Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Commercial lessons, flying the Mooney, & solo actual

Well, we've officially embarked on the next step...the Commercial certificate. And that means I've got my hands on a new airplane...N19NS, the Mooney. This thing is a blast to fly. It's fast, the controls are tight, it's fast, it goes right where you want it to...and did I mention it's fast?

We finished lesson #2 today. I have a goal of wrapping this one up by mid-late April so I can make my CFI class the first week of May. I think we're on track so far. So far, we've done stalls, steep turns, slow flight (all to get used to this slicker airplane), and a power-off 180. The one thing I'm not really getting yet is getting the Mooney trimmed to hold altitude. It wants to climb in just about every phase of flight unless it's trimmed properly. I'll get used to it.

The written knowledge is pretty Private pilot stuff on a bit of a steroid trip. Really no huge worries there, and I should be able to knock that out in the next couple of weeks.

I got my first solo "actual" instrument flight today, by the way! Parker had to run N19NS out to Don Maxwell's shop in Longview to have the starter looked at, and I picked him up. It's almost like your first solo (okay, we all know that nothing really replaces that first solo feeling, but this is similar) when your reference to the ground starts to go away and everything around you is white. It really is "all you."

I've been meaning to talk about this, actually. Certain members of my family describe flying instruments as a "nightmare scenario." My grandfather, who logged plenty of instrument time flying Air Force transports during the Korean War, even told me to get "extra life insurance." To be sure, I grew up in a community of hard-core stick and rudder VFR pilots. That was my existence, too, for the first 10 years I was a pilot.

But I've come to find instrument flight just as much fun, in a different way, as flying low and slow on a pretty day in the Cub. Today, I got between two cloud layers. It wasn't really VFR on top, because the clear layer wasn't more than about 200 feet thick. The layer above me was thin, and you could look through it and see blue sky in some places and another high cloud layer in others. Everybody should get to see stuff like that. It was just as much of a "wow, I'm a real pilot" moment as the first time I took the Cub to a fly-in solo. I guess what I'm getting at is that IFR flight isn't dangerous, as long as it's properly planned and executed. And once you get over the idea that it's a "nightmare," it really opens up your horizons.

No more Mooney flying this week, but we hit it again on Monday. Maybe I'll get some more ground school knocked out this weekend.

Blue skies!

1 comment:

  1. Hey, buddy. It's great to see that you're progressing so nicely. You're way ahead of where I was at your stage of training. I didn't force myself to tackle single-pilot IMC until after becoming a CFI. Good for you, man.