Saturday, November 02, 2013

A wondrous BONUS essay from Scholarship Winner Susan!

Susan's post as a Girls With Wings Additional Scholarship Winner: Susan's lessons have been funded in part by the generous donations that people have made to Girls With Wings. Additional Awards were designated to four individuals that showed great promise and dedication. We therefore offered them $250 to help in funding at least a small portion of their flight training. Read more about our scholarship program

This is an extra, very insightful essay that she has sent to us for publication. Anyone who has been her shoes can understand her situation. We often try so hard to do good, then do better, but end up making things worse. Many of us are our own harshest critics. We couldn't fly well with someone yelling in our ear that we were or that was stupid. Yet, sometimes we have those words bouncing around in our heads. The financial pressures of trying to maximize every last dollar certainly doesn't help.

I have had the slowest month in terms of flying this October. I would have loved it to be different but I have opted to swallow the pill as its handed. This has been a true test for me in terms of balancing how often I can fly with how much I have at hand to pay and also keeping up with my college classes. I think my training at some point was suffering from it.

Two weeks ago, my instructor decided to carry out a ‘pre-mock check ride’ before passing me off to go for a mock check ride with another instructor. I was really excited because it could only mean I’m almost done. What started off as a lovely Saturday morning flight soon turned ugly as he started asking me to do simple maneuvers like setting up for slow flight. My mind went blank. That was all I needed to crumble I guess because after that it went straight down south. After a grueling one-hour of failed maneuvers (as that’s all I can call them) we started heading back and he asked me to do a short field landing. Finally! Something that I had been working on recently, that I could easily recall. I did a somewhat okay attempt but nothing to get applause for. What I had thought would be my redemption did nothing of the sort. I taxied back to the ramp practically in a daze. I could hear what he was saying but my mind was just not there with him. For once, I have to admit, I didn’t enjoy my flight.

It’s really nice to have an understanding instructor because he could tell that I was really beating myself up in my head. During the debriefing, it took all my strength to fight back tears as we went through the whole flight. Trying to listen and understand where and why I went wrong on some of the maneuvers. I’m amazed at how I did it. I just remember he finished it off by saying ‘Put it all behind you and now focus on what’s needed from here on now’. At that time it didn’t hit home. I drove all the way home with tears rolling down my face. I had disappointed myself. I guess there’s nothing worse than that. It’s easy to point fingers when someone else wrongs us but it really sinks your gut when you fail yourself.

I chose to share this moment because it has helped make a turnaround in my flight training and has made me focus on items in my life that needed to be looked into and were somewhat creeping in and affecting my flight training. I have been working with deadlines all the time and my flight training was slowly becoming like the dreaded homework. How did that happen? I guess its because of how it was dragging on and truth be told I was not seeing the results I wanted which is the certificate. and why is that? Because I was not able to fly as often as I’d want to in order to finish. I could go on and on with the reasons that popped up but honestly there was no excuse.

How does this relate to the moment I shared you may wonder? I can try summing it up in one sentence. My focus on the final was killing the joy of the ride. I was so focused on finishing and the financial aspect of what’s needed to finish that I was actually not focusing on the beauty of now and what’s needed to get there, that is the finish (which I have since stopped looking at it in that perspective).

Last week was the first time I flew since the last moment that I shared and my flying was as different as night and day. We went out again to the practice area near Johnson County Executive airport with my instructor to check if I had done my homework on going through the maneuvers and procedures. I cannot say I was perfect but I was a confident pilot who had prepared before hand. I had to push back that bad flight to the back of my mind. It hit home, I put it all behind me. But that bad flight was needed to bring to light what I needed to focus on. That is the now and the beauty of every single time I take to the sky. No matter how staggered the flight sessions may be. The now is very important. To be fully engaged with taking every single day as it comes is how I’ve decided to move forward in all aspects of my life for now.

As I prepare for my mock check ride, I’m in a better position as a student pilot. To ease my jitters, I look forward to it as another learning experience and not a ‘badge obtaining’ moment. That’s my new line of thought in terms of my flight training and I hope throughout my flying career. I am no longer looking for and working towards the final. Who knew that this flight training would be a life changing experience as well? I am coming to learn new ways and perspectives of viewing things in other aspects of my life as well. Failure would at one point cripple me but now it’s another learning experience to make me better than before. I am becoming a stronger person who quite frankly really relies on a lot of hope for the next beautiful day and what new opportunity it may bring for me. I am working towards learning something new to add to my flying experience every time I fly as I enjoy it like the first day I took to the control wheel in the aircraft.

On a lighter note, I got to tour the New Century Control Tower earlier this week and before we went up the tower we had to go through the hangar. Oh my!! The beauty we saw!! The Chinooks!!A pleasant surprise for my classmates and I as our faces lit up like it was Christmas.

All in all, I pray that my next post will be about my oral exam and check ride. I am honestly looking forward to writing about that and sharing that experience with you all. This platform that Girls With Wings has provided me with has found some new meaning in my heart. I thank the organization for not only giving me the scholarship but also a platform to voice my thoughts and rollercoaster emotions during this journey of mine. I hope it will motivate someone else. Thank you. Happy flying in the month of November! 

Thank you for sharing this with us, Susan. And don't think that what you are going through is an "excuse." You are working, studying, and training to become a pilot. That's a lot! And every once in a while you need to step back and look at the big picture again, which I think you have. As you say, "be fully engaged with taking every single day as it comes." And remember:

You. Can. Do. This.

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