Density Altitude is Real

Hello again, my fellow aviation enthusiasts.

It’s week 2 of being back at Gulfstream since returning from the Air Race Classic. Needless to say, there’s a transition that I’m still stuck in even 9 days after returning. No one, except my mom, told me that there is such a big difference between work and school ethic. School consumes every single second of every day for me. This past semester, I was up at 0445, flying by 0630, class from 0915-1300, working from 1330-1700, at group or individual flight team practice from 1715-1915, and then homework. Forget a social life. Luckily my best friends live with me so we make time to have fun at home.

Now granted, not everyone’s schedule is like this; I choose this crazy busy life, it didn’t choose me. But this gives you an idea of how busy of a schedule that I’m used to. Now, transition here to today. I’m working from 0730-1600 on average and then head home. To do what? Well, I make myself do things. Clean the apartment, write CFI lesson plans, apply for scholarships, apply for jobs, laundry, fun crafts, learning to curl my hair with a straightener, try perfecting a new recipe, FaceTime the dog back home while doing the dishes. But what does this all mean? Why should you care? I am living proof that the way you shape your own college experience (hopefully with us at ERAU!) shapes you into the working adult you will become. Through my choices of classes, clubs, teams, and friends, I have been able to teach myself time management,  self-discipline, self-motivation, stress management, when to call it quits, and of course how to have fun.

The picture above is me and my race partner, Abbie, taking off from Prescott, Arizona.

Pilots always talk about the effects of Density Altitude on aircraft performance. We teach it and discuss it, but you don’t know what you’re up against until you have to deal with it first hand. I’ll try and explain it to the best of my abilities in the simplest terms. Density altitude is the altitude at which your engine thinks that it’s flying. So out in Arizona in the mountains on a hot summer day, as I experienced during the Air Race this year, the density altitude could easily be upwards of 7000-8000 feet. In that case, the engine produces the same amount of power as if it were flying at 7000 or 8000 feet above the ground along the shoreline, except you may be only 2000 feet above the ground in Arizona. Basically the engine isn’t producing the full power that we would like during climb. It takes a little longer to get the airplane off the ground and the climb is slow and gradual. The airplane feels sluggish. To describe going from race mode, a constant “Go! Go! Go! Go, Quick Turn!” attitude and mentality, back to a normal schedule feels like I’m constantly fighting with density altitude. Getting up and ready in the morning takes me a little longer; driving to work, the flow of traffic is frustratingly slow; gathering information from others feels sluggish. Those may not be the best examples, but I guess we can say that we all fight density altitude in our lives everyday, somehow.

I hope you’ve enjoyed following along on a little tidbit of my thoughts over the last day and are looking forward to the next post!

Until next time, blue skies and tailwinds!


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