In November 2009, a self-proclaimed Archaeology Lifer found herself employed as a Flight Attendant. She's not sure how it happened. No one really is. Here's what happened next...

 

FINALLY got word from The Airline.  Yep I’m on the same flight home tomorrow morning, and I get to claim today as a reserve day, which is a better deal than I expected.  THANK GOD.

Actually, despite my bitching it worked out OK.  I definitely have a cold kicking up, so it’s a good job I didn’t have to do some 4 or 5 legs of flight today.  It gave me some time to get some homework done, and I’ve been able to just relax a little bit.

Now I know for sure they’re not going to make me work tonight or anything like that (which was a real possibility) I’m going to hit the pool and probably go back to the sauna for a while.  

Apologies for whining all day long, and for flooding tumblr with my posts.  I’ve just been reaaaally bored.  :)

A letter…

Dear Brain,

If you’d like to make a contribution greater than “Oooh, airplane!” this afternoon, it would be greatly appreciated.  I have math homework to do.

No love,

Hannah.

EEK!

I’m trying really hard to be all confident in myself, but I just realised that I am flying an airplane solo tomorrow.  I can’t help but be horribly nervous!  I wonder if I really am ready for this.  I mean, I like to think that I am, and I’m sure My Instructor would never send me off to do it if he didn’t think I could do it.  But holy hell, I’m SO NERVOUS!  I didn’t think I would be.  But then I thought “It’s tomorrow” and now I’m all jittery!

GUH!

Here we go again…

I’m screwing things up again.  I feel like the relationship between My Instructor and I is getting a little spiky. 

I’ve been having a really hard time getting past the flaring part of my landing, and I’m getting so frustrated that it is affecting my performance in other things which should be fine.  In my last lesson with him I was at an absolute low, and even he could tell I was getting way too upset.  I’m pretty sure he took us back to base early, because usually we go for an hour and a half, and he called it a day after just a little under an hour.  For the first time I felt his patience slip just the tiniest bit. 

During the debriefing, he said to me ‘everything is good…except for the flaring.’  He paused and looked down at my Pilot Training Record and said ‘Yeah, that’s taking a little longer.’  It wasn’t much, and didn’t mean much of anything, but it definitely put a crack in the confidence I have been attempting to shore up for three weeks now.

Afterwards I locked myself in the bathroom and cried.  Utterly pathetic, but the sheer frustration had to come out somehow, and with me it’s tears.  I was furious with myself, but it had to be done.

I realised that My Instructor seemed to be running out of ways to help me.  I knew he had been asking other instructors for advice (which I understand, but it still embarrasses the hell out of me), and he had come up with a few little tricks which didn’t seem to be entirely his own.  But while he was running out of ideas, I was running out of ways to not get upset.  It’s not his fault - he’s learning too, I need to remember that.  And it’s my own mental block - he can’t break that down for me, I need to do it myself.

I finally came to the decision that it was time to fly with the SuperInstructor again, but the man is ridiculously busy and doesn’t have a lesson available that matches my new schedule until early next week.  I snagged that lesson (I am due a supervisory flight anyways), but I knew I couldn’t wait that long to tackle my issue.  I feel stuck and it would have driven me nuts to wait another week.  So I approached C, another instructor I know and like to see if he would mind taking me out for some practice and see if he had some different angle which might shed some light on the situation for me.  I chose him because he’s a little more mature, has a really calm demeanor, and I know he is a very skilled pilot - he beat out My Instructor for a spot in the hiring pool for Air Canada Jazz.  Also, I like him personally, and find him easy to talk to.  He was one of the few guys I told at the club about my RCAF application process.  However we aren’t close enough friends that it would make it awkward - I could never ask S, for example, because we’re close friends now and it would probably be awkward to have a lesson with him.  Anyway, C agreed, and I booked him for this afternoon.

The lesson went pretty well I thought.  C sat down with me for a good ten minutes before the flight, and we discussed the act of landing in detail, paying particular attention to the flare - how to get into it and when.  It was back to basics, but it was good.  It was more in-depth than My Instructor usually manages, and I think it helped me visualize it a little more.

When we hit the circuits, C did the first landing and let me just touch my hands to the controls to feel how he did it.  When it was my turn I did my absolute best to stay alert and calm and really focus on everything he had told me.  Sure enough, I managed to set up my approach and do four consecutive flares that weren’t bad.  They didn’t all lead to excellent landings - things fell apart a little when the aft wheels touched down which C attributed to a crosswind.  But there were two glorious instances when I touched down quite smoothly on the runway and before opening the throttle to go again I paused and thought to myself ‘Wow, that was actually borderline good.’

Result.  I managed to get myself into the flare at the appropriate time and height and pull up a reasonable amount.  Now I need to work on making the action of pulling the nose up smoother, and controlling everything until all three wheels are on the runway.  I finished the lesson feeling a lot happier.  Maybe it was C, and certainly he described things to me really well.  But I’m sure a part of it was just me needing to break out of the rut I had gotten myself into.  By switching things up and providing myself a new atmosphere I felt able to produce something fresh.

In hindsight I probably should have discussed this with My Instructor beforehand, but I didn’t.  I didn’t tell him I was going to book C, I just did it.  I have been having a hard time talking to My Instructor, and while I still find I get a lot out of lessons with him, what I really think I need (in addition to his mad skills and stoic patience) is someone I can be open with. 

I’ve said it before, My Instructor is an intimidating and incredibly talented little sod.  I feel a little on edge around him, trying not to do or say anything that will make me look like a complete idiot - but I always end up feeling a bit wrong-footed when he’s around.  Usually I don’t mind, but when I am stressed and upset about something, the last thing I need is to be feeling like a dumbass.  Ideally what I would like to find is a secondary that I can have a lesson with now and then, but more importantly to talk to and be really honest with about my training and how it feels - not just how it’s progressing - who won’t make me feel like a fool, and whom I would trust not to go telling all of the other instructors about it.

My Instructor popped up on facebook chat this evening (he never talks to me online unless I initiate it) - ‘how was the flight?’
Shit. 

Obviously I didn’t expect him not to know about it.  But I knew exactly what he was saying in that little message, and I know it wasn’t really “how was the flight”, but more along the lines of “yeah I know you flew with someone else today”.  I felt a little guilty - like I had gone behind his back.  But then I got really annoyed - I shouldn’t have to feel bad.  I got stuck, and after three weeks of him trying I knew he wasn’t going to be able to get me out of my own mind funk, so I went and did what I believed would help me, and it did.

This is so important to me.  Yes, I need to be taught.  But at the same time I need to trust that at least some aspects of my training should be taken care of by myself.  If something isn’t working for me, I need to be able to take control and find out what will work.  I can’t just sit back and leave my training entirely in someone else’s hands and hope it works out when I feel like it might not.  This is too important for apathy.

So that’s not cool…

Oh.

I had a cringe moment today.

I stopped in at the flying club on the way home from orientation at my new job at the airport (yay, I’m finally free of The Restaurant!) to see if one of the instructors was around.  I have to go for one of those pesky supervisor flights again, and since the man who taught My Instructor is leaving at the end of the week, I wanted to book him.  I just wanted to ask him first.

I ended up hanging out with TY - one of the other instructors that I have become friends with.  TY set me up for some play time in the new simulator.  He couldn’t figure out how to put me in a C-150, so he coached me through a bit of multi-engine, which was pretty cool.

At one point I messed up a landing so I had to do an overshoot.  I remembered exactly what to do this time - full power, carb heat cold, climb out at 70 and flaps up in stages.  After last week it’s absolutely burned into my goddamn brain.  I did it quite well.

'Hey,' TY said.  'That was a lot better than your last overshoot, good job.'

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot?!

'Oh man,' I replied.  'You heard about that?  What the hell?  I'm gonna kill My Instructor.'

I really might.  I’m a little bit mortified.  I mean, I understand it.  TY explained that all the instructors talk, and since My Instructor is relatively new, he will ask advice for how to explain things to his students and that sort of thing.  So that’s fine, I do understand that side of it.

But at the same time I now have this burning knot of shame and embarrassment in my stomach when I think that all the other instructors have heard about my giant fuckups.  This does not make me feel like the badass pilot I am determined to be.  This makes me feel like a tool.

Shit.

A Letter…

Dear Flygirl,

Do try not to have an emotional meltdown on your poor Instructor today.  He’s a lovely, patient guy, but he’s also a 19 year old guy…  Some chick sobbing with frustration in the plane next to him might prove to be a little much.

Just chill out, you crazy bitch.

Love from,

Your Dignity

Three months

It has been three months today since my first flying lesson.  That seems like such a short time.  But I feel like I’ve been doing this forever!  Absolutely forever.  I can’t believe that my mind is so consumed with aviation.  I try to remember when I didn’t look to the sky when I heard an airplane, and I can’t do it.  That time barely seems to exist.  Three months.  Wow.

I’ve chilled out considerably since Thursday and Friday.  Idled the throttle.  Avoided the flying club for a few days, and kept away from my books.  Generally tried to remain relatively aviation-neutral.  Got a lot of sleep.  Walked away from my boss at The Restaurant when he tried to give me shit for stupid things.  Twice.  (His mood did a 180 and he was being far nicer to me today).  Now I’ve got two days off to look forward to.  I feel better now.

I really thought I might give the flying a miss for the week, but I’ve seriously considered it, and decided to go ahead with my lesson.  I’ve booked my usual time with My Instructor.  Really, skipping a week will only make it harder to remember things when I come back to it.  And I feel confident that I am calm enough and less all up in my head to focus the way I need to.

I need to just relax and get this landing stuff right.  Well… not right, I already have it “right”.  Let’s say “better”.  I need to get better at landing.  Then I will only have to brush up my radio skills and study my butt off for my PSTAR and Radio License tests, and then I can seriously look towards my first solo (when my medical comes in).  Today I was thinking about it, and I really want to go solo.  Soon.  Want want WANT!  NEED even.

I’ve got my one pairing of the month on Saturday-Monday.  It sucks that I only have the one, but hey, one is better than none.  And apparently any ad-hoc charters the Airline may pick up during July should get passed straight to us YOW based girls.  Not that I’m exactly holding my breath there, but still.  I secured the time off with my boss from the Restaurant (via email…we aren’t really on speaking terms this week… the man is like a child), so at least I know I have the time to go.  I only have three serving shifts this week.  This makes me very happy indeed.

Also, I have a blind date tomorrow evening.  I’ve never done that before, and I’m a little nervous, not least because I suspect that the girl who is setting us up doesn’t really know me well enough to have an inkling as to what my type is.  Hmm…wish me luck?  I think?

Spiral Dives

So, I’m having a meltdown.  I’ve been all emotional and twirly and nuts for a few days.  It’s the summer.  It’s always the summer.  This time last year I was flipping out and ended up deciding to move home after quitting my job and crying a lot and becoming absorbed into my guitar.  Let’s hope nothing quite as drastic presents itself this time.  So far all I’ve done is cry and eat an embarrassing amount of chocolate.

I think I need to take a week off from flying.  I hate that I even think I might need to, but the truth is that with my mind all loop like it is right now I’m never going to be able to focus enough to perform the way I need to in a flying lesson.  And if I’m distracted then I won’t do well, and I’ll be mad at myself, and it will spiral.  It’s like a spiral dive.  If I pull up, all I’m going to do is tighten the spiral.  I need to kill the power, then roll the wings level, and THEN I can start climbing again, and add power back when I’m in the green.

So first off, kill the power.  I’m going to try and chill out.  I’ll see how I feel early next week, and if I have managed to mellow out at all, then I’ll go for the lesson.  But if I’m still a bit nutso I really think I might benefit from a slight break.  And there’s really no point in spending a stupid amount of money on a lesson if I’m just going to be too frazzled to learn anything from it.  I love it so much, and it would be really hard to not have a lesson.  But it would probably be a good thing.

Then I need to roll the wings level.  Fix a few other things that I’m dealing with.  Job things.  People things.  Etc.

Then I can start to climb again towards being a badass pilot.

I love analogies.

I’m too cranky to think up a witty title…

I’m having a day of doubt.  I’m Captain Crankypants of the Negativity Ship, and we’re all going down.

Ok, no not really, just me.

Landing is brutal.  I want to be good at it NOW.  Balls to “safe” landings, I can do that, we’ve covered it, I’m safe.  I want the nice landings and I want them now (imagine me stomping my foot like a petulant child at this point, if it helps).  It’s just so hard.  I get the theory.  My Instructor has the patience of a saint, but he keeps repeating the basic idea, and all I can think is ‘Yeah, I get it, but could you crawl into my brain, take over my hands, and let me FEEL how it is supposed to go?’  Because I understand.  Promise.  But I can’t put it into practice.

I nearly asked to give up halfway through my lesson today.  I didn’t - I literally had to bite my tongue.  But I was ashamed of myself for getting so frustrated that I wanted to stop for the day.  That’s not me.  I’m stronger than that.  How could I want to give up on something so easily? 

I’ve been all frazzled for a couple of days now, and I’m not sure why.  I need to chill out though, for real.

Otherwise, my favourite part of the lesson came while I was lining up on runway 25 ahead of Jazz or someone.  I heard them talking to the Tower, and the Tower responded.
‘You are number two, just behind a C-150.  He’s lining up to land on runway 25.  Just slow down and give him about 30kts to clear.’

He.  Him.
Oh man!  Did I switch gender again and forget?!  Oh wait.  Nope, still a girl.  Still got boobs.  Still don’t even sound remotely like a man on the radio.  Come on buddy!

I’m taking my cranky butt to bed now.  Wish me good dreams, and a JULY FLYING SCHEDULE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

Cranky.

I am getting to the point in my training where I can seriously begin to look ahead to my first solo flight.  It no longer makes me giggle nervously.  I told My Instructor that we could discuss my first solo when it no longer had that effect on me, and the other day when he brought up the subject, I didn’t laugh it off.

Several things have to be done first, of course.  I have to write my PSTAR and my Radio License tests, and continue my lessons, perfecting the important things - radio communications, circuit procedures, landings…etc.

I also need to get my Student Pilot Permit all sorted out.  This requires a medical test.  I had the tests all done quite some time ago now.  The doctor who conducted the examination had to send me out somewhere else to get the hearing portion of the test done though.  I pressed upon them the importance that they fax the results to the doctor ASAP.  Twice.  They assured me it had been done, so I left it alone.

I am a fool.

I was getting a little concerned, as I hadn’t heard anything back yet, so on Monday I called the doctor’s office.  The hearing test results were never sent, so my medical information was never sent to Transport Canada for approval.  Oh my effing GOD!

So I called up the hearing test centre and yelled.  Quite a lot.  They have, apparently, now sent everything they were supposed to, so things are in motion again.  But it could be something like another six weeks before I get the results all back!  I am so frustrated right now I can’t even describe it.  I was just warming to the idea of flying solo, and soon!  And now I’m going to have to wait.

I am currently emailing one of the managers at The Airline.  I know they did an aviation medical on me before I got hired, and I’m trying to see if maybe they can forward a copy of those results to me, and I can somehow use them to my advantage in gaining a Student Pilot Permit earlier than waiting for all the new stuff to come back from Transport Canada.

Head, meet desk.