Flight School – Recap – Week 2

So I’ve decided that going forward I’ll be writing weekly progress posts as I continue on through flight training. My previous posts outlined my first official day and first day I got airborne, but daily journals aren’t necessary.

I’m training on a Cessna 172SP round dial. I will be switching to a G1000 glass cockpit once I start my instrument training. I think that it is a good idea to have experience with traditional instruments so I prefer to hold off on the glass cockpit. I’ve picked up quickly on the preflight and each day this becomes more and more like second nature.

We started off with the basics– climbs, descents, turns, and straight and level flight.

Theory, theory, theory. Understanding the fundamentals behind flight and the flight controls is absolutely critical when learning to fly. I cannot emphasize this enough. In my first few flights, I had still not fully learned all the material associated with the maneuvers I was learning and this made things difficult – almost overwhelming. After my second flight I did end up feeling overwhelmed and was left questioning whether this journey is for me. I didn’t let it get to me, and just pushed forward.

We fly out in a practice area a few miles north of the airport my school is out of. This practice area has a radio frequency all aircraft in the area should be on. We use this frequency to make ourselves known to other aircraft in the area. When entering the practice area we announce ourselves over the radio and ask if anybody else is flying out there. When leaving the practice area we do the same. On my second flight, we announced ourselves to the practice area and there was no response back. I was learning basic maneuvers at about 2500ft of altitude when I saw and verbally called out to my instructor traffic off our right side at the same altitude coming straight for us! A split second later this other plane banked left and I saw a low wing Piper from another flight school shoot by us no more than a few hundred feet away. They were not on the practice frequency or simply did not make themselves known on the radio. I asked my instructor if this was considered ‘very close traffic’ as I did not have much to compare it to. He said that this wasn’t the closest traffic he’s had to avoid, but it was indeed close. This honestly shook me up a bit. Soon after I told my instructor I had enough for the day, and we headed back to the airport early.

I never understood flight as I do now – that controlled flight is achieved through a series of small inputs and together they help you achieve the outcome you are after. Understanding how an input to any given control will change another flight characteristic and how to compensate for this is basically everything you are doing to maintain your desired flight path. After the first few days flying, I was still unsure how I was going to progress to a point where I would be able to fly the plane, navigate, and communicate. That picture is getting much clearer now as I am starting to learn each of these pieces one by one. It no longer feels overwhelming at all, I understand that it will take practice and experience and as I progress tasks will become more like second nature. With my first week of training behind me, I am also pretty satisfied with the fact that I have had no negative reaction physically (airsickness). We’ll see how I feel after stalls and spins though  :).

We lost about half the flight time I has scheduled in my first week to weather. As it stands I logged my first 6 hours of flight in my first week of flight training. Each day left me feeling better and more confident than the last. I remember driving home after one of my lessons and feeling extremely satisfied and fulfilled. I’m starting to see the full picture and can see how I will be able pull everything together – it all makes sense to me now. I find myself hoping for good weather and looking forward to my next lesson.

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