Friday, September 29, 2006


Yesterday seemed to be a particularly bad day for flight students.

One about-to-be instructor, on his check out ride with the Chief Pilot, forgot to latch the door prior to take off. Went through the checklist and missed it. After take off, the plane returned to the ground and the instructor was released.

A's student had a check ride. They guy had been kind of a punk during his training- not wanting to use checklists, thinking he was better than everyone, that kind of thing. He pre-flighted the wrong plane because he didn't check and he thought he knew where the plane was parked. Needless to say, the examiner wasn't too happy. He passed though.

And the kicker, the students who accidently landed at the millitary base instead of the local airport nearby. Not sure aviation they will be doing from now on...

It's kind of like natural selection, all the bad pilots are weeding themselves out all on their own.

Monday, September 25, 2006


A's first student as an instructor passed her check ride. Â I'm so proud of him. He was so nervous. And since it was his first students checkride, the examiner and other CFI's did a little hazing on him. But he made it through and has 2 more students getting their tickets this week.
 After all of the confusion of what/when A was going to teach, he ended up as an add on instructor. So he gets people for a few days to teach them the info for additional license, like an ATP or MEI. It's definetly the hardest type of instructing, but also the fastest to accumulate hours. It's hardest because you get all sorts of people with a wide range of flight skills and he has to get them comfortable in the plane and teach them the knowlege, in as little as one day. Occasionally this involves bringing people's skills up to par.
One of the reasons he ended up teaching the add on's is his age. At 35, he is more mature and has more credibility than some of the younger guys at his school. It seems that some of these high time pilots who come in for add on certificates don't really dig being taught by a 21 year old punk. I don't blame them. He's also less likely to make an ass of himself in front of a female student. He'll probably end up with a lot of those because of it. That doesn't bother me much; if it did, I would just pop on down to the airport to bring them all a snack and make myself known. He's a good guy and knows what he's got in me.
On jetcareers, someone made a comparison that was interesting and seems right on. The private pilot students are like your children. They arrive with no skills, you spend a lot of time with them (two months or so) to teach them everything you know. Then you see them progress and you feel the pride of a parent. Add on students are like step children. They arrive out of the blue, you have no idea where they've been and what they've been taught. You spend a few days with them, teach them what you can and send them on their way.

The amount of time he is spending at the airport is definetly taking it's toll on everyone physically. We are all exhausted and he rarely has much time for us, which we all feel and hate. He comes home so tired that all he wants to do is go to bed. I've pretty much had to take over all of the household duties for the time being. I'm willing to do it for a few months, to get us through this stage, but it will not become a forever thing. If we are both working full time, it will be a 50/50 split. He knows I would never stand for that. In the meantime, I'm plying him with healthy food and vitamins to keep him going and plying myself with nice shopping trips at the mall to keep my lonliness at bay. As if I needed an excuse for that!

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I have trouble with patience. I will admit that to anyone right up front. I can wait for great lengths of time for some things, but can hardly wait an hour for other things. This ties into my hatred of suprised and guessing games. I HAVE to know what is happening at all times, when it's going to start, when it's going to end and what to expect. I can hold off, as long as I know when it WILL be my turn. Just my quirk I guess.

So now that A is a CFI, I'm already going nuts. It's only been a few weeks and it's already wearing on me. Not so much the 14-16 hour days, 7 days a week that he's working, nor is it not knowing how long we'll be doing this for (although I'm sure that will start up soon enough). It's the little crap like- is he going to be home for dinner or not? Not knowing what to plan for is killing me. He tries to keep me updated, but when he's with a student flying or in the sim, it's hard to keep track of time and impossible to call and update me. So it's hard to plan anything because I never know his evening ETA. At least if he had a jet job, I'd know when he was off and on. All mine vs. the companies. But right now we are at this blurry in between stage.

I do my best to forgive him when I get angry about things related to timing. I know it's not his fault and things aren't exactly the way he would like them either. He forgives me for my temper and knows it's the situation I'm angry at and not him personally. It's not him being gone that bothers me so much (we've done the long distance thing before), it's the being unsure of when he'll be available. If I knew he was arriving at 8:15 on Flight 123 and he would be mine for 3 days and then be gone again, it would be easier to deal.

We have so many plans for the future and none of them currently have an ETA. I'm 30 and he's 35. We want to have more children. Can't do that until he's got a stable job (at least as stable as we can get in this industry) and I can stop working. Can't do that until he gets hired somewhere. Can't do that until he has enough hours to apply. And we are working on that. At least having some forward momentum makes it feel like we are getting somewhere and will arrive eventually.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Where will he end up today?

Now that A is actually out flight instructing, I get calls like this:

Someday: Hello, this is Someday, how can I help you?

A: Hi babe, it's me, I'm in Stuart

S: Hey, what are you doing there?

A: Well, we were going to fly to Atlanta to deliver a package, but the weather looked bad so they sent us to Stuart instead.

S: Oh, ok, ummm, where is Stuart again? I know you've been there before.

A: South FL, about 2 hours away. I have to go, there is no place to eat lunch here, so we want to get back to Jax and eat. And beat the afternoon storms

S: Oh, ok, well have a nice flight, talk to you later.

They say that good communication is key to having a successful relationship with a pilot. I wonder if this counts.

Tomorrow me and Kidzilla are flying out to San Francisco for a friends wedding. It will be the first time I've been there in 8 months so I'm excited to see lots of friends. I have some busy days planned. It's kind of exciting that, since I'm flying Continental/ExpressJet, I may actually know one of the pilots. It would be a random fluke, but you never know. We know more than a few who are flying for them now. It will be interesting to see, as we progress in the industry, how often that happens.

I've gotta get packing.

Friday, September 8, 2006


A lot of people have asked me "Someday, why did you up and move to Florida instead of keeping the life you had and sending A off to flight school alone". Two reasons- it was the right time in my life for a major change and I'm a control freak.

I was newly divorced, living in the house I had shared with my former spouse, trying to put my life back together. After 13 years, there were memories in every corner of our house and our neighborhood. It felt like it was time to break free and be in a place where I wouldn't constantly be reminded of what had been. I had been at my job for 5 years and it had become routine. I wasn't interested in moving up to my boss' job and there wasn't anywhere laterally to go. And I just wasn't interested in a long distance relationship with someone on the other side of the country. Moving gave us an opportunity to build our relationship as free as we possibly could be of reminders of other relationships (well, beside that pesky kid from a prior relationship issue...). We didn't kill each other on the 5 day drive out. In fact, I don't think we even argued. That was a good sign.

I also knew that unless I was there to actually see what was going on, I would be preoccupied with wanting to know what was going on in Jax. Not that I was concerned about infidelity, it was more of just general nosiness. If something was happening to someone close to me, I wanted to know all about it. I would have gone nuts not knowing what the daily grind entailed. Was he studying? Should he be? What does the hanger look like? What does a sim look like? Are wild dogs ravaging the apt and he's running around in a paper sack because I haven't been there to clean and do laundry? (Yes, he is more grown up than that and had lived on his own just fine, but I still like to think that his world would collapse if not for me...) Did he run off to GA with a hot flight attendant and is making up stories about his "training" ? I knew I would drive him nuts with my curious questions.

Part of my motivation was also selfish. I wanted to be with him. It's easier to parent when you have help part of the time vs. none of the time. At least if I was near, he'd be able to fawn over me occasionally. More often than if we were on opposite coasts. I'd be able to feel like more than just a money machine if I were out there interacting and taking care of him.

I've never regret taking the adventurous route and moving to FL instead of staying in my comfort zone in CA. And I'm looking forward to more adventures.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Quick turns

Regarding when A would actually be able to get out to the airport and start instructing after having been stuck in the office for 6 weeks:

Monday: We don't know yet, if that other guy got hired, we'll need someone.

Tuesday: We need three instructors for next week since we're on the verge of losing 3. You have 3 days to practice in the Sim, prepare for your instructor standardization, and read the manuals on the seminoles (dual engine planes). We want you to standardize on the weekend and be at the airport monday.

Wednesday: Be at the airport tomorrow to standardize on the cessnas (single engine) because we need you to co-teach the new private pilot class starting on monday.

Sheesh, one would think they could plan a little farther in advance. BUT, since I'm not there, I have to reserve judgement. So goodbye to any evening plans for us for the rest of the week as he is simming and prepping. The good news is, the private pilot program is not as intense as some of the other ones (like doing add-on ratings) so at least he won't be stressed over impending student check-rides right away. This will give us time to ease back into the stress and absence.

Aviation has infiltrated our lives! The other eveing, A was helping M clean up his room. I kept hearing A make radio calls (Alpha four niner six turn right heading six one... roger that, heading six one alpha four niver six...) and I went in to see what was going on. M was standing at his kitchen sorting peas, carrots and mushrooms into the appropriate containers and A was sitting on the bed talking. I watch for a minute and when A finally noticed me, asked what was up. And he says "oh, I'm just trying to distract him and give him practice at tuning out background noise, so he'll be able to focus when he's a pilot" Oh, umm, OK, whatever... The funny part was that I just accepted this as logical and plausible and walked out without batting an eye.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

The waiting game

We are currently stuck, waiting for an instructor spot to open at the school so that A can start building his hours. One of the instructors had an interview this past weekend that most likely went favorably. A is next in line in seniority, so if this instuctor does leave, it'll open up the spot for him. Hopefully we'll get good news.

The downside though is that the hours will be inconsistent and voluminous. Basically he'll be on call 24/7 to teach. Someone has to teach people to do night flying and depending on what's going on, sim sessions from 2-4am are not unheard of. That means no more 6pm dinners and weekends off for us. I'll go back to having to act as a single parent, being unable to rely on him for daycare pick-ups and zoo trips. I know this will be hard for A as well. He really wants to spend time with his family and not being able to seems to bother him more than it bothers us. It is a hard life to lead, but I know the payoffs will be worth it. I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for this.

Friday, September 1, 2006

How did it get to this

Just over a year ago, in August 2005, I turned to my boyfriend of 8 months and uttered those crazy words- "look, if you really want to be a pilot, then let's make it happen, otherwise, quit talking about it because I'm tired of hearing about it already." Once he got over the utter shock of what I had just said, we started making plans. It hasn't always been easy, but here we are, a year later, with him as a CFI working toward his lifelong dream.

The few months following that decision were hectic and unsettled at best. We decided that he should start the program in feb. 06, giving us 5 months to arrange financing, a cross country move, renting out a house, and numerous other details, along with maintaing our fledgling relationship. And people told me I was crazy, moving cross country with him, encouraging him to leave a well paying job to return to school, leaving my own job and family. But I knew in my heart that we could make this work. When someone holds onto a dream for so many years and then is finally give a chance to go after it, they will do whatever they can to attain it. Even he didn't believe that I was encouraging him to do this. No one ever had. I asked if he would have any qualms if I wanted us to move to Wyoming so I could follow my lifelong dream of studying sheep husbandry (I was searching for the most off the wall career I could think of) and he said no. Then I asked why he thought that I should be any less committed to his dream. That settled it.

In the ensuing rush we: failed to qualify for traditional financing so had to find a new creative method arranged an equity line of credit, found a rental agency to rent the house, notified our friends and family, negotiated for out of state child custody of my son, all moved in together to my house, sold all our belongings and bought new ones, make a weekend trip to FL to check out the school/find an apartment/find a preschool, rented a truck, loaded our belongings and drove 2500 miles (with a cat) to resettle, temporarily, in Jacksonville, FL. With a sigh of relief that we had managed everything, we settled in for him to start school in early Feb 06.

It's now been 6 full months and we are going strong. He attained all of his ratings: private pilot, commercial pilot, instrument pilot, flight instructor and aviation has thoroughly invaded most facets of our life. I tried my best to teach him to "leave it at the door" but in reality, most days it gets tracked in, the same what the humid FL air seeps in through the cracks in the door. But that's ok, we are all getting used to it. Currently, he's hired as an instructor and is working for phone center for the school waiting for an instuctor spot to open up.

I'm loving this taste of the 8-5 life once again, but I know it's not here to stay. Once he's instructing, it will be back to 24/7 on call for aviation. But to see how happy he is and to know how proud of him I am, all of the changes we had to make to get here seem worth it.