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...

 

Today…

Today I had a brilliant flying lesson.  As in seriously-making-memories-lesson.

But then afterwards I had to say goodbye to My Instructor because he’s got a job with an airline and he’s leaving.  I am SO ridiculously happy for him, and so proud of him and excited!  It’s wonderful news.

However, as far as it applies to me… honestly I’m crushed.  I am going to miss that smart-assed little SOB a lot more than I realised, and I certainly didn’t realise I would feel so emotional about it.  This may sound silly, but I’d probably say he’s the closest thing to an older brother I’ve ever had.  True, we didn’t spend much time together outside of the flying club, and he’s almost four years younger than me, and lord knows to start with it was a little rocky here and there. But in the end we really gelled as a team, and in my opinion it was the perfect combination.  He taught me so much, and gave me so much confidence.  I spent the better part of two years trying to make him proud of me.

I’m not sure if it’s reasonable for me to be all emotional about it… but I am.  There we go.  It’s the end of an era.  I know I talked before about the whole student and instructor relationship and how important it was to me, and today really hammered that home to me.

I’ve already asked another instructor (one I have really enjoyed working with before) to take me on, and he’s agreed, so that’s all good to go, I don’t have to float around from instructor to instructor like a little baby pilot orphan, the way I’ve seen other students do.  Looking on the bright side there.

But just for today I’m being pathetic and sad and feeling a sense of personal loss because My Instructor is no longer “My Instructor”. 

I hope that one day I get the chance to fly with him again, I really, truly do.

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.

My Instructor’s a Smartass…

A few weeks ago I started the program, and I hadn’t flown in two months.  When My Instructor and I went for our first lesson of the term, we did some circuits.  My approaches were a little off, so I was landing a little further down the runway than I usually would.  Not a huge deal, but still not as good as it used to be.

My Instructor decided to give me some helpful hints…

My Instructor: OK, good, but this time try and aim to land at the numbers, OK?

Me:  Aim for the numbers?  What on earth do you think I’ve been doing all this time! Of course I’m aiming for the numbers!!

My Instructor:  OK, then aim for that Tim Hortons 100 yards off before the runway threshold and then maybe you’ll get it right this time.

I really am rather fond of the guy. :)  It’s nice to have someone like that where we can just bounce off of each other a bit.  Makes it more relaxed.

I had a flying lesson this morning (my third only since the start of term…WTF, shitty weather).  It was a little stressful…rain, clouds popping up out of nowhere, and a 20kt crosswind on landing, yeesh!  But it all went relatively well, and My Instructor signed me off to go out to the practice area solo FINALLY!  Hurrah!  I was going to spend tomorrow just doing solo circuits at the airport and ease myself into the solo flying again, but I just saw the weather for the rest of the week and decided it’s tomorrow or nothing - so I’m off by myself tomorrow flying AWAY from the airport for an hour and then coming back!!! Whee!! I’m really excited/really nervous!  But it’s cool!  It’s like I’ve been on training wheels and now they’re coming off!

LOVE flying!

Love love love!

Oh jeeze!

It’s amazing the things I forget to write about in here sometimes!

Well I spent Sunday-Tuesday province hopping for The Airline.  It was quite a good time, although I had to stop the Captain from buying me dinner two nights in a row, because I started to get an idea of what he’s after (and he’s not getting it…).  Lovely guy, but there’s a vibe for sure.  

ANYWAYS.  It was bittersweet because although it was a good pairing, I have a feeling its going to be the last one I take for a while… because….

I START SCHOOL IN JUST UNDER THREE WEEKS!

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, the “Private Student Pilot” gig is no longer working out for me.  If I want to fly more than once a week I need student loans, and to do that I need to be in full time school!  So I applied to college for “Aviation Management” which is a fancy way of saying pilot training.  It’s a 16 month program that starts May 9th, and finishes August 2012.  So by that time next year I should have everything I need to start applying to work as a commercial pilot (Obviously I’ll need to build hours first, but hey, that’s where flight instructing comes in!).

I originally applied for September, but the program coordinator coerced me into the May program. 

I’m ridiculously excited…and also rather nervous.  I have to take MATH!  Wait, scratch that, I can make it even simpler.  I have to be a FULL TIME STUDENT AGAIN! WAH!!  But it’s going to be worth it!

Obviously this is going to be good news on the pilot front - hopefully lots of juicy content there.  However with regards to Flight Attending… well with full time school and fitting as many work hours in there as I possibly can…I’m unlikely to be able to go off Flygirling too often anymore.

I’m pretty sad about that, but on the bright side, in 16 months time I should be a fully licensed commercial pilot.  YES PLEASE!

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!

Pulling out of another spiral dive!

I appreciate that I haven’t been around much lately, and I apologize.  My life went a bit nuts there for a while.  I felt like I was spending every waking moment either working at the airport (I got a full time job as a passenger service rep to keep me going until Charter Season hopefully picks up again), and at the flying club studying my face off.  But I got the results I wanted out of it, and now I want to get back to my beloved tumblr again. So here is a quick update on my life.

  • Got spiky with My Instructor
  • Took lessons with a couple of other instructors until I got my flaring down and started to build up my confidence again.
  • Went back to My Instructor.  Now feel closer to him than before… and no, not like that.
  • Got sick of people suggesting I should date My Instructor.  WTF is wrong with you people?  I don’t fancy him, never would, and it would be about fifteen different types of inappropriate anyway. (NOT directed at anyone on tumblr, just a general frustrated outburst)
  • Fell in love with working at the airport.
  • Found lots of boys to flirt with at the airport.
  • Enjoyed flirting with boys at the airport.
  • Partied with the boys from the Flying Club.
  • Got some boy drama at the Flying Club.
  • Don’t know what to do about boy drama at the Flying Club.
  • Passed all of my pre-solo written examinations.
  • Had a solid ten days of trying to get my last lesson before my solo in and failed thanks to totally crap weather.
  • FINALLY got the lesson done today.
  • Booked my solo for Thursday (I am FINALLY THERE!)

That’s about it for me really in the past month.  I just finally got all of my frazzled issues out of my head for the flying, and got really quite good again.  Now I’m finally going to do my solo on Thursday!  I can hardly believe that the day is here.

I did keep more or less up to date with my blogger account, so if you’re like to see what I have been up to in more detail, then the site is Always Looking Above.

Much love!

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.

Should we eat at the Keg, or Hooters?

I just had a real FA moment.  I literally could not remember what time zone I was in.  It took me forever to remember that  I am now back in Ontario, thus in my own home time zone.  Durr.

I’m not posting much this weekend because I am off and around, having, more or less, a fabulous time.  My layovers have been a bit dull - got in to St John’s really late, so no time for any enjoyment of the city, and I couldn’t for the life of me drag my butt out of bed early enough to complete the hike to Signal Hill that I have wanted to do ever since my first flight out here. 

The firefighters I thought we were moving turned out to be Cadets.  Imagine my disappointment.  Acne-prone teenagers and little kids dressed up in their hats and shiny shoes are nowhere near as much fun as a plane full of firefighters.  Foxtrot Mike Lima.

I got landed with a bitch IFD again.  Ugh.  Her official nickname is “Sweeeeeetheart”, because she has this ridic habit of calling everyone some icky pet name like “honey” or “sweetie” or “darling” and it’s tremendously insincere.  She’s also really touchy in a sickly sweet fake way that makes my skin crawl.  She gave me shit for not answering my briefing questions properly… but really, my defense is that it’s kind of hard to answer a question adequately when she keeps jumping in and telling me I had forgotten things when I hadn’t even got to them yet.  Like fuck, let me finish a sentence and I might actually get it right!

ANYWAYS.  Her aside, the kids were all very well mannered, and the service was one of the easiest I have ever done.  I worked in the back with an FA I have never met, and I liked her a lot.  We worked our butts off, and then we were done.  The last leg of the flight was just ferrying the plane from Greenwood (no, I have no idea where it was) to Hamilton.  The boys let me sit in the flight deck for take off and landing since we were empty, and it made my month!  It was such a great experience.  I’ve done it before, but not since I’ve started my training.  I also got some fabulous photographs, which I fully intended to post this evening, but the hotel computers don’t have a slot for me to put my memory card in.  Sad Flygirl is sad.

I also had a lesson on Saturday morning before I deadheaded out to St John’s (via Toronto…whiskey tango foxtrot?).  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the best either.   I had a wicked crosswind to contend with, which meant that my landings weren’t that great, but still… a bit of improvement I suppose.  I nearly destroyed an overshoot though, which was dumb, because I used to get those perfect.  Oh well, guess I will just have to concentrate a bit more next time!

This evening Princess and I went out for dinner with the pilots.  The other two FAs live here in town, so they didn’t join us.  I enjoyed myself.  The boys were a lot of fun to talk to, although we probably bored Princess because it was aaaall about flying.  They had some lots of advice for me, which I always appreciate.  The First Officer explained landing a different way to me that I’m now itching to try out.  It sounds a little more as though I could do it…less guesswork involved.

For now I’m heading back to my hotel room.  I’m going to curl up in bed with my Aeronautical Information Manual and do some studying before I sleep.  Tomorrow I have to convince the limo driver to take me back to the Hamilton airport so I can retrieve the shoes I left on the plane before he drives us to Toronto to catch our flight home.  Oops?

More tomorrow with pictures!  747 hunting was a tremendous success! 

Kiss Your Personal Space Goodbye in a Cessna

So yesterday was the utter definition of bomb diggity.  My lesson was badass (more or less).  I finally started getting landings right!  Naturally I ended the lesson with two TERRIBLE landings, but the good ones more than made up for it.  I had a wicked crosswind though, and My Instructor said I was leaning into him while trying to control it! HOW HORRIBLY EMBARRASSING!  Once again, the 19-year old boy wonder pilot makes me feel like a lumbering dumbass! 

Oh well.  Life goes on.

After the lesson, I settled myself in the lounge for some study time.  And football watching time.  And socializing time.  It looked as though the entirety of the college program’s students were at the club, and I enjoyed getting to know a few of them.  I have decided that I utterly adore being the token female in a large group of guys.  They are, for the most part, so much fun, and I get to be the center of attention! Hahahaha.  At one point, I asked one of the guys for help finding something in my Aeronautical Information Manual, and the next thing I knew, I had four other guys sitting at my table helping me with my studying.  Happy Flygirl is Happy.

The guys are all excited because the Snowbirds are putting on an airshow in Gatineau this weekend - on Sunday.  Everyone is going - they’re taking buses and flying planes there.  It’s a big deal.  I seem to be the only one who can’t go - I’ve got my one pairing of the month and I leave Saturday afternoon. 

One of the other pilots piped up at this point.  He apparently knows a few of the Snowbirds, and he owns his own Cessna, SO he’s going to give them a call and if they’re in Gatineau on Friday, he’s going to fly me there himself to meet them!  OMG!  I’m soooooo crossing my fingers!  How amazing would that be?!

And then today I somehow found myself tagging along with the Pilots from the college program on a tour of Nav Canada’s hangars.  It was part of a retirement ceremony for one of the Nav Canada’s pilots… I don’t know how or why I was allowed to be included.  It just goes to show that a smile and a friendly attitude can get you anywhere!

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.