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...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

In Which Hannah Gets Her License and Drops off the Face of the Earth...

Dear Readers,

My sincerest apologies.
I suck.

If you have ever had some sort of writing commitment such as writing a blog or keeping a diary, perhaps you will be familiar with the following sentiments.  Sometimes it feels there are too many things happening at far to quick of a pace to be able to even keep up with it yourself, let alone be able to write it down for other people to follow as well.  That has been precisely what the past six months have been like for me.  I have been so busy and had so many things happen that the idea of writing them all down is very daunting, and I procrastinate like any student and just leave it and leave it until there is too much to catch up on and I just panic.

If you read that strange journey into my mind and are still with me then I am very surprised, but grateful.

Well, I believe when I left off in July I was just working up towards my first cross-country flight (and was apparently in a slight feminist rage).  Well, plenty has happened since then, so let me try and give you the Coles Notes version.  The basic idea is that last semester was ridiculously intense, academically speaking, and with that and my job I literally didn't even have days off.  So with little time and lots to do, a lot of my personal hobbies fell by the wayside.

In July and August I did my first two cross country flights with My Instructor, and then moved on to do two more by myself.  No great catastrophe occurred.  I found my way competently enough from Ottawa to Kingston and back, and then a trip from Ottawa to Cornwall and then Brockville before heading back to Ottawa again.  At first, the idea of doing a cross country by myself was terrifying, but I sucked it up and got on with it, and somehow pulled it off.  Overall, the idea of cross-country flight proved to be a thrilling experience.  I got a chill of excitement the first time I left CYOW heading for Smiths Falls - it was a completely different feeling to be flying myself to another place, instead of the usual out to the practice area and back.

After the cross country flights, it was time to start polishing.  My Instructor and I spent a lot of time working in the circuit and out in the Practice Area trying to perfect my air-work and such.  Some time around the end of July I got the Transport Canada written test for my Private License done and passed, and then My Instructor and I did my first Pre-Flight Test.  In order to be recommended for a flight test, the Instructor must be confident that you would indeed be able to pass a flight test, and so in many cases you do the Pre-Flight Test.  The PFT is basically a mock-up of a flight test.  You do the entire process of the test, from ground briefing to finish, with the instructor, and they grade you as you would be graded in the real test.  My first PFT wasn't brilliant, but it wasn't too bad either.  There were a few items I needed to work on, and others I performed quite well.  So I went back to work on fixing things up a bit.

At one point half way through August My Instructor offered to book my flight test, but for some reason I really wasn't feeling confident yet, so I told him I wanted more time.  At the end of August I had two weeks off from school, which, in theory, I should have used to practice.  Instead, The Airline popped up with some flight attending for me, and I jumped at the chance to make some extra money (this flying stuff isn't cheap...).  I rounded off two weeks of pairings with a nasty bout of food poisoning, and all of a sudden it was September and the new term of classes was starting.

Once I was well enough to fly again, things got serious.  I did another pre-flight test, and then we finally booked the day.  I booked the flight test examiner for September 28th, and studied my face off.

It was time for THE FLIGHT TEST *duhn duhn DUHN!*

The morning arrived, and unfortunately the weather was not great.  Still I did the prep, and when the examiner showed up I ignored the sensation that someone was tap-dancing in my stomach as best I could and got on with it.  We did the entire ground briefing for the flight, and I performed pretty well.  I got stumped on one or two questions, but for the most part I had it down.  However, when we finished up and checked the weather we discovered that the wind had picked up and there was definite rain on the radar.  We called it off.

To be honest, this came as something of a relief.  Breaking it up felt simpler to me than having to do the whole ground briefing AND the flight portion on the same day.  That being said, this led to the most stressful ten days of my life.  I must have booked and had to call of the flight portion three times thanks to horrible luck with the weather.  I was absolutely nuts by the time I finally got a halfway decent day in order to be able to do it.

The test itself was a bit of a blur.  I remember pulling off a SPECTACULAR power-on stall, which was fabulous, but the I also remember forgetting how to count and determining that I had a ground-speed of approximately 45 knots despite a tailwind...so, uh yeah.  High points and low points basically....

Anyway, we landed for the final time and taxied back to the flying club.  I had a feeling that I hadn't passed.... I knew I hadn't outright failed or the examiner would have stopped the test, BUT I thought I might have failed an item or two and would have to repeat them.  So as I shut down the engine and packed away I mentally prepared myself for the worst.

The examiner started talking and I didn't take it in too well.  He said something about a few mistakes he wanted to discuss but overall I had passed.  I blinked and paused for a moment.
'I passed?' I asked, in disbelief.
'Yes,' he replied.
'Like, pass passed?'
'As in I-get-a-license-now passed?'
'Uh yeah!'
'Holy sh*t'.

The examiner packed up and headed inside before me, leaving me to gather my flight kit...or perhaps just giving me the privacy to have a complete meltdown from relief.  Honestly the feeling that came over me then is unlike anything I've felt so far.  Such a rush of relief and joy.  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I did a fair bit of both.

I spent the rest of the day (during which I worked a full shift at work) alternately bouncing around with joy and telling everyone EVER that I had just passed my flight test, and having to excuse myself to have a meltdown in the ladies room.  It was THE MOST exhausting day.

Anyway, after that happened, I had to catch up on a lot of schoolwork that had taken the back-burner due to my flight test preparation.  For the rest of the fall I did a little flying - mostly working on my checkout to fly the Cessna 172, and a little bit of night flying.  Then exams came, and then Christmas, and on New Year's I took a work trip to Chicago for two weeks... and then all of a sudden I was back at school and back at work, and now it's the second week of February and I can't even say I have flown this year.  Epic fail.

Anyway, I have lots of other things to write about, but this was meant to be a bit of a catch up post, so at least you all know I am still alive and still working on my flying!  Better than that, I'm a license pilot now!  What a strange and wonderful thing to be able to say!  I certainly never would have predicted that in my future five years ago.  Hell, not even three!

Keep an eye out for more!