are all rooting for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I also have many fears but have conquered most of the them. Snakes and sharks will be around for a while longer because I don’t want to make this look too easy. To me the trick is to be more afraid of failing than of giving into the fear. I must fly the aircraft to a different airport because that is why pilots do so I will do it. I must spin the airplane because that is a skill set that professional pilots have. I must land with a maximum cross wind because it is expected. The option from each of these tests is if I fail then I quit flying, (forever). Yes it is scary, yes that will ask what could possibly go wrong and yes the answer ends with death,

    But you have that glimmer of hope. It says that you can do this. It says all pilots have faced these fears and they had success. It challenges you to do it and when you are done the words “What can possibly go wrong magically transform from a threat to the punchline of a joke. Those words lose their scary power and fire sarcastic jab after jab at fear and it transforms into your calling card.

    When a friend asks “Want to go do something stupid in an airplane?” You answer. “Sure, what could possibly go wrong?” The seconds after you speak those words you have conqurred all the evil/negativity/garbage and burned it in the pit of lost dreams. Because you and your pilot are headed out to make Texas sized memories.



    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve known a number of aviators who had that persistent fear. From what I’ve seen, the solution is solo flying. Going up by yourself does more to build confidence than anything else. Stay in the pattern, go to new airports, explore the countryside. Instructors, friends, and family can tell you you’re good enough. An examiner can test you and proclaim you good enough. But to get rid of that fear, the one you really need to hear it from is yourself, and as they say, you can’t lie to the mirror. ๐Ÿ™‚


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