The Commercial training continues! :-)


Lessons are going well.  Apparently, all the way through the Commercial training and through my CFI training, afterwards John insists that I will be flying from the right seat from now on (at least for the training).  Last week’s lesson we were taxiing down the taxiway and John looked where I was sitting (the left seat) and asked me what I was doing there.  I told him I wasn’t sure if he had only wanted me to try the right seat out, as we did in our previous lesson or if he wanted me there on a regular basis.  I offered to shut-down in the run up area and change seats, but he declined and said we would just make sure next time that I was in the ‘right’ seat.   

John, sometimes seems to know me better than I know myself when it comes to my flying.  He realizes that I will want to have a LOT more familiarity with right seat flying until I really become comfortable with it. J 

The lesson before, last, we did some ground training (required as part of the rating), about 2.5 hours worth.  We were originally going to do that last week, but in the week preceding I was starting to feel like I might be catching a cold, so I opted for a ground session a week earlier. 

Last lesson we did more Chandelles, Lazy Eights, Steep (50 degree) turns, and added a new item to the mix; steep spirals.  We were so high, that the notion of descending with the engine at idle in a steep spiral wasn’t so much an issue as I thought it might have been.  I DO need to add more of the ‘steep’ to my steep spirals as I was making a few of them with fairly shallow banks – but being the first time I did them, John looked past that and pointed out that I had done a good job.  Can’t remember if I told you, but in a steep spiral the purpose is to allow one to descend to a desired point that is directly below the airplane.  For instance, you lose your engine and the only good spot to land is directly under you, yet you have LOTS of altitude.  So, rather than risk trying to lose altitude moving away from the point and then back again (risking the possibility of misjudging gliding distance and ending up short of the desired point), the steep spiral allows you to keep it directly underneath you at all times.  The pilot test standard {PTS) for the maneuver is that one maintain a constant airspeed +/- 10 knots and fly a bank angle no greater than 60 degrees (actually around 40 degrees or so is just fine). 

I’ve been through the training for the Commercial Written test  (from King Schools on DVD), once already and I have already begun going through it from the beginning.  I will do this at least several times (it is a 3 DVD set).  Soon I will be getting the Commercial Written software from Gleim, which allows the user to take the tests (in the same visual format as at the testing centers) in tutorial mode (where you can ask for explanations) and actual test mode (as one takes it at the testing center). 

I will also be copying the audio portion of my training DVD’s onto some audio CD’s that I will play in the portable CD player that I have plugged into my service van.  In this way, I can be studying at all times and take advantage of what would normally be ‘down time’ for studying. 

I used the latter method to study for the three instrument written tests I took, previously; Instrument Written, Instrument Ground Instructor written, and the CFI Instrument written exam and got a 90, 90, 88 respectively – which I’ve been told is a good score for any of the instrument written tests (I was quite pleased).  So, not to mess with success I will be doing the same for the Commercial Written exam and train in a similar manner as I did for my Instrument Oral exam. 

While, the Commercial flying is LOTS of fun – I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I am to be able to look out that windscreen again; the maneuvers are no simple cakewalk and most challenging (something that makes me enjoy them even more).  The information for the Commercial is also intensive (but all quite manageable with good study) and goes a lot more than any previous rating did on the function and operation of aircraft systems and training for more emergency scenarios.  Also, I will (after I can do the maneuvers, and well) do some training in a retractable gear plane with a constant speed prop.  I already bought a copy of the pilot information manual for the Piper Archer III.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was more than a little excited about flying a totally different plane (i.e. low-wing, with retractable gear and constant speed prop) and at the same time a little bit intimidated by the prospect – I’ll actually have to remember to check the gear before landings (before my landing gear has ALWAYS been ‘down’ J).  I guess that is one of the many enjoyable things about aviation is that it provides constant challenges while maneuvering in a 3-d environment. 

John had ‘fun’ with me, right from the start of the lesson last week.  I remember thinking as I was flying to the practice area that John (normally kind of a ‘Gary Cooper’ type) was certainly very talkative today.  At times he seemed to be ‘just chatting’ and other times would ask me about specific regulations and where they could be found.   It eventually dawned on me (and he confessed later) that he was trying to introduce lots of distractions (as a Commercial pilot in a small air-taxi operation might be getting from his/her passengers) while I was flying. 

I’m actually very grateful that John is introducing some of the CFI requirements into my Commercial training as it will make the CFI training (after I pass my Commercial checkride) much easier as I will already be comfortable with the right seat and with explaining the maneuvers as I do them.  We’ll be introducing spin recovery training once I begin my CFI training, officially. 

When the time comes (and I really am just trying to keep my eye on the task at hand; The Commercial Certificate training) and I begin the training for the CFI there will be LOTS of ground time spent in learning how to devise lesson plans and just how to teach someone to fly in the first place. 

My next lesson is tomorrow afternoon and I’m understandably eager to learn the maneuvers some more!  Sometime in the next month or so, I’m going to try to schedule some ‘extra time’ to get some real cloud time and approach practice with my CFII, just to keep the Instrument skills from getting rusty.  Goodness knows I worked hard for them and they can decay rather quickly.

Good Flights!

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