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 ).
Quick update: I just hit 6 weeks in the program and completed my first solo flight today at RIC. Hopefully the weather cooperates this week and I can get my solo TOLs done and on to my XCs.
I’ve been following this forum for 3-4 years now and seeing countless students post about their progress through the program, so it’s a bit surreal to be doing that myself now. It feels good.
Whether it’s students starting young or people like me that are changing gears at a later stage of life, the mentors here are genuinely good people to be giving their time to provide guidance and direction. I can honestly say I would not have found this path without this forum and your tireless efforts to support those of us aspiring to the profession, so thank you.
Time for an update: Since my first solo on Sep. 28 I had a pretty smooth stretch, and had my checkride endorsements in hand 3 weeks later. Then my private checkride date got pushed back a couple times due to weather and examiner availability. I guess it all tends to balance out. I finally finished the oral yesterday but we had to discontinue before the flight as the winds picked up. Fortunately we were able to get the flight in this morning. Also fortunately, I passed.
It took 2.5 months from my start date to get through private (and that’s with the last 2 weeks spent mostly waiting around for the checkride). There’s always this natural push to try to get through as quickly as possible, but with the industry the way it is at the moment, I can’t say there’s a big rush. Just trying to enjoy it. So far so good!
That is fantastic! Congratulations! 2.5 months is not bad at all. Try not to push to get through as quickly as possible, but take time and really learn the material, your life might depend on it someday.
Congratulations again and thank you for the update!
I passed my instrument checkride today, about 2 and a half months after completing my private. Flying during the winter months has definitely been a good learning experience. Between planes breaking on us and trying to plan around icing conditions–not to mention a streak of bad scheduling luck and the holiday break–we didn’t get much flying in the whole month of December. I had to reschedule my 300NM flight about 15 times, haha. Fortunately there’s a lot of sim time scheduled into this phase, and 2021 has started out a bit more favorably as I got the rest of my flights in and checkride scheduling went smoothly. All part of the process! Just trying to roll with it.
When I first started the instrument phase it was pretty overwhelming–like I was learning from zero time again. Now I love it. Still have a LOT to improve on, but following a glide slope might be the most fun thing to do once you figure it out. Crew AATD tomorrow, eval on Friday then I’ll be off on crew!
Congrats on the instrument rating! That’s a big one to knock out! Headed in to the crew phase, keep in mind what you’re about to do is very similar to how the rest of your career will be. Multiple legs a day, working with your PM/PF to ensure a safe and successful flight, staying in different hotels and different cities every night, etc. It’s an exciting time to start to see what all the training is setting you up for, a career that isn’t as far off as it sometimes may feel!