Thursday, March 29, 2007

Semantics and being helpful

First off, the A/C is on the fritz here in the office. I feel like a menopausal woman having hot flashes with all the on/off it's been doing today. So if this post leans towards the negative, chalk it up to that.

As I posted earlier, A received no study materials beyond a snappy cockpit poster when he was hired by XJet. Which was good for me b/c it took away the "I'm studying" excuse for not getting things done b/f he was due to leave. So last night, getting into bed, he says to me "Oh, I forgot to tell you- I got the call from XJ". Hmm, the call? I started racking my brain- were we expecting a call? Was there a reason they were calling? The Call sounds pretty ominous. "A call" sounds friendly, chatty, a reminder, but "The call" sounds scary, weighted, so important that it needs to be written as THE CALL. Husbands, please keep in mind the semantics of "a call" vs. "THE CALL" to avoid freaking out your wives.

So what was this mysterious call about? XJet was calling to a)verify that he would be starting on 4/2 and b)let him know that they were mailing him out his study materials. Um, yeah. So he can get them 2 days before he gets there? Seriously, why didn't they save the cost of mailing all those out and just hand them out at training. Maybe, with the money they saved, they could have sprung for hotel rooms with mini-fridges for the duration of training. Instead of forcing everyone to eat out for 6 weeks straight. I'm just sayin'...

Seems like a rash of women on the forum (formerly have been having husband issues this week. Must be spring fever kicking in or something. I've been posting b/c I actually feel like I have something to contribute beyond "wow, sucks to be you right now". It makes me feel good to actually be able to give some useful advice. I'm sure everyone will weather their rough spots just fine.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I did it!

A took M and I up for the first time yesterday. We went in an Archer III. And it wasn't as scary as I thought it was going to be. I didn't get sick either, although I have a few queasy episodes when we did sharp turns. In fact, I wasn't freaked out at all. It was interesting to see Jax from the air and I was able to identify all of the roads and stuff easily. We flew over the apt, work, preschool (M's request), the beach. I think it was reassuring that he knew the area so well. And it was cool to see the other GA planes around. M's favorite part was when we overtook a bird in the air. I'm actually looking forward to going up again.

M did get sick twice- thank goodness for ziplock bags. He was sitting in the backseat and we think it was the not looking out the window enough and focused too much on watching the GPS. We landed and walked around at another airport for a bit and he felt better in the fresh air. But shortly after take-off he was ill again. Guess we better invest in some dramamine. And consider mechanics school instead of flight schools.

A is home for another week. Nice to have the extra time with him, although it does mean he'll miss out on M's birthday party in two weeks. It's good that he'll be here for my surgery tomorrow though. That's a good trade off. We went out with other pilot friends Saturday night- it was fun and they did in fact talk about more than just aviation.

Friday, March 23, 2007


A called and told me that he has an appt today to go get checked out to rental a plane. He wants to take us up before he goes to training. I have to admit that, despite my pride in him and my belief that he is a great pilot, I haven't been able to get myself to actually go up with him. Despite my belief in the immersion methods of the school, his reassuring ability to rattle off complicated systems stuff and checklists, and the fact that he's been able to teach this stuff to a bunch of students, I've never felt comfortable enough to actually get up there myself. Maybe if there were two pilots up there in case something happened... But I'm going to face my fears and do it. I told him he'd better be sure to pack some windex, paper towels and airsick bags for when I inevitably vomit during a spin demo. At least A and M are super excited. I'm sure we'll be fine, I just have to get over this hurdle.

It hit me today as I was celebrating that it was the end of the workday that he really was going and might not be here at the start of the workday. I'm not worried- he was a batchelor for 5 years and I a single parent for 1 (even longer in practice)- I'm know we can each get by just fine. I'm going to have to work hard to keep my control freak tendencies in check while he's gone. Trust that everything is going good, trust that he can accomplish this, and trust that he can maintain his trust in me as well. His two previous long term relationships ended with a breach of trust and that's something we've been working on overcoming for a long time. At least I recognize that this will be a challenge and not just a breeze through. And I trust that we can get through it and come out stronger.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Aftermath

Well, it hasn't been anything so dramatic as an aftermath, but it's a good, catchy title.

I'll start with prior to the interview, sunday. A had to work a 1/2 day and then we procrastinated. Went to the mall, paid some bills, went out for ice cream... Finally around 7 or so we got down to business. I ws up until 10:30 or so doing internet searches for school phone numbers, zip codes and the like while he updated his log book. Then I went to bed and he continued updating his logbook. At about midnight he woke me up to put in the final tallies into his resume and flight grid.

A short 3.45 hours later, he was up to prep for his flight to Houston. Since our bathroom is off our bedroom, I was awake as well. He was out the door about 4:45am and except for a text msg around 11am, that was the last I heard from him for 12 hours. Somehow we both made it through the day on about 4 hours sleep.

I can't say much about what he said went on during the interview. Honestly, when he starts talking about aviation stuff, I tune out and just listen for important cue words. It's much the same way I tune our preschooler's incessent talking and listen for important word combinations like flush-toy-toilet or throw-cat-balcony.

What I heard of the interview would be- "Well first I filled out a lot of paperwork, then I waited around. Then I got called into the first room with a Captain and he asked me blah, blah, blah and I answered blah, blah, blah and he told me I told him more than he needed. Then I went into another room and the guy asked me blah, blah, blah..." Not an effective gouge. But whatever he said must have worked.

The big question now is, when is his starting date? We don't know. They are trying to do a double class starting on Monday (that's 4 days from now) but they aren't sure they can get approval. So they will let us know by Saturday if he has to be there for Monday's class.

Otherwise it'll be the following Monday, the 2nd. Yep, ok, glad to hear the run around continues on the regional level. So we are planning that he'll be there monday because it is inevitable that he will have to be if we don't plan for it. AND they are revamping the course, so they sent him home with a fine looking poster of the cockpit, but no other study materials. I guess they can't fault them if they don't have their flows and whatnot memorized prior to class. I'm sure he'll do fine.

Yesterday we hit our first snag too. As it turns out, I have to have another procedure done requiring anesthesia next week. Well, since A won't be here, I have to find someone else to be with me for the day, drive me there and back and pick up M from school. I've got AAA for the car, the maintance staff for the apt, babysitters for the kid, but no friends who are free during the day. So I'm working on finding a generous spirit to help me out. At least if he were on a schedule, I'd be able to reschedule for a day he was home, but nope, this has to come up right when he's leaving for 6 weeks. Thanks Murphy's Law! I <3 you too.

 At least I am able to get some satisfaction out of compling a big list of to-do's for him to complete before he leaves.

I'm so proud of him for working so hard to get us to this point. I knew it was going to be a good decision for us to come to FL.

Monday, March 19, 2007


After a late night, an early morning, and a 6 hour wait, A finally got his interview. And got hired with ExpressJet! 18 months after we made the decision to follow this dream, we achieved his goal. I can't believe we are here.

Details are sketchy at this point; he won't be home for another 4 hours. But right now is a nice feeling.

Have to start thinking of a new name for the blog.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


I swear, not even an hour after I posted about A having the weekend off to study, I found out that plans had, again, changed. He ended up working about 11 hours yesterday and (hopefully) just a half day today. This is the part where being a CFI sucks. You are at the whim of the students training needs. At least the way his school organizes things. So the latter half of the day will be spent getting paperwork together, updating logbooks and that sort of thing. Let me try and muster some excitement for that. I'm torn, he left all this stuff until the last minute. Should I help him out or make him stay up all night doing it himself. Is this the right time to teach him a lesson about procrastination?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Waiting it out

A should be done flying with what will hopefully be his last student on his last flight as a CFI. He has the weekend off to "study". Which means lazy breakfasts at Waffle House, "quick" errand trips with M and I that turn into 1/2 day trips and probably celebrating St. Paddy's day at a local bar. And very little studying. That always seems to happens when he has time off on the weekends... But it may very well be the last chance for us to hang out as a family for a while. I'd rather take the opportunity and then repeat it again when it turns out it wasn't our last opportunity then to miss it.

Conversation I had recently (may be TMI...)- Did his being a CFI effect our sex life since he was home every night unlike being an airline/freight pilot? The answer is yes, or should I say YES. And I don't think that either of us would say it was in a positive way. A girl only has so many weapons to counteract stress and fatigue. And this girl has an expansive repretoire of tricks...

Hoping for good news on monday.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Friend got hired yesterday. There is potential they will be in the same class after all. Like gossip, aviation news seems to travel (and change) quickly.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


A prediction for sunday evening at our place-

S- so uh, do you have everything laid out for tomorrow? What are you going to wear?

A- suit and a tie

S- which tie? are you going to go with the red tie or a blue tie? (said with a smirk, knowing the turn the conversation is about to take)

A- I don't have a red tie. What should I do? Do I have to wear a red tie? Everyone else wears a red tie. What if I wear a blue tie?

... begin descent into chaos. I can see it now.

Odds and ends

Lots of little things pop up here and there, but nothing worthy of an entire blog post. It's one of those weeks where things are just going.

A finally read this blog for the first time. In 6 months he's never read what I posted. He chuckled and remembered some of the incidents. And blessedly never said what I was dreading- "I can't believe you wrote that, take that off!"

I found a friend to commit to going to Vegas with me for Network JC in October. I really want to go but can't count on what A's schedule might be. He'll come if he's able. I'd be more worried about the combination of me and Mel going vs. me on my own. Double trouble. But hey, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas...

A and I are both sick with colds, A much worse than I am. At least if he has it now, he'll be done with it by next monday. He always gets colds much worse than I do- perhaps if he exercised and ate better he'd be able to handle them better. But I've already brought that up to him. Repeatedly. Currently he has no voice. And he's supposed to do ground school for two people today. Guess he'll be drawing a lot of pictures. At least he isn't up in the plane doing damage to his ears. Only a few more days to go and then he'll have the weekend off to study up.

One of A's friends is interviewing today. I hope it goes well for him. They were hoping they would be able to be in the same class, but it seems more likely that his friend will start a week ahead of him. Would be nice to room with and train with someone you are already familiar with, but I guess you take what you can get.

Another friend is home from training now, awaiting his IOE, and is driving everyone crazy b/c he is bored. I heard A tell him on the phone "well that will never happen to me, you know Someday will have a list a mile long of things for me to be doing." Yeah, that's probably true. But I'll leave him some downtime too. His friend also complained that his girlfriend wasn't sufficiently impressed with his new pilot uniform. I'll have to make up a story about wanting to fulfil some long repressed sexual fantasy about a pilot to make A feel good. If we are paying for the uniform, then darn it, we are getting our money's worth out of that thing.

I'm banking on there being at least a 2 week lapse between the interview and a class start date. I need A to take M out to see bio-dad in CA and also to get our taxes done and get me a more reliable car. All of these things are time sensitive. I hope I can work things out. It's unknown, of course, until the interview and all. I feel like i just go from obsessing about one thing to obsessing about another.

We've started getting info together and, as I thought, I'm having to compile and type things up. Oh well, it's for the good of us both so I may as well keep my nose in and make sure things go as smoothly as they can. Illness and anxiety are causing emotions to run high this week, but all will be resolved soon.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Deep Breath

Good news- we finally got the interview invite email. I'm excited. I knew my persistant email checking would finally pay off (yeah right...).

Currently gearing up for 11 days of nagging to get the logbook updated, references written, address and work history compiled, reviewing regs, et al. Wonder how much of this paperwork I'll end up doing.


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Fast paced schools- friend or foe?

There is a seemingly endless discussion on Jetcareers (although it's been quiet lately actually) and now it's been brought up on pilotfamilies as well about fast paced schools like ATP. Due to my intense fear of getting flammed, I choose not to particiapate in the discussion, despite having my own opinions. People either seem to love them or hate them. But I think that in a lot of cases, people who really have a bias against other things make these schools the scapegoats. Yes, the issues go hand in hand, but one is not the root cause of the other.

I think one of the biggest causes is that they are then turning out low time pilots who go on to get hired by airlines. Some people don't like it b/c they had to work harder to get hired than these low time guys. Is that the schools fault? Hardly. The most the school does is churn out the pilots with ratings. There is no guarentee that the pilot will get hired. The intent is for the student to continue building their skills through other flying jobs. The schools have nothing to do with the minimums that the airlines set for hiring. It's not like the regionals are sitting around saying "well, ATP is sending them out with only 300 hours, I guess we'll have to hire them with that then..." Yes, you may have had to go through a sting of crappy jobs flying pipelines or hauling scientists on whale watching duty, but is it a new person's fault that the industry requirements have changed? Hardly. Take it out on the airline, not the school.

Looking deeper, I can to examine my own bias' here and I can empathize with what some of these guys feel. I think about those ads I see for "get your BS degree in as little as 18 months" or "MBA in 1 years time". I went to college for 4 years to get a BS degree- do I think it's fair that someone should be able to get one in a shorter time? Not really. They should have to spend the same amount of time that I did. Do I feel maybe those people missed out on something by rushing through getting a degree and not taking as broad a range of classes? (those programs work by double dipping coursework and making all classes relevant to the study program- not just English 1A, but English 1A with a focus on the stuff you'd do as a XXX) Sure I do. If I met one of them would I feel superior because I had a "better" BS than they did? Secrectly- probably. Even though if it's an accredited school, the program has to meet specific guidelines just like my school had to.

Another big issue is the speed at which people complete the fast paced schools- usually 5-10 months and they have all their ratings. As opposed to people who take years to complete it through their local FBO. Just because it took you longer, does that mean you have more knowledge and are a better pilot? Probably not. A pilot with 300 hrs and 5 ratings has the same knowledge (in the theory anyway, the actual depends on who they learned from...) whether they got the hours in 3 months or 3 years.

The schools work on the principle of immersion. Aviation is ALL you think about. All day, every day. Flying, simming, ground school, studying. And for most, you live in an environment where everyone else is doing the same thing. When you focus on nothing but aviation, it's easier to remember the lessons and progress quickly; there is less having to go back and relearn what you did a week ago. Immersion is the same principle that the airlines use to train people. They take you out of your normal environment and put you in one where you and your peers are focusing on nothing but flying airplanes. There is no flying your regular route while also taking classes to upgrade or getting a new type rating- you focus on one thing at a time. If the airlines believe the principle works for their own training, why wouldn't they believe it works for other students?

Immersion education is hardly new and I am a firm believer. If you ever took a language in high school or college, how hard was it to learn when you only spoke it for 1 or 2 hours a day? Twice I went abroad as an exchange student and had a working fluency of the language in 6 weeks. When you are surrounded by what you are studying, it's a lot easier to learn. Language immersion schools are all over the place and in big demand. In the SF area, where we were, we had french, german, russian, chinese, japanese, and spanish immersion schools. Here in Jax, there are two seperate spanish immersion programs in the public school system. There are immersion schools for aviation mechanics, culinary arts, fashion and arts... proof that the concept works in a variety of settings.

Admittedly, the fast paced learning is not for everyone. Some people just can't learn quickly and need more time. It's an innate thing. I'm not ashamed to admit that I have the worst time learning new math concepts. Especially if its a new concept or you don't have a good base to build on. It is one of the fast-paced schools downfalls, especially in the area where A works- add ons. He has a set amount of time (usually a few days)Â to teach someone new skills. He doesn't have time to work on foundation skills that might be lacking that would help improve the new skills he's trying to teach. The school makes a promise and it's up to him to be able to fulfill it. He's definetly had some students that have needed more time, but have had to take check-rides. They would have been better off in a slower paced program. But are they bad pilots? Not necessarily.

I don't think that there is a resolution to the argument and I always read the discussions with interest. I'll probably end up posting more about it in the future. There are two quotes that came up in the last big discussion on JC. I don't have the inclination to make the effort to search and properly attribute the quotes to those who said them, but hey, it's just a blog after all. The first was "well planes don't seem to be falling out of the sky even though there are all these low time pilots flying them" and the second was "in a few months, that 400 hour guy will be just another 1000+ hours guy walking around and no one will think anything about him" In the end- if the person is a good pilot, where they got their training won't make a difference.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Still waiting

Still haven't heard anything from the airline. But a friend who applied a few days prior to A got his invite email, so I'm hopeful it will come soon. Patience grasshopper.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


Yeah! Movement on the application front. We moved from "added" to "screening". I hope even better news comes in the near future...