Saturday, October 06, 2007

NUMBER SIX: "What do you want?" NUMBER 2: "Information!" -The Prisoner

Looking deep into your heart, I can tell that you, like me, bookmark dozens of sites, but rarely turn to your bookmarks when searching for information. Tonight I went looking through my bookmarks for a very good site that I had forgotten that I had forgotten about, and found it. It's an online book called See How it Flies, by John S. Denker, and it's a well-written and extremely useful resource about flying. It is available here. I would put its clarity and usefulness at least on par with the aviation classic, Stick and Rudder (also an extremely worthwhile read). I used See How it Flies as a resource when studying for my Flight Review last Fall. While I didn't read it "cover to cover", I found some very helpful, practical and easy to remember principals that made the Flight Review go more smoothly.

I'm certainly far from an expert on aviation instruction in particular, but I do think that as an individual it can be very hard to single out the most crucial stuff to remember. This is true with many things, of course, but it seems like in aviation, the stakes are very high and the information is very diffuse, and often unclear. Throughout my private pilot training, I went up with two different instructors and eventually a Flight Examiner. All had what I felt to be slightly different interpretations of what should be done, given certain circumstances. Some of these were interpretations of rules, and some were opinions on proper techniques or practices. And the truth is, there sometimes are a variety of ways to approach a situation. The problem for the student is to understand which of these things are "gospel" and which are just opinions.

If you flew for hundreds of hours in pursuit of your private pilot's license, you'd get the chance to encounter the same situations numerous times, to the point where you'd start to intuit what the most important information was, by hearing how your instructor's advice differed (or remained the same) each time you encountered them. But the average pilot earns his or her private in an average of 75-80 hours, and a fair amount of that will be solo time, where the only advice you're getting is from your deceased Jedi mentor, Obi Wan. And he mostly just keeps telling you to "search your feelings."

Once you have your license, you become more in charge of your progress as a pilot than ever. With so much information out there it's a little overwhelming. It's really super-overwhelming, actually.

It's been a while since I dug into See How it Flies, but I think reading a little of it every day might be a good way to keep mentally training even when I can't get out to fly.


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