IFR (Instrument)Training

Now that I’ve passed the written test, it’s time to get hours behind the yoke. When I got my license it was a little bit of a run around, I’d make the $1,000 mistake. One time I didn’t get checked out because of my radio/ATC call outs. I asked him, “What should I have said?” He told me, I replied, “That’s exactly what I said.” Really, it started coming down to that kind of catch 22 for the unicorn signature. Another CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) wanted me to fly in the perfect pattern when my pattern work was always spot on, it came out of nowhere after some great landings.

What I ended up doing was joining a flying club and got my ticket in 2 weeks after walking out of a “school,” totally done. You don’t want to be too adamant that they’re ripping you off, because it is flying, and if you truly suck then that’s a very dangerous attitude to have. It wasn’t until a CFI told me I had to start from scratch that I finally walked out.

A little background on that, the place I started was a Part 61 that merged into a Part 141 without my knowledge of what a Part 141 was, since by then I was just practicing for my check ride. They merged AGAIN without my knowledge and I was completely lost in that whole shuffle…to the point where I got a phone call that I had a new student.

Anyway, it’s a long and boring story that’s mostly forgotten. Once I got my license it all changed. Now I have a lot of pilot friends, it’s been great.

For my IFR training, my CFI is only 22 years old and was hired by the airlines pre-COVID. He was sent home his first week of training in March. He needed 400 hours once he got hired last year, I figured it was a good time to get trained in the retractable RG plane and get him those hours. Once he was sent home, I decided to go ahead and get IFR to keep him working.

Choosing a CFI for this seems crucial, you spend A TON of time with them. Yesterday we spent the whole day together flying an actual foggy approach to Half Moon Bay for lunch, then an actual out of the fog to Modesto. In that I’ve been very fortunate that he’s younger than my boys, and he’s not part of a school where he has to be back in 2 hours for his next student to get revenue from the plane too. Most of the CFI’s from the schools I went to had married a former student, that’s how much time you spend with them.

I’m safe with a 22 year old!! Plus we get along well There was one instance that I got confused from a controller vector, almost wanting to go the other way. He calmly showed me to just use the heading indicator to get that heading, then turn. One of those, “It’s the other left” incidents that would have been the $1,000 mistake at the schools I went to. You’re afraid to say, “I don’t know” to some CFI’s cuz it’ll cost you.

We’ve been wearing masks, just over our mouths because having it over my nose sometimes fogs up my glasses and blocks a little bit of vision for landings. I made one a little loose so I get enough oxygen.

If nothing else, I’m becoming a better pilot throughout all of this. It’s so thrilling going through the fog! Yesterday was about 1,000′ of fog. It took a lot longer than when we went through the fog at Watsonville a few weeks ago, I can see how you could freak a little. I stayed calm, when you pop out and see the runway right there it’s very cool. In any other area it’s possible to get IFR without ever entering actual conditions.

If I wasn’t doing this things would be pretty dull. No vacations, mask up to deal with the public or to go anywhere. It’s easier to just stay home instead of dealing with people or lack of bathrooms. I’m OK with the stay home days now, mostly because spending the whole day flying is pretty exhausting for me.

Route to Half Moon Bay: Fog from La Honda to the “y” in Bay.
Half Moon Bay, this guy flew in IFR no problem

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