Clouds Are Scary

As I mentioned last post I’ve taken it upon myself, after much pressure, to pursue my flight instructor rating so as to help eager young fledglings take wing. Or to put it into layman’s terms, scare myself silly as students with no experience and even less common sense try and see just how hard you have to hit a concrete runway to actually put a dent in it. Should be fun. But before I get to do that I first need to pass two extremely difficult written tests and an even more difficult FAA check ride. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the failure rate for pilots taking the check ride for the first time is right around 80%. Wonderful.

So with starry eyed optimism, a spring in my step, eager anticipation, and an almost childlike giddiness, (note, heavy sarcasm alert) I drove the hour and a half to the flight school to the learning. I’ve been paired up with another student who’s also trying to get his CFI rating named Leslie. Leslie is a twenty something young man from Belize, by way of Virginia,  who has dreams of leaving the real world and becoming a professional pilot. He’s already secured a position as a flight instructor in Arizona in order to build up the 1500 hours of flight time required to obtain the coveted Airline Transport Pilot license but he first has to pass his check ride. And in order to pass his check ride he has to practice teaching the flight maneuvers, with an instructor, in an airplane, in the sky. And there’s the problem. Because, you  see, Leslie has bad luck when it comes to weather. As I mentioned, Leslie is from Belize but lives in Virginia, and apparently there isn’t a suitable flight school in his area so for some reason he’s chosen to come up to the great white north to do his flight training. I don’t know if they have books about different climates where he comes from but it does have a tendency to get a might cold up here during the part of the year we call winter. Oh, and it snows sometimes too. Leslie told me that when he flew up here to get his multi-engine rating the weather was so bad it took him over a month to get it all done and so far he’s been trying to since December to get his CFI rating. Now that’s bad luck, and unfortunately it’s rubbing off on me because out of the last six days we were scheduled to fly together we’ve flown exactly none due to low clouds. Now, when I say low clouds I mean too low for the instructor, not for me. OK, one or two of those days the base of the clouds was under 1000 feet, not real scary but still too low to practice flight maneuvers. But for the last three days, this morning included, the base of the overcast has been 1500-2000 feet with good visibility. Um, doesn’t it say in the regulations that you need a minimum of 1500 feet in order to do aerobatics? And seeing that all we are doing is practicing simple, non-aerobatic maneuvers like turns around a point and S turns along a road couldn’t we, you know, go flying? Apparently not. Too low the instructor said, too scary. Let’s wait for the perfect day, sometime in June maybe. I may be exaggerating a bit on that last part but I’m starting to see why it’s taken so long for Leslie to get his ratings.


Post Update:   After thinking about what I wrote about the decisions my flight instructor has made about not flying in what he considers to be “marginal” conditions I fear that I may have come off as just a bit harsh. Professional pilots and instructors have a duty to their passengers and students to make sound and safe go-no go calls that are in the best interests of safety. Just because they are no skill, non-hack, frady cats, who wouldn’t know good weather if it bit them in the………………..Hmmm. I’m not sure this is going in the direction I intended.  I should probably take out my frustrations another way, maybe doing something constructive like studying for the written test. Maybe we can fly tomorrow.

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