There I was turning from base to final, oh my. Is that me getting scared? Last time I did this I thought I was “Joe Pilot”, what’s happened?
The runway looks really small. I don’t know how we are going to fit this Cessna 172 on that narrow 75’ strip of concrete. Maybe I’m really high. No, 600 feet AGL. I’m going to have to figure out how to land an airplane after 16 years without embarrassing myself too bad. Hoping the flight school has some NASA forms, or are they now called Space X forms?
Old(er) and Rusty. You have heard the story thousands of times. Used to fly, got married, kids, college, even more college, less money, etc. The last kid is almost out of school and as time moves on, things stabilized. I wanted to get back to flying because I really love it.
The “Rusty Pilot” – it is a great term but I think it leads you into thinking a can of WD-40 and a few laps around the pattern and you are back. I guess it could be possible if you were out for a year or two and jumped back in. But it’s been 16 years for me. What’s new? Let me count the ways. Six packs are not the way to go today. Most of the “new” is glass. What was once the Heading Indicator, Airspeed Indicator, and the Attitude Indicator is now just the Garmin G1000.
The components of the airplane in the “before times” were straightforward. It is like if you had an IBM typewriter, a cave person might figure out how to put paper in and push buttons to get letters (HA, take that you 20 somethings. Now you see what it feels like to not know tech. Go ask your parents what a “typewriter” is, I’ll wait). Transponders are now hidden inside of glass requiring a sequence of button presses that are not outwardly intuitive for the new pilot. No more is there a device on the panel with numbers 0-7 that you could basically figure out.
Then there are the charts. Makes you feel bad for Gutenberg and all his hard work. Unfolding a map and looking for KORD? That I can do, KORD is by that big lake. Approach plates are on a tablet, not inside a one inch stack of paper. It is way better, but it is just one more thing to learn beside the flying part. An ILS now has a step child called LPV. I like cool abbreviations as much as the next pilot but geez, do you have to change everything? As I transition to learning in a Cirrus, what happened to Va? Its now Vo? So I guess if you make really cool airplanes, the FAA lets you make up your own “V” speeds?
The bigger problem is that I don’t think anybody is sure on what they’ve forgotten. The issue is your mind. You can’t recall something you forgot, so how are you supposed to know what parts of flying you are missing that you can’t remember?
I did the AOPA Rusty Pilot course, it was helpful. But I think the magnitude of how rusty anyone could be is the issue. I called AOPA to get an idea on what to do, and they were a big help. They said just go to my local flight school and jump back in the pool. The school should be able to figure out what I didn’t know. Oh and bring money, lots of money. Now that I do remember from my last time flying.
So I signed up for Sporty’s online Private and Instrument ground course. After spending a few weeks binge watching those, I felt more comfortable at least with the ground work. I went out to the flight school and we jumped into what I thought was a old friend, a Cessna 172. There is a lot of rust to blow off. The glass panel was new and I guess I need to re-learn how to taxi. My first taxi was like I was driving a lawnmower and was heading for the infield grass to do some trimming. I may be responsible for more than a few instructors quitting.
Depending on how far behind you are, some online training is good. But spend time listening to your instructor, trust me, they have probably seen worse. YouTube can be good as well. But I suggest that you just get back into flying. I do still remember what a blast it is and how much I love it. There’s no better feeling than going from Chicago to Nashville in 2.5 hours. What’s not to love!?