Sixteen hours, frustration starts to set in._

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May 13, 2011 @17:42
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Thinking back at the first 12 or 13 hours of my flight training I have to say it was mostly an experience of pretty constant enjoyment. My instructor has a mission based syllabus so all the lessons up until now have been go somewhere do something missions which I really enjoied. It means I got to go through the process of a typical flight: plan, brief, pre-flight, and execute the mission. Going somewhere (usually a nearby airport or landmark) means I got to go through the phases of a typical flight (departure, enroute/cruise, arrival) and the differing work loads associated with them. I'd exersize my skills (such as they are at this point) in various tasks such as pilotage (navigating by looking at a map and out the window), radio communication (not with ATC yet, but CTAF certainly), straight and level flight, airport operations, etc...

The last several lessons however are leading up to my first solo which is arguably the most important mile stone in a pilot's training for any class of certificate. As such the concentration has been on me executing take off, traffic pattern and landing successfully and if I'm honest I'm really starting to struggle and get frustrated by it. I don't know what the root cause is at the moment, part of it is trouble maintaining alignment with the center-line of the runway, which sounds easy and trivial (especially with a 32' wide plane on a 60' wide runway that is almost 3/4 of a mile long) but I can assure you it is not. So it kinda works out that I get overwhelemed, frustrated, and end up over-controlling the plane...

I can drive my car with two fingers, or a thumb simply hooked on the side of the steering wheel and maintain position within a hand-full of inches at 65MPH with ease. I can do the same in a boat, but put me on final towards a runway and I'm ham-fisting the aircraft, complete with sweaty palms and 180bpm heart-rate. Time, which is supposed to be a constant seems to accelerate and all the tasks I need to complete blur together... did I make the radio call for the turn to final, am I high, flaps, air-speed, throttle, descent rate... whereas I can drive a car at over a hundred miles per hour, in traffic, with barely more than a resting heart rate, doing 80MPH in this plane is a whole different story.

And I think that's part of the frustration. I'm competent in activities that seem similar at least when measured by speed or requirements of precision, but this is still difficult. I am sure that time and practice will bring the confidence and calm that I'm used to feeling in other activities to this and I tihnk admitting this to myself is certainly going to help but at least for the time being... it's frustrating and difficult.

And deep down inside, that's part of why it is so great. Things worth doing shouldn't be too easy.

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