I started at the RIC location two weeks ago from zero time, and wanted to give a quick update for anyone looking into the program and wondering what to expect. These two weeks have gone by in a flash, yet when I think about things that were going on in my life just before I started it feels like a lifetime ago. Probably because every waking moment (and most non-waking moments, to be honest) are consumed with trying to absorb the endless torrent of new information and develop heretofore unknown skills, I already can’t remember a time when this wasn’t my life.
The first week, especially, can be overwhelming. I flew each of the first 3 days, and honestly was a little relieved when clouds rolled in the 4th day and we had to cancel. Flying everyday at the beginning is hugely beneficial in trying to develop some muscle memory and build on what you just learned without forgetting everything, but it’s also just so physically and mentally draining those first few flights to be so focused for 2-3 straight hours in the plane. On top of that, the more you fly, the more ground school there is to keep up on, and correspondingly less time to do it since you’re spending more time in the air.
But, already through the second week, I feel myself settling in to a groove and, while I am only at the beginning of my journey and have SO much to learn, I can see how it cam be managed.
One simple experience I’ll share that was very meaningful for me and perhaps a good reminder for all of us. After completing the fundamentals and maneuvers units in the first week+, I started on my TOLs in my second week. On the first day of TOLs we’d done a few touch-and-goes in the pattern and then one time as we were coming back around, ATC directed us to extend downwind to follow in a 737 that was coming straight in on final. As I spotted the 737 coming in and we flew past each other at pattern altitude I just had this simple moment of pure exhilaration and joy and maybe for the first time since starting I realized “Wow, I’m actually doing this.” There’s so much to learn, but I was reminded to take a moment here and there to appreciate what I’m doing and enjoy it. I also was able to log 2 landings* from that first day of TOLs, so that didn’t hurt either (*they were not good landings, lest you be deceived ).