Springfield Chapter Missouri Pilots Association

March 2003

Flying Journal - Bad Winter - Great Flying

Last month I said it had been a great winter flying. That continues to be true, but only the flying was great, not the winter. Nine snowstorms? Come on. Wasn't February something? Remember March 5? It was about 20 degrees in the morning. I went into a meeting under a dreary overcast at 11 am. When I came out at noon, it was sunny. The next day it was 63 degrees. No wonder so many people have been sick. I'm not complaining, but it would be nice to have a little lovely Ozarks Spring between Winter and Summer.
But as I said, the flying was great for me. I spent a pleasant hour adding up pages in my logbook. Despite the everlasting winter weather, I managed to log 35 hours in the four months, November through February. I was also surprised at the variety-six airplane types and one gyroplane (and a second gyroplane type in October). I gave instruction or rides in these airplane types: Cessna 152 and 172 and Piper Cherokee 180, Arrow, Cherokee Six and a t-tail Turbo Lance. There's hardly room in the little type column in the logbook for the Lance-PA32RT-300T.
This is hard to believe, but I can't say with certainty how many students and passengers I carried. Six students, I'm sure, but after I flew Santa Claus in the Christmas parade at Buffalo, I flew so many passengers I lost count.
Looking back through my logbook, I realized how fortunate I am to enjoy such a variety of flying experiences, plus I get paid for many of them! In addition to a pleasing variety of aircraft and students, those slow winter months included three night flights and cross-country flights to Kentucky, Iowa, and Kansas. During that time, my student, Mike Jones, accomplished his first solos as well as his first solo cross-country.
I helped pilots work on Wings training, Biennial Flight Reviews, and night currency. I ferried aircraft and passengers and started my first initial CFI candidate (having trained students for Instructor and Multi-engine Instructor previously).
I learned a lot, too. One of my students was coming due on his first B.F.R. He hadn't flown much this winter and was he ever surprised how rusty he had become! I was similarly humbled to realize how rusty I was becoming, especially on some of those little "book-learning" type details when I began training another instructor. What an opportunity, to extend my influence beyond just the pilots I have trained myself; also a challenge and a great "real-world" refresher (I had already taken the "official" CFI refresher course in September).
Many of you may have met Brandon Roberts, who has been working at Springfield Downtown Airport the last few years while he finished his business degree at Southwest Missouri State. I had given him his Private instruction and much of his Instrument. He had earned his Commercial and Multi-engine ratings and was ready to tackle perhaps the hardest checkride for his own CFI. (I think he now has more hours than I did when I was training him for his Private ticket). He already has some turbo-prop and jet time, and will be a fine corporate pilot in the not-too-distant future (business aviation types, take note).
All this musing helps bring me out of the winter doldrums and hit the ground running as light and warmth return. It also reminds me to remind all my fellow pilots-we all get rusty. That's one of the most depressing things about aviation-you can never rest on your laurels. No matter how many dozens or hundreds or thousands of hours you have, you still lose your edge in only a few weeks. The moral of this story? It's time to start working on your next Wings level, or brush up on your night landings or instrument approaches. Call up your favorite flight instructor and we'll see you at the airport!

Fly with currency, proficiency and safety and share the joy!


[Copyright 2003 - Earl Holmer]