Thursday, June 20, 2013

Amber's Second Essay as the GWW Private Pilot Scholarship Award Winner!

Amber is a recipient of a Girls With Wings Spring Scholarship Award.  Girls With Wings offers a Private Pilot Scholarship to help defray the cost of flight training lessons in pursuit of a private pilot certificate. This scholarship is targeting those individuals who have soloed but have not completed the Private Pilot Course.  The Private Pilot Scholarship is an award in the amount of $1000.00. We are acccepting applications for the Summer 2013 Program until June 30th. The funds are raised through contributions from the general public. Please visit our website for more information.

Don’t Forget to Clean Your Windshield!!
First Solo Cross Country - 167 NM
Friday June 7, 2013

I was a bit nervous for this trip. Confident, but respectfully nervous. I still can’t compare my solo cross country to that of the first solo ever. It’s a different experience but not entirely. You have other worries when you take off for a long distance flight. And I say long distance, since I left the actual area I’m learning how to fly in. Just adding more challenges.

The night before, I ate dinner and planned to head to bed early. I’m a huge advocate of getting more sleep than most the night before something big whether it be testing, working, going on a long hike, driving cross country and flying cross country, especially my FIRST cross country flight. If you’re not well rested it will add stress that you do not need. I tried to not think about anything bad for my mini new journey. I checked weather again to see if anything changed. Its thunderstorm time around here and the unstable air has been happening more towards the afternoons so my plan was a morning flight.

I got up the next morning well rested and with a good attitude. Breakfast was over and it was time to head in. Then I started to get nervous, thinking maybe I shouldn’t have drank the two cups of coffee before I headed in to meet my instructor at a coffee place to go over my plans.

My original plans were to take the same route I did for my dual cross country…. But we decided to switch it up a bit. Similar route, but I would head to an airport I haven’t been to yet and by myself…. Oh goodness….. But I had this.

Pushed the plane out and preflighted. Jumped in the plane and went over my checklists again and in the middle of that my instructor took a picture while he was standing outside. I couldn’t believe I was actually going and at the same time felt relieved because I finally was.

I make my taxi call and head out of Sandpoint, Idaho. I work at the airport I’m getting lessons at and had a feeling a few coworkers would be standing outside watching me ….of course they were. I had taken that Friday off for other plans but they fell through and figured the guys would hear me on the radio anyways. So there was no getting away from the audience. So I had to have a great departure.

It was a great takeoff because I remembered to use more right rudder than I normally do. When your instructor isn’t with you it’s as if you think more clearly because you’re not worried what the instructor is thinking about. You’re by yourself!! After taking off and heading East I started to calm down a bit. Except I forgot one thing.

I brought my allergy pills and a bottle of water. I had planned on that for sure because this time of the year my head feels as if it’s about to explode. Not fun when you are flying. But the one thing I forgot…. Didn’t wash the dang windshield!!! I even mentioned the day before to my instructor, I need to do that. It literally bugged me …..

I would have had some great pictures but the huge bug splatters weren’t too appealing in the middle of some of them. But that wasn’t going to stop me from taking them when I could. Half of my flight was extremely bumpy so I was careful in doing so.

On my way to the first stop in Thompson Falls, Montana, I was thinking this isn’t that bad since I’ve been there already. I checked winds and wanted to do a flyby of the runway to be certain the low winds registered were actually low winds. No one was in the sky with me that I could hear or see, so I figured why not? I was on schedule and having fun!

I landed and took off towards my next stop. Plains, Montana. I have never been there before on land or in the air so this time I was getting a little nervous but knew it wasn’t going to be a problem. Flying through the rocky mountainous valley was amazing. It is an entirely different view being next to cliffs you would have to actually rock climb. There was no road to see what I was viewing. My own personal site seeing adventure conducted by me. Excitement wouldn’t even describe it. Plains, Montana was not very far from Thompson Falls. I literally went up and had to start planning on landing soon.

It took me a couple minutes to spot it. Things look a tad different in person than just looking at a map. Once again no one was is the air with me. I was shocked since it was such a lovely morning but enjoyed the open skies all to myself.

I landed and decided to take a small break. I pulled off the runway. Everything was going great and I sent a picture to my boyfriend and let my instructor know I was heading back soon. I was ecstatic!! And then it started to get warm on the ground. It was time to go.

On the way back I couldn’t realize how easy the trip was. I felt confident enough and was glad I went. As I was coming around a small mountain entering the lake I heard another female in the sky inbound for landing too. It was very encouraging to hear even though she had no idea how I felt about it. She didn't know I was on my first solo cross country. She didn't know I just came from an airport I landed at and had never been to before. She had no idea she helped me in my home stretch towards Sandpoint. So I continued making calls to area traffic. It's encouraging to hear another woman doing what some say we "shouldn't" do. That doesn’t matter. What matters is I’m doing what I love.

I can’t wait to do my next solo cross country. My instructor was right, I would have fun. As I came into my landing I noticed my fellow coworkers again outside watching. Luckily I was on the end that was a bit more difficult to see from the shop. It was a bit rough and winds were picking up. I was glad to be back. Once I got back to the planes’ hangar I realized by body was still in flight mode. All the bumps and jumps in the plane were still happening to me. I made it home!!

It’s really good to be nervous about new things. Just don’t let that scare you from finishing up what you started. Fly on!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Najla's First Essay as the Dreams take Flight Scholarship Award Winner!

Najla is the recipient of our 2013 Spring Scholarship Program Dreams Take Flight Award. Please see her application essay here and read about the Summer Scholarship Program. We will be accepting applications until June 30th, 2013. Our scholarships are funded by direct contributions from people like you!

"My experience as a student pilot has been an adventure. Learning to fly presents many frustrating challenges as well as enthusiastic accomplishments. My flight lesson on May 18th captured those two aspects as I landed the plane for the 1st time after numerous unsuccessful attempts.

5/18/2013 Before my lesson began today, my flight instructor told me we would be staying in the traffic pattern to work on landings….AGAIN. I have been working on landings for the past three weeks now. It has been a trying task to complete but I am determined to see it through. I had done well in the basic maneuvers, such as climbs, stalls, turns, etc., so now I just needed to land the aircraft proficiently in order to solo. We took off on runway 33 and the winds were light and variable. As we flew upwind, I had complete control of the plane while my instructor observed with a careful eye. I turned onto downwind, leveled off at traffic pattern altitude, and requested the option from ATC. They cleared me for the option and I began my descent with 10° of flaps extended. I then turned onto base and put in 20° of flaps while still maintaining sole control of the aircraft.

Now onto the final leg; my 30° of flaps were in and I’m just atop the runway. My instructor tells me to level off but it was too late. My nose wheel hit the ground with a thud and bounced. My instructor quickly recovered before we went into a porpoise affect. The 2nd & 3rd attempts at landing resulted in me leveling off too soon and almost taking off instead of landing due to ground effect. I guess the 4th time was a charm because I landed perfectly with no help from my CFI. As I was right over the tarmac on final approach, I looked straight down the runway, had the desired site picture in view and leveled off. I glanced in and out of the cockpit between the airspeed indicator and the end of the runway. The airspeed began to bleed off and the stall warning horn sounded. The main wheels landed softly on the runway just before the nose wheel. I gave out a quiet ‘Yes” to myself and then remembered to breathe. I had finally landed the plane after many hours of practice, practice, practice. This was definitely one of the greatest moments in my flight training and most exciting achievement of a lifetime.

Currently, my landings are continuously improving and I have my solo stage check evaluation next week." 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

It's a small, small world with BIG, BIG news.

By now many of you have probably noticed that I, the founder and Executive Director of Girls With Wings, also known as Lynda Meeks, am posting, tweeting and making other such updates via social media with a strange location tag. That of Hong Kong.

It is true that I have moved to the other side of the planet, but I have no intention whatsoever of not continuing with Girls With Wings. In fact, we are right now in the process of accepting applications for our Summer Scholarship and are posting blog entries from our Spring Scholarship Program winners. Our website is still going strong (we will even begin a transition to our new one soon).

We are also proud to announce that we have a new membership chair, Lori, who has been working diligently to improve our member program. She has been able to find other organizations willing to offer our members discounts with their programs - to be announced soon (let us know if you'd be interested in doing the same). As I have mentioned before, our Pilot Shop was just not financially feasible as it was and we needed to rethink our products and how we offer them. Lori has been getting in touch with current and future members to keep them on board by finding out what is important to them. If you are not a member, visit the sign up page here. You'll start receiving our newsletter so we can keep you posted.

The biggest downside to my relocation is that I will be limited on the events that I can attend. I sadly did not make Sun n Fun and will not make the AOPA Summit or Oshkosh - but I understand the Ninety Nines - an organization of Women Pilots - will be taking over the booth space that we've had for the past few years. This should help continue to promote the mission! We also were not able to do our Aviation Inspiration Day over Memorial Day Weekend near Minneapolis, MN. Next year we will resume all of this and more!

I do fully intend to not only maintain Girls With Wings but also to grow it. Currently we are seeking grant funding for a mentorship program - we will need your help to make this a success! We will of course continue with our scholarships, website, and other outreach activities.

As far as what I'm doing over here in Hong Kong, I am in training to be an Airbus Simulator Instructor for a major airline.  [For those of you who know your cockpits - this is actually the 747 sim used for the interview.] I'm pretty excited about the prospect of teaching people to fly an airplane I've never flown myself. Learning The Fly by Wire technology in the Airbus is quite daunting but the candidates going through their training are truly impressive. They are very hardworking and can usually quote chapter and verse in the series of manuals they need to know to get into the right seat with the airline.

It is because of all of this technology I hope my stay in Hong Kong will be somewhat invisible to the supporters of Girls With Wings. Other than a 12 hour time difference with my home state of Ohio, I should be able to continue making dreams take flight!