BFR Update

Just over two years ago, I got back into flying after a 12 year break. I questioned how I would keep active in flying. I did a few of good trips. That adds up to 4. Otherwise I kept to the local area and just kept current.  Well, there was those few months when I did some instrument training.

Here it is July  2013. My medical expired this past May. My BFR was due in June. Will I get current again? What happened to my dedication to keep current?

Yes, I will get current again. I intend to do so before the end of the year. I was going to say “before October” or “before Labor day”. I need the extra time to allow me to meet the goal.

Now to the second question: my dedication is still there. My BFR after 12 years took about a month. This one should be shorter.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dealing with let down

I was originally assigned to a flight line unit and then found out last weekend that I was supposed to be in the a backshop unit (hanger). In the new unit, I will be assigned to a shop that does work I haven’t done before. It’s not the work I was wanting to do but this is what fate assigned to me. There is a struggle in ones life to accept what hand you are dealt and what you really want to do. A patient person knows they can do both and will be better for it. I’ll have experiences that others won’t have and could be more versatile and useful as my career (Military and Civilian) continues to evolve. The point is to not burn bridges with people and understand that I’m in a job that I do not know very well. Therefore, my objective is to learn what I don’t know in order to help me make future decisions regarding items I cannot see now.

Posted in Uncategorized

A new year and new adventures

A few months have gone by and a lot has been going on. I suspended my Instrument training in November (mentioned previously). The main reason was I had too much going on in my personal life. The lessons weren’t being productive. Even though I was flying the sim and as a EAA member the sim time cost me nothing, just the cost of the instructors time, I did not have the mental focus to prepare the lesson and do a proper debrief. At other times in my life I may have been depressed about that. The last part of 2012 was a real test to determined if I learned how to prioritize what I want and then be comfortable with the outcome. 

I really want to be an instrument rated pilot. At this time though, I really wanted to get back into the Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard. That goal is something I had thought about for about 3 years. Two or three years ago, it didn’t seem like the right thing for me. I was out of shape physically and the retraining to get my old job back was too great with my kids who were between the 3rd and 6th grades. I also want to be a CAP pilot. After going to airshows a couple of times a year, I would reflect on being a tourist looking at the Military aircraft. I don’t like being a tourist.

At Sep 2012 at the California Capital Airshow in Mather, CA, I watched the Thunderbird Crew Chiefs assist with the engine start and aircraft launch. I used to do that job. Not with the Thunderbirds but in the KS Air National Guard. I decided then, I wanted to get back in.

I began running, doing sit-ups, and pushups. All the exercises I hate. I met with the Recruiter, did the over 40 physical and the long process of getting my records retrieved for my prior Service. On Dec 4, 2012, I took the Oath of Enlistment. I had my first UTA a couple weeks ago. I recently got my Military ID. I still don’t have uniforms. That will come in time.

I was a Crew Chief back in the day when I was active duty and ANG. Since I had been out for so long (17 years), to get my old job back, I have to the take the Crew Chief Tech school again. All Crew Chiefs go through the same school for the first 6 weeks. It’s the fundamentals of aircraft maintenance and learning the Air Force way for maintenance paperwork. Yes things change over time. At my first UTA a couple weeks ago, I spoke with a couple of guys who just finished Tech School. I asked them about what they learned and asked if certain items were still taught. After the discussion it seems that time and money would be best spent to do a little OJT and skip the first 6 weeks.

The second part of Crew Chief school is airframe specific. My AF Reserve unit operates the C-5. That aircraft is new to me and I fully agree, I need to go to that school. It is another 6 weeks. 

I ordered some study materials for the Crew Chief 5 skill level and read them and the Technical Orders I can find online to refresh my memory and bring me up to speed on procedures. If my unit feels I still need both schools, I’m prepared to do that. I should do well in Tech School after the studying I’m doing.

I’m really looking forward getting past the new guy phase and being a functional member of the unit. Why the break in service? I’ll save that for another day. For now, I’m only looking ahead.

Posted in Uncategorized

Taking a break

I’ve suspended my instrument flying lessons. A not too uncommon experience I understand. I don’t have my log book in front of me but I did fill two pages with entries of instrument lessons. 

The summer went well. My family typically takes off for various destinations which leaves me to have the house and time to myself. This allowed me to fly 2 days week and some times 3. In August with the start of school for the kids, CAP events through the first part of October and a big project at work, it became difficult to get up once a week.  When I did fly I wasn’t prepared. I hadn’t studied what I would be doing during the lesson. My instructor and I transitioned to the simulator to reduce costs and allow for more productive discussion. The sim provide some benefit but I didn’t find it as productive as it could have been. Life was distracting me too much.

I’m not surprised at my need for a break. The desire for the rating is there. My lifestyle and commitments just aren’t aligned to support intensive focus and study.

Prior to beginning instrument training, I developed a plan to fly enough to remain “VFR comfortable”. It involved taking a day off work to go fly. I didn’t need this plan so much while doing instrument training. Here it’s a day after Thanksgiving, I have the day off, and a plane is available.  The weather is good. Seems like the right combination of factors to implement my alternate plan.

Posted in Uncategorized

Instrument rating – Lesson 1

Last night I had my first official instrument flying lesson.  It went quite well. It was interesting that is was also my first night landing in over 13 years. That went well too. I was looking for an opportunity to practice night landings with an instructor. I’ll be getting about one of those a week for the next couple of months.

While I did do some instrument flying with an instructor in May, it wasn’t with this instructor or intended to be something to sign off from the syllabus.

I started the instrument ground school in mid April. I haven’t kept up with the studying too much. I watched many of the King videos recently. The final stage exam is Monday. I’ll put the nose in the book a bit this weekend. If I pass it will be by a slim margin. I probably won’t take the actual written until late July or into Aug.

I’m excited and want to not have this rating linger. I’ll put up a page that tracks my instrument training hours like I did for the BFR. Might take me a week or so to get that up.  Right now I’m at 1.3 hours flight and 2 hours ground.

Posted in Flying | 1 Comment

Flight to the mountains

I went on a trip with an instructor to Truckee (KTRK) and South Lake Tahoe (KTVL) from Placerville (KPVF) earlier this week. We left about 9:30 am and arrived back at KPVF just before noon. No time to stop and visit. Just taxi back and takeoff. I wanted to get my 3 takeoffs and landings in, fly some cross country and mountain flying with an  instructor and do a couple of approaches. I don’t know think the individual legs were long enough to count as a cross country but it was long enough to plan for an airport out of my normal area. It didn’t officially start my instrument flight training but I wanted to do an approach to get my interest going in pursuing the ticket. There was a lot of work and the use of the VOR’s, GPS, and autopilot make me appreciate the need for as many hours as the rating requires.

The pieces of the plan are coming together. Creative financing will help pay for the rating. Now I just need to dedicate the time. I’ve read a lot and watch a few video’s about choosing an instructor. I’ve never found those very helpful. As long as the instructor has a positive attitude, it really boils down to who can I manage schedules with the best.  I’ll fly with another instructor (who’s schedule may work best) just to verify we don’t have obviously different perspectives.  There is vacation time to deal with in June. Then in July, I think it’s time to get serious.  Monday and Wednesday evenings and maybe a weekend here or there.

That’s my story and I’m going to change it to meet conditions as necessary.

Posted in Flying

I’ve been working on a plan

I’ve been taking an instrument ground school for the past 4 weeks or so. It has been a good feeling to get into the training mode. Kid and Civil Air Patrol stuff have been time consumers. I took a stage exam last night at the end of the class. I feel id did about a 70% but won’t know until next week (maybe sooner).

I developed a plan to remain VFR current: take a day off once a month (probably first Wednesday) and dedicate that to going to the airport and at least getting three takeoffs and landings.  Tomorrow isn’t the first Wednesday but it is the first time I’ll take off to go fly. I’m going with an instructor since it has been since MLK day since I flew. I hate that statement. Never again I say.

I’ve also decided to pursue the Instrument rating with focus and passion. There are pros and cons but here is why:

  • I need to get proficient (not just current). Might as well get a rating.
  • The place I rent from just raised their rates. Not unexpected. It won’t get cheaper.
  • I want to open doors. Maybe a CFI rating someday? Instrument rating is required.
  • There are places I want to fly to that can be fogged in. I want flexibility.
  • When I dreamt of flying as a kid, it was also about flying jets. I may not get that jet rating but an instrument rating would be required. This would be a step toward the dream I wish was reality.

That last point was what sealed the deal. Critics would argue that if I find it hard to remain VFR current now, remaining IFR current to fly into or out of a place with fog will be even harder. True, maybe some trip will have to be by VFR. However, the feeling of achieving a dream can’t be taken away.

Posted in Flying