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Hello flying and new job

A couple of big things have happened the past few months. Most recently, I rejoined the tech workforce a couple of weeks ago after my two year hiatus. A good friend of mine that I used to work with hit me up out of the blue and sold me on this new awesome place he joined recently.  It’s been fun so far, there is so much interesting stuff to do, it’ll keep us busy for a while. Truth be told I was kind of getting bored, I was only going on a big roadtrip every couple of months and not really doing anything terribly interesting. I figured out I’m not as rusty at the Linux stuff as I thought I’d be, but my body sure is still getting used to waking up to an alarm in the mornings.

The other thing is that I started taking up flying lessons over in Palo Alto in June. A long time ago in April of 2001 I finished a ground school class hosted at an FBO at Riverside airport (KRVS) in Tulsa, anticipating I’d start flying after. I don’t even remember how I got into taking the class, I hadn’t even yet met my current flying friends. I didn’t even get into skydiving until October 2002. I guess I thought it would be a fun thing to do. In any event, I had just gotten accepted at the University of Tulsa when my CFI called up to schedule time on a Cessna 152 for training. I called things off, started going to university, ultimately dropping out, business and life happened. I had my E6B and could do crosswind calculations without a computer, 152 dip stick, sampler cup, textbooks, log book, plotter, all ready to go. Most interestingly, 9/11 happened later that year. I still had my scanner to listen to KRVS frequencies and it was a constant loop about the full ground stop advisory for 2-3 days. I wish I had a recording of that.

Fast forward to February 2019. My friend Alex decided he was finally going to go for his private pilot certificate and he started to talk me into doing it at the same time. Like most things I was hesitant about it, I hadn’t thought about it in nearly two decades. By March I was thinking about the “what could’ve been”. April I was re-reading the FAA material and regulations, and hand wavily considering where to go learn how to fly. Alex had finally convinced me that my current funemployment time was the most important asset I had, I could go bang out multiple lessons during the week and probably save a ton of money by not repeating skill lessons over a long time. In May I was getting really excited about the idea, churning through the FAA reading material, but in June it started to sink in just how much money it was going to cost me and I nearly backed out completely.

Finally I just said fuck it, and drove over to Palo Alto on the weekend to schedule a discovery flight to see what it was like. I got matched up with my current CFI that Monday and we went flying over Half Moon Bay. I don’t know what I was expecting, I didn’t know I’d be the one doing the takeoff. After we got near the coast he asked what I wanted to do, and I said I didn’t know, so we did some commercial-grade steep turns that were really whoa, a couple of passes up and down the coast, and coming back a couple of touch-n-goes at Palo Alto. There were some gorgeous views over the coast that I got a couple of photos of, and also of the peninsula, but I was still at the controls and had a plane to fly.

I guess that finally put the bug in me. The CFI texted me not too long after saying he had slots open so I said sure, why not, and that’s how it started. I started flying regularly in July and beyond. The first dozen or so flights were so disappointing, I was so nervous on takeoffs I’d wander way off center line, pitch up way too high during takeoff, nor get on right rudder, or whatever; my CFI said he’d look over and my hand would be shaking on the yoke.

Eventually after a dozen or so hours I think I finally became really aware what to do, finally staying mostly on the center line during takeoff, take in instruments, not pulling back, just gradual up over and away. Landings are another story, those took a lot more hours to get even the basic feel for. At least now I’m finally starting to make somewhat reasonable radio calls!

Today I’m around 18 hours into things and while gaining a lot of confidence still dreading things. Stall recoveries still scare me to think about, but I know I need to get used to them. I hear upset recoveries is a gut-wrenching fest to look forward to. I feel like a granny flying a 172 yet it’s capable of far much more of what I want to put into it. 20 year old me may have been yee-haw eventually, but older me isn’t so ready for it.

So here I am at least with a new hobby on the weekend that really tests the mind and doesn’t involve sitting inside and computers (well except iPads) for once.

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