Sunday, September 01, 2013

Caylee's First Post as the Girls With WIngs Private Pilot Scholarship Winner!

Congratulations to Caylee who has resumed her flying lessons thanks in part to the generous donations that people have made to Girls With Wings. The Private Pilot Scholarship is to help defray the cost of flight training lessons in pursuit of a private pilot certificate. This scholarship, an award in the amount of $1000.00, targets those individuals who have soloed but have not completed the Private Pilot Course. Read more about our scholarship program.

Caylee's Essay:

On August 22 it had been 1 year, 2 months and 19 days since my last flight on June 3, 2012. But who was counting? 

I was scheduled to fly at 5:30 so I sat at work anxious and nervous all day. 

But I’d already had 32 hours of flight experience, why was I so nervous? I’d soloed twice, talked on the radio plenty of times, performed cross wind landings and overcome motion sickness. 

I reminded myself of this all day long, recounting my favorite flights and the feeling I got when I had a great landing. The nerves continued as I repeated positive affirmations in my mind. “Why be nervous when you can be excited.” “You’re only nervous because you care so much.” “You’ve done this plenty of times before and you will be fine.” In the back of my mind I knew I would do fine. I am good at staying calm and doing what I need to do despite being nervous but the “what ifs” kept creeping into my mind. What if I wouldn’t be good at flying any more, what if I wasn’t going to get along with my new instructor, what if I got motion sickness again, what if I just didn’t love it after being away for over a year. 

I walked into CT Flight Academy like I had done dozens of times before and waited for instructions. I knew some things had changes since I last flew so I was told to grab the weight and balance and P.A.V.E. checklists. With a quick refresher the weight and balance was out of the way. The P.A.V.E. (Pilot, Aircraft, EnVironment, and External Pressures) checklist was something I’d never seen before. It gave me the opportunity to review my previous experience and I realized that I have done 120 take-offs and landings and I have 32 hours of flight time. It eased my doubts and I was glad that my new instructor was letting me take my time. Part of me thought that because I have flown before that my instructor would just throw me in the plane and send me off. I know that is irrational but when you’re nervous everything comes to mind. 

The pre-flight was a little rushed for my taste but soon enough I was back on the radios and we were taking off. I was glad that most of my skills came right back. They may not have been totally refined but they were there and I didn’t forget everything. We performed straight and level flight, slow flight, and turns all while I reveled in the view of the city of Hartford and the surrounding towns from above. There were a few low clouds that we flew through quickly, something I’d never done before either. It gave me a small sense for what instrument training will be like. We’ll deal with that when I get there. We made our way to Meriden-Markham airport which is un-towered. I called out my positions on the radio and landed. I was proud of my landing after having not done it for a year and I felt that having done over 100 landings I had the muscle memory. 

As we taxied back to runway 18 a small fox ran beside us on the grass next to the runway. At that moment I had an epiphany. Flying is supposed to be fun! Obviously I always knew that, but my first time around flying I put a lot of pressure on myself. I didn’t want to disappoint my dad, a helicopter pilot, or any of my fellow 99’s who were all rooting for me. Over the past year I’ve been able to reflect and I know I have to fly for myself and do the best I can. My fellow aviators will be supportive no matter what. 

I performed a short field take off and we headed back to Hartford-Brainard. After contacting ATC I performed another landing to be proud of and the flight was over. 

Overall, I had nothing to worry about! My instructor, Guillermo, and I got along great and I can’t wait to continue flying with him. My skills came back pretty quickly so I should be able to move along with training pretty quickly. 

Aside from actually flying I have been enrolled in ground school as well. I’ve been working hard to study and plan to take my written in mid-September. I can read sectionals and plan a cross-country but I need to work on memorizing airspace, weather and differentiating between the different weather charts. 

I’m very excited for what this coming semester will bring. I will be back in graduate school full time, finishing my thesis and flying. The combination of studying is sure to be strenuous but I’m excited for the challenge. 

On another note! I’m running the CT Chapter 99’s booth at the upcoming

Simsbury Fly-In on September 15 from 8am-3pm. If anyone is in the area come stop by and say hello! 

Read Caylee's scholarship application. 

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