Taking on an unfamiliar project

March 8, 2015

If you are uncomfortable hiring a professional take comfort knowning a professional can make all the difference and ensure your project reaches its touch down to your satifaction. For example I have pasted my recount of learning to fly an airplane which took expert training and trust. After all my life depended on it. Emila Earhart said flying and aircraft and particularly landing an aircraft is like most things in life. It is easy to start but hard to finish. So when you read below imagine how my confidence would have been if I had not hired an expert. 

 

On December 16, 2009, at Mt. Comfort airport with IndyAero's
Cessna 172R, 5253B, on runway 16, I soloed. I really was not as scared
as I thought I would be. I had performed so many takeoffs and landings
that the process, even with some variation, had become very regular.
That is of course for a good weather day and with an instructor in the
right seat.

On my first flight with no passengers, no co pilot, no instructor, no
backup plan other than land it myself,  I had the oh crap feeling rush
through my mind briefly while in the traffic pattern on final approach
to landing. But my training seemed to calm my mind and guide me along
as it has on countless other landing attempts. I was aware that this
time it was different, there was no one else in the cockpit with me. I
also realized all of my actions on countless previous flights were
what had guided me along safely to the runway and flying the plane
this time was hardly distinguishable. Both solo times in the pattern
turning base to final I realized I was a little high as indicated on
the VASI beside the left edge of the runway. I prefered being high to
being low and welcomed the fact that this landing would be the same as
the others with excess altitude and a slightly lower RPM setting. The
first solo landing came just like the 4 previously with my instructors
company, a slight bark of the tires smoothly meeting the runway,
preceded by a stall warning horn. After the first solo landing I am
sure there was more of a smile on my face and feeling of acomplishment
in my mind than the previous landing (with instructor).

On my first landing rollout I wanted to make the first taxi way and
greet my instructor so I applied the brakes to slow my speed, however
the plane pitched down more sharply than I had intended and I quickly
relaxed the pressure and extended my roll out to the next taxiway. On
the taxi way I met my instructor who was the first to congratulate me
on my acomplishment. We agreed that I should perform one more flight
before the sunlight was gone and off I went.

My second attempt required communication with traffic on a runway
perpendicular to mine on an instrument ILS landing that I would fly
through. I quickly recalled my instructors direction that if ever in a
situation like this that it would be wise to mention in my radio
communication to the other traffic that I am a student pilot on my
first solo attempt. Just as my instructor, Mat Dolezal, said they
would, the other traffic reported back on the radio that they would
look out for me! I was obviously the most dangerous thing on that
particular approach for the other pilot and they would do their best to avoid me! Funny thing is my instructor and I had long joked before that if this situation happened the
other pilot would gladly leave the traffic pattern and simply
wait for me to call them once I was on the ground, in my car, leaving
the airport. Turns out he was right! Luckily for all of us I made it safely around. 

Once in the car headed for home, I dialed Carmen first. She didn't
even wait for me to explain when she asked if I had soloed. I
explained that I had and that I was not really too afraid when I did
it. She quickly congratulated me and said she was proud of me. I
called my parents next. After several calls to their house the result was still
the same...no answer. Finally I tried my Fathers cell phone and
this time he answered. I spoke about the process coming up in
preparation for the cross country phase of flight training after
explaining my emotions with soloing. My father explained that he and
my mom were over my sisters house for her birthday party. He
congratulated me and explained that he was proud of me before passing
the phone on to my sister. She too was curious about my milestone in
aviation and I reexplained it all from the beginning. I am sure she
could sense how excited I was.

After the phone calls on my way home I began to more deeply reflect on
what had just transpired less than 1 hour before. I recalled the
similar level of nervous excitement I felt some 16 years before when I
began to drive a car on my own. Even deeper my thoughts gathered
remembering how similar the process had been in learning to drive a
car. With my father explaining everything to me as carefully as he
could and patiently correcting my mistakes. I felt saddened with the
time that has passed since that training, and how sentimental and
cherished a thought it had become though deeply burried in my memory.
How inescapably we all quickly age and how when looking back I too
have sort of come of age.

I feel very fortunate to have had the experiences I have had in my
life. I believe I have a wonderful loving family that supports me in
all my endevors. Just as the Wright brothers once said, "We were lucky
enough to grow up in an environment where there was always enough
encouragement to children to pursue intellectual interests; to
investigate whatever aroused curiosity. In a different kind of
environment, our curiosity might have been nipped long before it could
have borne fruit." I feel the same with my family and my
opportunities. Interestingly I was only one day from the anniversary
of their solo that occured in Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903.

A week of milestones, birthdays, and even anniversarys. This week
marks my 8th year at INDOT, Sisters 29th Birthday, and my College
Graduation. In fact it was 8 years ago today that I graduated college.
I started INDOT the day after graduation, December 17, 2001. INDOT was
a company I thought I would work for only 9 months when I began the
day after college. It has now become 25% of my life.

As of this writing it is still fresh in my mind and yet dreamlike.
With time I will look back on this writing and laugh at how little I
knew at the time of my solo. I am sure I will look back at how simple
this was relative to future aviation acomplishments. But as sure as
Wilbur and Orville were pilots after their first flight, I am now too.
I am proud of what I did today and I look forward to my first solo
crosscountry.
 

 

 

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