Love of the Mountains – Revisited

I haven’t done any major or “hardcore” mountain flying just yet, but I have done a little. One of my absolute favorite places to go in the Sierra Nevada mountain range (so far!) is the small town of Quincy, CA.

Nestled in a valley at about 3500 feet, it would be what I consider a well-kept secret! I’ve gone in there several times, and always make sure to stop at the Morning Thunder Cafe, which is about a 10 minute walk, 15 if you take in the sites, plane to doorstep.

I even flew in there once on a Father’s day fly-in and got to see a little more than I thought I would! Made my day, my friend’s too!

So if you’re looking for beautiful scenery, small town and feel, and good food (huge portions!), then fly to Quincy (Gansner Field “2O1”)!

Happy Flying,

Up in the Air

 

Originally Written: April 28, 2012

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Flying into a Bad Decision

It doesn’t matter how good you are. Poor decisions will lead to poor results.

Ahh frustration…the deceiving villain that always seems to lurk in the recesses of the mind of a student pilot (pilots too I should say!)…Not very conducive to learning and it always seems to come up when you least expect it.

Weather had been holding my student and I back from completing our cross country for some time. Finally a day came that we thought we could get it done. Weather was reported to be fine, good VFR (Visual Flight Rules) weather.

About half an hour into our flight we came across an ever thickening layer of clouds. Perfect scenario.

“What should we do?”

I was no help. “What do you wanna to do?”

We contemplated back and forth but ultimately he made the right decision despite his desire to continue on. Did his mind let him believe that? Maybe the frustration, as it crept out from between the cracks, wanted to sabotage a perfectly sound decision.

I could tell he was feeling pretty down and I wanted to help cheer him up. “You want to do a little landing practice before we head in?” Like a little more frustration would help…I wish I could go back!

“Sure,” was the not so sure reply.

We changed course to an airport near our home base. 10,000 feet long. How can you go wrong?

  • We overshot final. Three times.
  • We did a go around. Twice.
  • We climbed out on go around 20 knots too fast. Every time.

This was my star student! What happened?… Well partially, I happened.

He was frustrated. I later found out he missed a gathering with friends the night before so he could make the flight at 7am. He had really wanted to go to the party. But that doesn’t matter. As an instructor it’s my job to tell when someone is just not ready for learning. This was bound to be “one of those days” from the moment he decided not to go out the night before. That part can’t be avoided. Had the clouds not been there we probably would have continued on not knowing how close the flight was to a mental disaster.

We flew back to our home airport as if someone had just died; Tip toeing our words around each other for the benefit of the other. No fun. If anything was learned we both learned how quickly things can go downhill.

There was a lot I did wrong on this flight.

  • While the weather reports pointed to good weather I failed to make sure my student was ready to go (as much as I could).
  • I took us from one frustrating event and put us in a situation that can often be the most frustration-producing …landing.
  • I overestimated my students abilities to cope with frustration.
  • I tried to make him feel better (at his expense)…

Remember, as an instructor it’s not our job to make a student “feel” better, it’s our job to show them what they did well and what they need work on. Positive is good but a healthy dose of reality is key. Most of all take responsibility when it’s due…I completely own up to the fact that I alone screwed up the remainder of the flight.

For the students out there:

  • Things will not always go your way, be prepared for it and realize that it’s not just you…and like everyone else you will need to keep working at it.
  • Don’t let frustration get to you, yes I know that’s why it’s frustration but don’t let it own you. Even once you have your license there will be frustrations and you’re going to need to be able to handle them…

Did I miss anything? Let me and everyone else know your thoughts! Comment below and you’ll be helping both me and others improve. Thanks!

Fly safely,

Up in the Air

Customs and Border Protection

I still want to be a helicopter pilot! Is that silly?…well, considering I can’t finance it, yes…but I still say they can do some pretty cool stuff!

Okay, yes I’m a traitor, but to distract everyone from that…here’s a couple pictures of CBP’s (Customs and Border Protection) helicopter in Grand Forks, ND…enjoy!

Cheers,

Up in the Air

Memoirs of a Flight Instructor

Hello to all who stumbled across this, probably by accident!

Memoirs of a Flight Instructor is a blog dedicated to my experiences as a flight instructor. My overall goal is to cater to a variety of readers. Some posts may interest all, and all posts may interest none, but the goal is to help out as many students, instructors, and aviation enthusiasts as possible.

There will be posts from my personal life (not related to flying – but perhaps in some way a life lesson?). Primarily, Memoirs of a Flight Instructor is designed to cover topics that relate directly to aviation such as:

  • Personal stories and experiences related to flying
  • How to break into the aviation industry – “learning to fly”
  • Improving as an aviation instructor
  • Common student questions / concerns

Topics suggestions are always welcome!

For those of you who found this on PURPOSE, you may know of Memoirs of a Flight Instructor from Google’s blogspot.com. I’m trying to decide which place is the better place to host the blog, so here goes my try at wordpress.

Whichever design I like more, I’ll be going with! Let me know what you think too, because that will also play a part in my decision!

Cheers,

Up in the Air