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Pilot

Posts about pilot skills, knowledge, and judgment

When I was a boy, my parents and I moved to the small town on the Northern California coast where my dad grew up. On one of my first trips to the beach, I remember playing in the wet sand along the shoreline. Something caught my eye and I bent down for a closer look. The next thing I knew, my mother was snatching me up off the ground just as a big wave came surging up the beach.

More on Respecting the Craft

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Falling out of an uneasy sleep, I rolled over and looked at the clock. It was 4 am. "Right on cue," I thought. My dreams as usual had been full of convoluted logistics and unpleasant surprises. Now it was time for my regular 4 am bout of worry. Did I pay the insurance premium? Hell, I was supposed to contact so-and-so last week about his project. What's the roof repair really going to cost? Have I been flying often enough to be safe? On and on the litany went, and as usual there was no pattern. Last night's crises were gone, replaced by tonight's fresh crop, which would yield to a new set tomorrow. By 6am or so, I drifted back into a fitful sleep until the alarm went off a short while later. In the light of day, the details of these seemingly urgent issues would be forgotten, leaving only a vague, residual anxiety. This went on for years, at least three or four nights a week.

More on Knowing When to Stop Digging

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The hunt was on. My instructor Jim and I were on a training flight in a glider and we were searching for a usable thermal to gain some altitude. We were finding lots of sink and plenty of light turbulence everywhere, but the lift was eluding us. As we slowly lost altitude, I headed in the direction of the gliderport to keep us in gliding range.

More on Pilot in Control?

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Anders and I sat in the runup area as he set up our club's Cessna for some IFR practice in VFR conditions. I would be acting as safety pilot. It would be good experience for me, too, since I had an instrument proficiency check (IPC) coming up soon.

More on Buttinsky

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"Look at your altitude! What the hell's the matter with you?!" the instructor bellowed.

The student, already frustrated and overwhelmed, was now also feeling embarrassed and angry at a time when he needed to be flying the airplane. At that moment, flying seemed like more hassle than it was worth.

More on Everybody's a Critic

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