What I really learned getting my pilots license!

Illustration of a pilot in a cockpit, symbolizing the experience of getting a pilot's license

What I Really Learned About Getting My Pilot’s License

I’ve been relatively silent about my journey to becoming a pilot recently.

Partly due to the challenges I’ve been encountering, partly because of my hectic schedule, and partly because of feelings of embarrassment.

As you may already be aware, we purchased a twin-engine Cessna back in late April. However, we haven’t had many opportunities to use it thus far.

You see, I had been collaborating with a local instructor. I supported and assisted him in obtaining his multi-engine instructor qualification, using our plane for training.

Then, about 1.5 months after he received his instructor’s license, I went for a lesson on Tuesday. The next day, I received a call from him: “Hey Dan, do you have a moment to talk?”

He went on, “I have decided to step down from my role as an instructor. I will still oversee my flight school, but I won’t be conducting any more instruction.”

Despite my efforts to persuade him to continue working with me, I couldn’t change his mind. I exhausted all my attempts.

To put it mildly, I felt deflated.

On that very day, I began reaching out to contacts nationwide, searching for someone willing to assist me in obtaining multi-engine certification directly.

However, the response I received repeatedly was: “We’d be glad to assist you once you obtain your single-engine certification.”

Although I trusted that God had a plan, at that moment, I couldn’t discern what it was.

After spending another week searching nationwide, I shifted gears once more and connected with another local instructor who could assist me in obtaining my single-engine certification.

Following our initial lesson and experiencing the close quarters of the single-engine aircraft (which I humorously refer to as a “pop can” due to its compact size), I was determined to complete my multi-engine certification.

I promptly scheduled a check ride (test) for September, as there was only one local tester available in the area. Feeling adequately prepared for the examination, I eagerly awaited the day.

Upon arrival, I managed to pass the test, but just barely. To put it mildly, it was not a graceful performance.

Continuing to refine my skills in single-engine flying, the very next day, after passing my single-engine check ride, I began searching for a fast-track program to obtain my multi-engine certification.

I came across numerous options, but they were all fully booked until the middle of January.

Then, by what seemed like either sheer luck or divine intervention, I stumbled upon a school in Florida offering a fast-track program with an available slot in mid-October.

When I inquired whether it was feasible to obtain the “add-on” multi-engine certification within a week, they assured me it was possible, albeit with an intense schedule ahead.

I consider myself quite driven and resilient, so I wasted no time in signing an agreement with them, purchasing tickets, arranging for transportation, and securing accommodation in the area.

With everything set up, there wasn’t much else to do until my arrival.

Upon reaching the destination on the first morning, I obtained my high-performance rating before noon. The very same afternoon, we dove straight into multi-training.

For the following four days, I dedicated over 8 hours each day to training in a multi-engine aircraft. We conducted 7-8 stalls daily, frequently simulating engine failures. Additionally, I executed over 50 landings and immersed myself in extensive ground school sessions to ensure readiness for the exam.

It’s worth noting that during this period, my team back home exhibited outstanding performance in managing the business. After wrapping up the day’s training, I would head straight home, prepare dinner, and then delve into work tasks until well past 10 p.m., catching up on everything I missed.

Furthermore, I would rise at 4-5 am to study for the upcoming day’s lessons and finalize pending work matters.

Jenna took charge of our bustling household throughout the entire week. She’s an incredible person and an outstanding wife. I feel incredibly fortunate to have her as my partner in every aspect of my life. Her unwavering support, along with the support from our kids, has been truly remarkable.

To put it mildly, it was an exhausting week.

Once, while flying out to inspect the ocean, the instructor deliberately shut off the fuel to one engine. I immediately detected the alteration and began troubleshooting. Upon realizing the fuel was off, I promptly inquired whether she preferred me to restart the engine or shut it down completely.

Her response was affirmative: “You handled it excellently; you can restart it.”

Just two days before the check ride, my initial examiner contacted the school, stating he was unwell and unable to conduct any examinations.

In response, they reached out to their network and managed to secure a replacement examiner in another city. This individual turned out to be an exceptional corporate pilot responsible for flying the New York Yankees. He served as their primary pilot.

While performing the maneuvers during the check ride, I was nearing completion. We were preparing to land and conclude the test when a minor issue arose with our landing gear.

Ideally, we should have observed three green lights, but we only saw two. I followed protocol precisely and thoroughly checked everything. Subsequently, we made the decision to conduct a flyby of the tower, allowing them to inspect the gear and confirm if all three wheels were down.

As we passed by, they confirmed that it appeared all three wheels were down. Therefore, we opted to proceed with the landing.

The descent was remarkably smooth, resulting in what was likely the smoothest landing I’ve ever experienced. We gracefully touched down on the runway, gently lowering our noses.

Thankfully, the landing gear held up. As we taxied towards the parking spot, we took the corners cautiously, as the examiner cautioned that if the gear were to fail, it would likely happen during the turns.

After parking, we conducted a thorough inspection of the gear and concluded it was secure and safe for flight. However, during the flight back home, we intentionally kept the gear down.

I am immensely grateful for the unwavering support system at home and for everything Jenna has done to make this journey possible. She is the ideal partner for me, and I feel incredibly blessed by God to have her in my life.

Ultimately, I’ve come to understand some of the reasons why God intervened in my initial plans.

  1. Perseverance leads to achievement; where there’s a will, there’s a way.
  2.  You can inspire others to improve, but you can’t force them to make the right choices. While you can lend a hand, individuals must have the desire to progress to the next level.
  3.  Sometimes, slowing down is the wisest course of action. Rushing often leads to oversight and vulnerability.
  4. Most importantly, my appreciation for the multi-engine plane has significantly increased compared to if I had obtained my certification immediately. I now understand its capabilities and the importance of vigilance. Speed amplifies the pace of events, necessitating heightened awareness.
  5. Place your trust in God’s plan; every action has a purpose. Trust Him with everything, and He will provide.
  6. A strong support system is indispensable for success. Jenna and the kids’ encouragement was invaluable, and I couldn’t have achieved it without them. Never underestimate the importance of your support network.

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