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“From Instrument to Commercial”

04.03.2012

1228, My how things have been. After biffing the Instrument end-of-course twice before passing it, I earned my rating in a beautiful and thrilling flight. It was a morning with skies that mimicked the golden-pink and smooth skies I flew through for the multi-private end-of-course. We did the usual for instrument, preflight, then picked up the IFR clearance for the flight plan I filed. We would practice approaches at Melbourne and Vero Beach, do a couple maneuvers, and end back at our nest in Ft. Pierce. We taxied out to the active runway (10R), got the IFR release and takeoff clearance, and I executed a smooth takeoff. But then, at about 400 feet into the takeoff, as I was placing my hand on the prop levers to bring “out-of-the-red”, I heard a familiar sound and felt the familiar air rush feeling of my door popping clear open. The first thing I do, is place my right hand on the yoke, and switch my left hand to holding the door. As hectic as it sounds, this sort of thing happens more than it really should, and as one follows procedures and DOESN’T PANIC, everything will be fine. Besides, with the unnecessary heat that Florida provides, having the door open gave me some unexpected air-conditionng. I was making sure though that pouch on the door holding my charts, timer, trusty water bottle, foggles, and beloved cell phone was actually still holding them, and I said to the examiner “I’ll hold the door, and you can fly”. He suggested the opposite, and I flew a normal traffic pattern while he held the door. I hadn’t flown a full one since multi-engine training, but this went smoothly all the way through to the centerline landing.

After landing, I shut my door, checked it twice, and we taxied out and flew out again. The checkride went swimmingly! It was nice to shoot approaches at someplace that wasn’t Vero Beach or Fort Pierce, and the examiner told me about how the airlines and corporate companies do things. We ended the flight and the checkride with these words “If this was a jet, I could check you out right now, you fly that smoothly”. His words, coming from an examiner with 36,000 hours made all the tedious and challenging flying of instrument training all worthwhile.

Armed with an instrument rating and some fresh flying confidence, my instructor and I began (and completed) maturation. These are flight fulfilling the commercial requirements and they all went awesomely. The instructor basically sits there and watches me. (Poor guy, I know he was bored to tears not being able to fly at all). I flew to West Palm Beach, Key West and Tallahassee, (having never been to either) and then ended maturation by flying the four best instrument approaches since I had learned how to do them. Now begins the fun part of training: building hours toward the commercial license. No instructors, no stage checks, just flying the Duchess to anywhere you and your partner want to go to.  Yesterday (04.03.2012), I had my first timebuilding flight, a simple trip to Gainesville. Contrary to the cross-countries flown during previous aspects of training, we actually got to step of our aircraft. We took care of any “calls of nature” and my fellow pilot grabbed some water. Then we went back to the aircraft, preflighted, and came back to Fort Pierce. While flights like these seem like easy tasks, and they are, they also place the responsibility of all aspects of the flight into the hands of the two commercial pilot applicants flying. Notice how I referred to myself and those who are in the timebuilding phase as “commercial pilot applicants”. The student pilot phase ended with the receipt of the private pilot certificate, and now, we aren’t just multi-engine rated instrument pilots anymore, and no, we aren’t trying to see if we’re good enough at flying to get paid for it either. We’re aiming for the certification for you and those others of the world to put your life and the lives of your loved ones and colleagues in our hands when you step into the aircraft of the globe. This timebuilding phase is a test, a test that will determine if we still make good decisions without the flight instructor breathing down our necks. A test that determines if we still put safety first when the check instructor isn’t there to fail us. A test that determines if we’re still good pilots when sent on our own with your spouse and children riding along.

It is a test I will do my darnedest to get 100% on…..plus some extra credit 😉

Distributed by Viestly

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