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My Real life flight training cont... After the storm....

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Guest christianholmes

So, this is my first post regarding my flight training in several months. I'm not arrogant enough to think people missed me or my posts, but I don't want anyone to think I quit after 45 or so hours. Basically, life threw one of those nasty head-splitting curveballs my way. Without boring you, my marriage of a mere six years has come to a crossroads. Being a child of divorce, and knowing first hand the damage it can do to children, I always vowed to never end up that way- as did my wife. Unfortuately, I just don't think all woman value marriage these days. When they are purely in love, and enjoying the passion of marriage they're all for it- but as soon as things cool down and you both find yourselves working full time and taking care of small children something changes between you. It doesn't have to be a bad thing- and it's always something I said we would find time again for someday, but she doesn't seem so willing to stick that out. Being "in love" is something everybody wants, but it shouldn't come ahead of your priorities and responsibilities. I'm not sure of the outcome yet, as she swears she doesn't want a divorce- she just feels "smothered" and wants time away from me. Naturally, this would be hard news for anybody, and I have handled it like any true man would- I stepped up to the plate and confronted it the best way I know how. Unfortunately, even after several months of doing dishes, taking care of the kids, cooking, cleaning, and tending to the house so she could concentrate on her job (she said she needed to get through a tough time at work) it hasn't produced any results. I finally spoke with a lawyer- a female lawyer- who gave me the advice I wanted to hear: She is doing want she needs to make her happy- you should do the same- fly. As long as I pay my bills and take care of my kids there is no legal or ethical reason for me to give up my dream to satiate her (misguided is my word) desires. So that is where I'm at. I'm unsure if I will be living with my wife soon, but comforted in the fact that I don't need to stop living- not even for legal reasons.So after several months of being grounded my solo endorsement ran out, so I scheduled myself Sunday with my instructor. When I met him in the FBO and told him I wanted to get signed off again, I was nervous he would want to fly a few more times- maybe I was too rusty. Much to my relief, and the stroke of my ego which many people will tell you is larger than it warrants, he simply said I was good enough where a few touch and go's would suffice. I should mention also that my brother got his ticket three weeks ago. He has been happily flying all over New England without a care. The day he got it, he went to New Haven and checked out in a warrior with my instructor. Again, instead of the several hours of training normally required my instructor told him if he was like me it would be no problem. So they did three touch and gos, and that was that. I don't know if there is such thing as a natural pilot- but we both have an uncanny ability to handle just about any machine- we were top of our Skip Barber class, won many medals racing dirt bikes as kids, and can both operate a backhoe like it's second nature (yes, we bought one after the whole internet thing- which is another story entirely). So as for the flying, I am good FOR MY LEVEL. I'm not saying I'm a great pilot, but I can handle crosswinds, radios, and emergenices in what I consider a very calm and collected manner. Maybe that is the secret? I am a very laid back person, and I think that translates into not overcontrolling or panicking. I think the saying "think first" could not have more relevance than when pondering the idea of jockeying a flying tin can about around the sky at 100 miles per hour.After about 10 touch and go's of various types (short field, soft field, normal) I said I was ready to call it a day. He asked me for a no flaps landing and about midfield downwind pulled the power and said "let's make it interesting". With no flaps, you can pretty much fly a normal (slightly tight) pattern. So I was nervous about ending up short, but knew I could really grease this, so I managed to put it down just after the first blocks which I was happy with. He signed me off, and I quickly scheduled several more solos.I scheduled a solo to practice pattern work tonight at 5, but was able to leave a satellite office I was working at today at 2:30, so I called the airport and they had a plane at 4. I went straight to the airport extremely excited- It was almost like soloing my first time, but without the fear that you would mess up. I knew I could do it, but it had been awhile. When I arrived at 3:30 the plane wasn't back yet, so I wandered around the FBO. Now, this isn't some mom and pop FBO like Poughkeepsie where they might not answer UNICOM because they are filling up a Columbia who's passing through. Robinson is a very professional, corporate building with keyed access to the tarmac, two seperate pilot lounges, leather chairs, conference rooms, fresh coffee, etc. Did I mention two bathrooms? That always comes handy since the place is usually fairly busy, especially midday. There was a crew for a Pilagio (sp?) which is the canard pusher-prop thing I posted pics of awhile back. Beautiful airplane- first class all the way. There were a few choppers there too- the News 12 chopper, and a Sikorsky corporate- does 76 sound right? Finally, the instructor with the keys to 36116 comes in and hands me them and a new time sheet (to record the hours on the hobbs and tach). I flew with him awhile ago once which I didn't mention- It was after all this marriage stuff started and I didn't now what was going on- he signed my solo endosement, which subsequently ran out last week. So he asked if I had a current one and I said I just had it renewed Sunday. I smiled ackwardly since although I'd like to stay and chat, I was eager to get out the door. There was a nice Saratoga TC being pushed in the hangar as I walked past. God how do people afford these luxuries? I need to start getting back into the entreprenuerial mindset... work now, reward later. Ok, maybe after I get my ticket :)So check the fuel, throw on the batteries and check the lights and stallhorn, and I'm about to grab the fuel cup and start pre-flight and my phone rings. It's work, and there's a problem with the server. Ok, akward situations much? So I try my best to get it fixed over the phone, and carry the conversation so nobody would ask where I was. Nothing is working. All of a sudden, the News 12 chopper is hover taxiing 100 feet away and I'm busted. She asks where I am, and I what was I going to say? Lying is just stupid. I just told her I was at the airport, and I would try to get her problem taken care of. I call my co-worker in our other office who is actually the comptroller. He's not exactly computer saavy, but I knew I could count on him. He also loves flying, and more than that we are both in "priveledged" situations at our company. He's the right-hand man of the owner, and I am the best friend of the owner's son in law. "Practically family" is what the owner said to me awhile back. Not that it would mean anything if I was screwing him, but as long as I do my job I have certain liberties. So to end this story- Bill was able to work around the problem and save my ####. Best kind of friends right? I'll buy him lunch or something.Now I admit I rushed the pre-flight a little- this plane was just out and the cylinders were still cooking. I checked the usual pins and bolts, but figured there was probably nothing I would catch if I didn't see it right away. Being a humid eighty-nine and sunny, it was hot out there. I strapped in but left the door and window open. There is no air conditioner like a propellor. It might not be frigid air, but there's PLENTY OF IT. I saw an unfamiliar student climbing into 48L with Renee, who is the sole female instructor. He oddly looked like me- only a little heavier. I wondered how new he was. So I got my Zulu ATIS info, and my taxi clearance and headed out to two zero at what was definately a "faster than walking" taxi speed :) The run-up was fine- no carbon buildup today, although I have seen that quite a bit by now. I always lean the mixture during taxi just to burn off any that might be there. At low throttle you don't have to worry about overheating the engine.I called the tower at the hold short line: "New Haven Tower, Warrior three six one one six, holding short runway two zero, ready for takeoff- remaining in the pattern". He called back "Warrior three six one one six, cleared for takeoff, report left downwind". I called back "three six one one six, cleared for takeoff, left traffic". Whether or not my radio skills are perfect I don't care- I just try to show him I understand what he told me without congesting the frequency.So there I went- New Haven is right on Long Island sound, and there is a beach club directly off the end of runway two zero. It was cool to see the hundreds of tan bodies down there. I also like to the think that among those hundreds, there must be at least one child, man or woman watching those planes way up in the sky and wish it was them in there. That was me as a kid- and it's almost surreal knowing I am living my dream.On my second downwind, the other plane I saw the student getting in was at the hold short line, and I heard him on the radio: "New Haven Tower, Warrior eight one four eight lima, ready for takeoff, remaining in the pattern". What did he miss? I knew right away he was too worried about feeling macho and forgot to tell the tower what RUNWAY HE WAS AT. Being such a busy school, the tower there is very accomidating, and he replied "Warrior four eight lima, cleared for takeoff RUNWAY TWO ZERO, report left downwind". Did the student realize his mistake? His next reply indicated he was even more unsure than before "New Haven Tower, Check". Whoops. I bet I did stuff like that too- although we would all like to forget it. I think the bottom line is that radio communications are almost a secret club that you can join only after years of humiliation. I think it is one thing that ground school should cover more- and I highly recommend one of the many radio-technique programs or DVDs available. I have alot to learn, although I am getting there. Top Gun is probably to blame for most of it. Too many people think sounding cool on the radio makes you a good pilot. Too often it just makes you look like a fool. I will admit however, when you hear an established veteran commercial pilot on the radio, it not only sounds cool, it's almost zen like. Segue to cool pilot story: I was number three behind a Challenger on my third pass. It must have been some sort of training, becuase he requested a taxi back to runway two zero for departure. So I did a few uneventful touch and go's- there was a 5 or 6 knot crosswind- so I got to practice a few one wheel landings- but it was barely noticeable- at least they were on the centerline. As I'm on downwind, the Challenger is lined up on the runway. The tower comes on and simply says "Challenger XXXXX (whatever it was) there's a King Air on half mile final". I'm not sure what I would have said if it were me- probably "One One six, roger" and proceeded to nail the throttle and hope I don't cause a go around. The experienced jet jockey however just keys the mike and says (in your best Tom Cruise impression) "We're rollin'", and the challenger proceeds to accelerate to 150 knots in seconds and launch off like the space shuttle. THAT is when it's okay to sound cool on the radio.So, next I will be doing my night cross-country. Hopefully this weekend or next week. I bought a new camera so I will get some good pictures of that (it is a dual).

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Good to hear you made it back up into the air again!Be safe and have fun up there.

Chris Miller

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