After having spent about two months back home since returning due to the situation with COVID-19, my body is starting to itch to return to the skies. I never fully understood those bumper stickers and license plate borders that said “I’d rather be flying right now” even as an avid aviator. Flying may be a hobby for some and a career for others but it’s a skill that only gets more refined the more you are in the air. There is a reason for airline pilots being evaluated and trained in simulators every 6-9 months because just like riding a bicycle, your skills get rusty.
I plan on returning to campus near August when the situation with COVID-19 and civil unrest have somewhat settled down, but the country is currently going through one of her toughest times. It breaks my heart to be on the other side of the globe as I see the world suffer in so many different ways. Sometimes I wish I could take off to the skies and briefly take a break from thinking about all the issues that are on the ground.
I have about 170 flight hours since I started my flight training and a good chunk of those hours were spent in the night or by myself without an instructor on board. When you get to fly to different locations in various conditions, you start to appreciate the beauty of flying even more. I would like to share some special moments of my flying career as an appreciation post in the absence of flying.
This was my “Discovery Flight” which was my first time getting to fly in a smaller, General-Aviation aircraft like the Cessna 172 we have at Riddle. After breaking through a thick layer of morning fog and low clouds, we broke out over a coated layer of what seems like a soft, cotton candy floor. The feeling of seeing the sunrise over the cloud layer is something you can’t describe with words.
This was my long cross country flight for my commercial course. It was from Daytona Beach to Dothan, AL, Tallahassee, FL and back to Daytona. It was a whopping 6 hour round-trip in a single Cessna by myself. It was rough getting up early in the morning but once I got to the plane, my mind was as sharp as it ever could be since I was responsible for my life for the next 6 hours. It was a special experience getting to fly for so long without my instructor sitting next to me.
This was one of the bumpiest flights in my flying career. There was a low pressure system around Southern Florida and my instructor and I were trying to get to Vero Beach for our last cross country flight together. It was in no way an attempt to dangerously beat the weather and we were well clear of the actual cold front coming up. However, we often ran into huge layers of clouds and thanks to our IFR flight plan, we were able to fly through them all. There were times when the bumps were so strong it would knock the pen off my kneepad.
Instrument course is probably one of my favorite portions of flight training. You get to fly at night which means you get to enjoy beautiful sunsets like this one and enjoy the stars that will soon paint the sky above you once the sun actually sets. The air traffic becomes less congested and the controllers are more relaxed so it’s a more pleasant flying experience overall.
I have listed some special moments of my flying experience and these are unique to every pilot. The nature of our industry is always evolving and we are forced to work in environments that are constantly changing. I hope the world will soon heal from all the pain it is experiencing at the moment and that more planes and pilots can take off into the brighter future. Blue skies and tailwinds!