Category: Journal

From student to teacher

Well, I’ve finally done it. After three years of flight training at UND, I’ve earned the last rating required for graduation – and the one most useful to a job search in Washington State: as of early last week, I am a Flight Instructor, Instrument. Yes, I still have one more semester here, and yes, I could earn many more instructor ratings, but this is probably the single biggest step towards my aviation career.

One of the most amazing things about CFIand CFII training is discovering just how much you don’t know. Aviation is a process of constant learning, but nowhere is it obvious to this extent. Before beginning the course, I was a current, instrument-rated pilot, but I was hardly proficient. Shooting an unfamiliar approach could have been interesting, to say the least. Now, I feel that I could fly just about anywhere in the country and successfully execute an approach in minimum conditions, teaching a student the whole time. It’s a huge boost in confidence.

Due to a registration snafu, I wasn’t able to enroll in the CRJ simulator course, and won’t be graduating as planned in August. It’s not all bad – I plan to apply here, at UND, as an instructor for the fall, so the additional tuition costs should be offset somewhat. I’ll also be earning hours of dual given experience, which never hurts. Once summer courses are finished in a couple weeks, I’ll head home and start planning for the coast-to-coast cross country flight I mentioned back in April.

Almost done for the semester

I’m wrapping up my CFII course this week; it’s been keeping me busy for the last month. My to-do list for the next 24 hours, mostly to make sure I don’t forget anything:

  • (DONE) instrument proficiency check plan of action
  • (DONE) LP: aeromedical/human factors
  • (DONE) LP: control/performance & primary/secondary
  • (DONE) LP: timed turns
  • (DONE) LP: ASR & PAR approaches
  • (DONE) LP: light gun signals
  • (ACQUIRED) worksheets: AIM/PTS/FAR
  • (DONE) expand: circling radii
  • (DONE) expand: airspace
  • (DONE) expand: GPS alternate minimums (AIM 518)
  • (DONE) purchase: new PTS
  • (DONE) purchase: Gleim Instrument Maneuvers
  • (DONE) outline: bogus speech for Public Speaking (Comm 110)
  • (DONE) sleep: hopefully for at least six seven hours!
  • (DONE) 1100a: present Crew Resource Management video with group
  • (DONE) purchase: new WARG checklist
  • LP: SDF & LDA approaches
  • LP: weather and weather products
  • LP: any remaining PTS items
  • (DONE) print: GPS study guides
  • (DONE) print: Avidyne study guide
  • (DONE) print: NASA form and 8710-1a
  • (DONE) print: IFR advisory circulars
    • AC 60-22 Aeronautical Decision Making
    • AC 61-134 CFIT
    • AC 90-94 GPS guidelines
    • AC 91-74 flight in icing
  • (DONE) print: all updated lesson plans
  • (DONE) finalize: CFII binder

After that? It’s time for my CFII final, then two checkrides sometime in the next week or so. I’ll be sticking around in Grand Forks to finish up the last of my graduation requirements, one of which is a CRJ ground school, so I won’t get much of a summer vacation until the beginning of August.

Taking the grand tour

One of the things that’s been creeping to the front of my mind as I near graduation is a flying tour of the country. I’ve considered it before in the past, but it wasn’t until we bought the Yankee back in November that it became a real possibility.

Basically, I’d leave from the Puget Sound and cross the Cascades near Ellensburg, then head to Spokane before working my way through the Rockies via Missoula and Helena. It’s been suggested that I cross further south, but I’m hesitant to do so – the route winds up being much farther, and I’d spend a significantly longer stretch over the mountains than I would by hitting the major Montana cities. I don’t know about you, but the less time over serious terrain like that, the better.

Once past the mountains I’m looking at a number of options, but I’d probably try to swing through Oshkosh (even if the air show wasn’t running) just to say that I’d flown there. My final destination would be New York City, or a smaller airport nearby like Teterboro; enroute, there and back, I would also try to stop by some relatives in Maryland and Ohio.

This is all pretty hypothetical right now, but it’s certainly a trip the Yankee would be capable of making. People have gone coast-to-coast in much more poorly-equipped – not to mention flimsier – aircraft and made out just fine. Just because I’m making a career out of aviation doesn’t mean I can’t have fun with it. I’m going to spend probably the next six months working on improving the plan (and working on a return) – any suggestions for stops or alternate routes?