Friday, December 30, 2005 

Once Again

The planners have finally assigned me to a new check instructor. This whole fiasco has cost me almost two weeks of advancing through the program. My new check instructor is another senior instructor (just my luck that I get them for my checks, one out of ten chance and I get them both times!) Not much information on him. I know he's a nice guy on the ground but people change in the air. Two of my friends are under him, one says he's ok, the other says he's a horror to fly with. In the end, I've learned my lesson and will just ignore the instructor.

It's still fun to have friends invite me to do things that I can't do due to religion or prinicpals.
"Hey dyou wanna follow us?" W said as he burst through my door.
"We're going to go to Hog's Breath for some steak and beer!" he excitedly explained as I query our destination.
I stared at him and remained silent as I let his words sink in.
"Oh shit, yeah, you don't eat steak or drink beer! Why don't you damnit?!" I just smiled and watched him close the door and I got back to my reading.
I haven't flown for two days waiting for my check. I won't fly for another three days because I need to be scheduled for a check and I don't have any loose sorties to complete. While waiting I finally got round to reading the Da Vinci Code, The Curious Incident of a Dog at Night, and I'm going to start on Angel's and Demons. I've also gone to a jazz clubs and cafes to fill up my time. I get bored too easliy. I haven't had a holiday in two years now and it's starting to grate on me. The problem about days here are that I need to be instantly available if anything comes up. I was at prayers near downtown Perth, when Operations called to assign a check instructor for me today. That's the biggest reason why I can't go gallivanting to my hearts content even though I know I won't fly for the next few days. I need a really really long drive somewhere. Far far away from my colleagues and work.

Monday, December 26, 2005 


I failed.

I failed my phase check.

The moment I found out who was going to be my check instructor I started to put undue stress on to myself. Notoriously known as someone who is very procedural with very high standards and is unforgiving. As my roommate said, "I've never seen you put so much effort into flying before." Usually I'd just look at the map, draw out my route, make some mental notes of control zones and prominent features to look out for and that's it. Takes about half an hour. For my check, I went through everything I could think of. Eventually I just made myself a bit confused as I found discrepencies between the college's standard procedures, what various instructors told me to do, and civil aviation law.

On the day itself I felt fine, just a bit numb. This is how I feel like when there's stress. Over the years, I've managed to block out a certain level of stress. What I didn't know was, it gave me tunnel vision, and narrowed my thinking to just accomplish one thing at a time. This is bad when flying.

Departing the airport, he commented that I was drifting slightly into control airspace. I was thinking this is the normal route I take with my instructor. As we reached the top of climb for my first leg, I started my checks, as I got to my second item, I noticed I haven't set my new heading and turned towards my new track. Cursing myself, I changed the heading bug and flew the plane towards my new destination. As I was going through the rest of the checks, I managed to get a fixed position of where we were. Saw that we were two nautical miles off track. Thought nothing of it since it was a small deviation, I'd finish off my checks, get another fix and correct my heading. Five minutes later, "OK, that's it, I have control, we're turning back."
I was stunned. "Why?"
"What heading are you supposed to fly?" he asked me.
"127 sir"
"Yeah, but you set it to 137, and you were off track and didn't do a 1 in 60 to fix it up"
"Sir, I was going to take another fix and get back on track in another five minutes at the next ten minute marker"
"Yyeaahh, not gonna happen. You made two big mistakes, your heading and you didn't do corrections."
As I was argueing with him that that wasn't fair, since he at least could test me on LOST procedures, he flew us back to the airport.
He commended me for wanting to show him that we could still go on as most cadets just slump and give up when he tells them they failed.

Back in college, people were saying that it really wasn't fair, that he turned back so early. Then again, I did let my nerves get to me. I know I could have gotten us back on track if he let me. Other cadets had worse tales of their phase check and yet still passed under other instructors. It irks me, but it's just a small hiccup along the way. I know I'll pass my next attempt. This is just a lesson learned. I'm not someone who does well when he over prepares. I do better when I say "To hell with it, I'll just fly"

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 

Phase Two Check

Almost a month since I last posted anything. Among the things that happened were;
  • my friends being sent back due to not being able to show the performance wanted by the sponsor
  • bad weather that has pushed my progress back by a couple of weeks
  • fun nav flights into savanah type areas
I am now up for another phase check. The Phase Two check will see whether I have what it takes to navigate visually properly. This will comprise of, flying the plane safely, navigating properly, and communicating with other stations responsibly. Seems quite easy, but flying over thousands of acres of fields make it very hard to find out your position. We're also tested on procedures, and emergencies, such as engine failure and diversions from your path. Some instructors will also intentionally get the student lost to see how they find their way back.

I love this phase actually. Navigating to other airfields gives me a great thrill. Even though it's practically flat and brown out there, there are some unique and interesting feature such as the salt lakes. They're now quite dry and they just stick out as big round white discs in a sea of brown. There are also several notable hills and large cities. What aids us the most (well at least myself) are the wheat silos. Huge white buildings that points out where there is civilization. You can see these markers gleaming white from as far away as forty kilometres.

Wish me luck with this next check.

Wagin Airfield next to a Salt Lake.
Wagin town is on the top left.
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