Stranded In The Southland

Sunday, June 29, 2008

About Time...

Finally, after so many cancellations that I finally lost count, I managed to do my night cross-country work! This was one of the last big hurtles to getting my private pilot's certificate (along with a solo cross-country and the written test). I'm still kind of shocked.

As I wrote earlier, H. had me take up a different, better plane last week. This week, I asked him if we should take up the new plane or the old one; I just wanted to ensure that we flew in the same plane I'd be doing my solo cross-country in. He seemed to think we should use the old one, since that's what I'm used to.

Or, well, that's what he thought until we got up, and it was running hot (in 80 degree weather, rather than 108 degree weather) and rough. Now, you're always supposed to keep an eye out for a good place to land in case the engine stops -- it doesn't happen very often (and the FAA enforces some fairly strict maintenance rules to try to prevent it from happening), but you're always supposed to be aware.

In this case, my instructor was fussing about the engine the whole way out, coming up with handy observations like, "Gee, if the engine goes here, there's no place to land but that parking lot with all those street lights." Super. So, by the time we got back, I was convinced that I should fly the newer plane.

Unfortunately, I'll have to do a one-hour checkout in that plane so that I can be signed off to solo in it. Argh. I've invested something like 35 hours in this whole exercise; I know people who've taken 100 hours to finally get their ticket, but it's kind of aggravating to be taking so long. I tried so hard to figure out everything and work hard so that I could do it in the minimum number of hours, but so much wacky crap has happened! Of course, from reading other "learning to fly" blogs, it seems like wacky crap happens to everybody, but it's still a shame.

In any case, I hope to take my solo cross country flight soon, in the new plane that shouldn't fall out of the sky (not that the old one really will either, mom). And then we'll see!