Once upon a time, a self-proclaimed Archaeology-Lifer got a job as a flight attendant. No one knows quite how it happened. Here's what happened next...

Monday, July 26, 2010

"We tried to use a car cigarette lighter, but it didn't work so well..."

I'm such a busy little bee these days it's a tad bit ridiculous, and I'm starting to wonder when (if ever) it is likely to let up. Work, sleep, work, sleep, study, fly, work, study sleep. This is my life. I'd like to cut a little bit of the work out, but it does't look like it'll happen any time soon.

Last week on Wednesday I wrote my PSTAR, which is one of the three tests prior to my first solo flight. I was a little nervous, but the inner perfectionist reared it's ugly head and made me study until I could recite the practice exam (some 200 questions, the real test takes 50 questions at random) by heart. Since the exam was multiple choice it wasn't too taxing once I had studied up. It took me about fifteen minutes (the time allotted is an hour and a half!) and then took it up to be graded, which was met with a raised eyebrow. But I was pretty confident, and sure enough I scored 100%! I tried not to look to pleased with myself.

As I mentioned before, the weekend was spent in Toronto celebrating the marriage of one of my best friends. It was a lot of fun, and Pocket Venus looked absolutely wonderful! The ceremony was beautiful, and although I didn't think I would cry, the second she walked down the aisle I started giggling hysterically and bawling my eyes out at the same time. NOT attractive. I was very surprised at how much hard work it is, standing around looking pretty all day for the photographers. It was all "pose this way" and "smile more" and "crouch down" and "do this" and so on. One very awkward set up had us bridesmaids fawning over the new groom as though we all fancied the pants off him. The photographer piped up with "comfortable"? Oh yeah, we all make passes at our BFF's new husband all the time...

While I was in Toronto I realised that my schedule and that of My Instructor didn't mesh too well for this week. I was looking at Friday before I could get a lesson in. I knew I wouldn't be able to wait that long to get back in the air, and it's definitely not good to go so long between lessons, so I asked nicely if he wouldn't mind taking me up Sunday evening. So Sunday being the morning after the wedding, I got in my car and drove all the way back to Ottawa just in time for a lesson at 6pm.

A text from My Instructor asked me to bring hot dog buns, and bribed me with the possibility of hot dogs for my dinner. Easily convinced, I stopped off at the shop before heading to the club. When I arrived, I found three of the instructors, mine included, engaged in a quest for fire. Apparently barbeques need flames to work, and no one had a lighter. Watching these three (generally intelligent) men attempt to create fire was ridiculously entertaining, and I was almost disappointed when they finally figured it out, because I was so much enjoying watching them try.

After the hot dogs which were an hour and a half in the making, My Instructor and I finally got back in the sky. The winds were gusting 17kts in a perfect crosswind on runway 22. Everyone else seemed to be opting to take off from 32 into a headwind, but I decided to be stubbourn and take off in the crosswind. It was challenging, that's for sure, but My Instructor said I did a nice job of it.

Instead of working in the circuit, we took advantage of the windy day to head out to the Pracice Area for my lesson on illusions created by drift. It was a fun lesson, and it was pretty cool to be flying around only 700ft above the ground on such a windy day. Despite the wind, it was a beautiful evening. I had little trouble keeping my altitude, and started to feel like a good student pilot again. A little break from circuits appears to have been just what I needed. No worries about my landings, little in the way of radio communications, just us, the plane and the sky.

After an enjoyable hour in the sky, we turned around and headed back to YOW, where I opted to land in a headwind - still a challenge, but definitely registered among my better landings. You can just imagine my sigh of relief. I spent most of the lesson enjoying the view and the exercises, and laughed a lot. My Instructor commented after I had landed and taxied back to the club that I seemed significantly more relaxed now, and that it translated into my flying. I felt so pleased to hear that from him, after having so many lessons with him where I could not make myself perform the way I wanted to.

While My Instructor and I debriefed, he said something I had been waiting to hear for a very long time. I finally have an idea of when my first solo flight will take place. He wants me to do two more lessons - I think one more round of circuits, and a review lesson in the practice area, and then after those two lessons it will time. I finally feel ready. I feel nervous to think about it coming up so soon, but as I have sad before, nervous is good, useful energy, as opposed to fear. So now all I have to do is write a couple of tests (I am aiming for early next week) and get those two lessons out of the way as soon as I have the time and the funds, and I can book my very first solo flight. Who would have thought it?


  1. That is incredible! Good for you. :) :) :) :)

    your YOW cheerleader,


    (It was cool seeing you at the flying club...)

  2. Well done! I remember back to those early days... and I got stonewalled many times. Doing something completely different, or trying a different instructor for that lesson, were two of the techniques that were useful for breaking through the blockades.

    And sometimes you are not blockaded -- sometimes it just takes a good while to get the knack of something (like landing).