Thursday, June 19, 2014

Another update from Deborah, An Advanced Rating Scholarship Winner!

This is the second journal entry provided to us by Deborah Katvala, who was selected for an Advanced Training Scholarship within The Girls With Wings 2014 Scholarship Program to help defray the cost of flight training lessons in pursuit of an Advanced Rating or Certificate such as instrument rating, commercial pilot certificate, flight instructor certificate, instrument flight instructor certificate, multi-engine rating or multi-engine flight instructor certificate. This new scholarship award is in the amount of $1000, funded by the generous donations from supporters of Girls With Wings, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Deborah's application essay is published here and her first essay here.

Hello all! I just finished my longest cross-country to date! I successfully flew from 16X (near Dallas Fort Worth) to MDQ (Near Huntsville) and back during a two day trip in a Cessna 152! During those two days I put 17.2 hours on the Hobbs mostly due to a 14 knot headwind on the way back. I accomplished many firsts and learned several great lessons on this fun and eventful trip!  I was also able to check off of my list several of the requirements for my instrument and commercial ratings! 
Let’s start with the way out there. I planned the flight out there as my commercial day cross-country. Due to the length of the trip I had to plan several fuel stops along the way. I tried to pick places with inexpensive (relatively) fuel and available services in the off chance we had any sort of problem. I settled on CDH (Camden, Arkansas) and PMU (Batesville, Mississippi). On the day of departure I woke up early to find that most of the trip out was showing IFR weather until later in the morning, so I delayed my departure by two hours. As the heat of the day started to burn off the low overcast, the airports along the route started trending toward nice VFR weather. The two hour delay ended up working out perfectly in terms of the weather. Finally I was headed to the airport to start the long awaited trip with the first crisis handled! 

I arrived at the airport to find the airplane out of the hanger and all ready to go! David, the owner of the plane, was nice enough to have it all fueled up and ready with a fresh oil change and two extra quarts in the back just to be safe. He also let me use his portable GPS with datalink weather, which would prove to be very useful in the hot summertime weather. I did my usual preflight checks taking special care to make sure everything was working just right seeing as how I was taking the airplane so far from it’s home. After a brief discussion with David about the route, weather and destination, we decided all was well so I got in and off I went! The run-up, takeoff and departure all went as planned and I climbed up to 5,500 feet for the reduced fuel burn and cooler temperatures. A couple hours into the flight I encountered my next crisis. As I was cruising along my window latch came loose and the window popped open! I had a surge of my old fear of heights as I reached out to pull my window back in. Luckily, we were flying level and the airplane was trimmed out so I could figure out how to keep my window closed. Thankfully I always have hair ties on my wrist and used one to hold the window latch to the door. This was another lesson in remaining calm and thinking through what you can use that you currently have available to solve a problem. If my hair tie hadn’t worked the next step would have been landing and finding some rubber bands or string. Second crisis handled! 

 My flight out to MDQ after that went as planned! My fuel planning went as scheduled and the stops at CDH and PMU were uneventful. As the flight progressed the heat that had burned off the overcast earlier was now starting to cause some cumulous pop up clouds. For most of the remainder of the trip I had to fly left and right of my original course avoiding the clouds and taking care not to enter any special airspace. It made the trip even more fun!

We stayed the night in Huntsville and went to the Space and Rocket Center the following morning where I felt so inspired. I spent three years working at Challenger Learning Centers teaching aerospace and this museum brought back a lot of amazing memories! I’ll talk about the return trip in my next update. Until then, Fly safe! 

Essays about flight training from the other awardees will be published here as they are received.

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