Saturday, May 29, 1999

My "Flight of Passage" (Lesson #7 - Start Phase 2)

It's funny how I met Kern Buck -- in September 1998 I read the book his brother Rinker Buck wrote about their flight across the US in a radioless Piper Cub back in 1967 (Flight of Passage). Then I heard his name in the waiting room at Jiffy-Lube in Milford when we were both having our cars serviced, and I introduced myself (maybe March '99?). We talked on the phone a few times, kinda fun, he was renewing his CFI rating and said we'd go flying when he did.

Well, he did, and we did! Flew a C172 (N738NL) on a gorgeous, windless Saturday morning in Hopedale, where Kern is now a freelance CFI (I guess). We preflighted the airplane together, and I handled all the operations, taxi, and takeoff (he did the radio calls). We worked on the four fundamentals since it had been so long since I flew (climbs, glides, straight & level, turns). He talked me through the approach and I followed through on controls for the landing (he had some trouble finding the airport when we were out west near Mendon -- it's a new flying area for him, he took his IFR instruction at Hanscom).

I did OK on taxi, takeoff (a little hesitant on pulling back at Vr), straight and level, and climbs. Turns were pretty good too, I think, though I gained or lost some altitude on some of them. On glides, I got so hung up on speed that I lost track of my directional control and let the nose wander all over the place. NEED TO HOLD SOME LEFT RUDDER ON A GLIDE. Why??? Shit, I forget!

I don't really have the money for frequent lessons, but I'd like to fly once a month and not worry TOO much about "progress" -- make some slow progress, keep my hand in the flying game. Maybe do self study to take the written exam. Kern would really like to "solo me" this summer or fall, and at $90/hour, we're talking "only" about $1000 for the 10 or 11 hours that this would probably take (I thought I had more time than I do -- there are some unlogged hours, but I probably need around 10 hours of "recent" time to really be able to solo. I'd also have to get my medical exam -- don't have to take the written before solo, but that would be cool too). It's "only" $1000 but with everything else I'm doing, it's kinda tough. I should really level with Kern on this -- if he wants weekly flights, he needs to get an additional student, not just me!

I like Kern -- he's an interesting guy, certainly, and seems OK as a CFI, pretty relaxed, but not as relaxed as Bjorn. Of course this was our first flight, and his first flight in a long time as CFI (though he has 2000 flight hours, 1000 of them as CFI). We need to get our goals in synch -- I'd love to fly a lot and solo and get my ticket ASAP, but money is too tight for this right now.

Follow-up: I spoke with Kern about scheduling more lessons. During the call, Kern told me that he thought my flying was really good, and that I knew most of the basics pretty well. He said I really just need work on integrating it all, practice and pointers, and that within about 2 lessons we could start to work on takeoffs and landings, with the idea of solo by the end of this summer! That would be so cool! Trouble is that 8-10 hours will cost $800-1000, and with house plans underway, money and time are tight. BUT IF NOT NOW, WHEN? Kern says if you love it, then find a way to do it -- don't keep putting it off. And it's important to fly regularly, like once a week (travel permitting) so I don't keep backsliding and having to review for half the lesson. I'M GONNA TRY FOR IT!!! Take a look at the budget...

Time: 0.9 hrs dual TT 8.9 hrs, C172 at 1B6