As far as instrument rating lessons go I’m pushing on. At times it has been frustrating and disheartening. Especially when you study and mentally rehearse, aka chair fly, a selection of approach plates and then get into the simulator or aircraft and feel like your just not performing as expected or even leave a lesson feeling that it was an absolute disaster and waste of time.
On those days I have to give it a few hours then analyze the lesson and select things I did ok on and what I can improve on and take each moment as a building block of the whole. As a whole I’m assured that I’m making progress and am not outside the realm of “normal”. For now I’ll take that!
My instructor, an excellent pilot from Dream Flight School, also on FaceBook, encouraged me to plan some flights on my own to log some of my required cross country pilot in command hours. My assignment was to challenge myself with navigating various controlled airspace, use air traffic control ATC services, and become more comfortable using the autopilot and advanced Garmin G1000 avionics to control the flight systems. Assignment accepted!
I booked 5 days in addition to my twice a week lessons in June through July. The first day I had to cancel as the weather just wasn’t acceptable. Another day I was organizing a transport for the coming week for Pilot n Paws but we just couldn’t get that one to fruition. Then came the opportunity I had been waiting for; a chance to use my pilot certificate to assist a dog in need for an organization that served as the inspiration for my desire to obtain my pilot’s certificate and embark on a lifelong dream of flying dogs in need to foster homes and furever homes.
We have two Coonhounds, a Treeing Walker and a Black and Tan Coonhound; their pictures are at the top of this blog’s main page. Both are rescued dogs from an incredible nonprofit organization ran by inspirational leaders who tirelessly work to save coonhounds and bloodhounds across America: American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue ABTCR.
I received a message from ABTCR on the June 20th that they had a redbone coonhound in a shelter in Virginia that desperately needed a ride to a foster home in Atlantic City, NJ. Volunteers at the shelter had contacted ABTCR requesting assistance and a foster home had been located. I coordinated with ABTCR, the volunteers at the shelter, and the wonderful foster mom and dad who had opened their home to this beauty in her time of need. In two short days everything fell into place, I made all the necessary flight plans and was honored to do my little part in making this all happen.
The mission couldn’t have been more perfect. It required careful planning to fly through the DC SFRA Special Flight Rules Area created post 9/11 around our nations capital and through the overlapping Class B controlled airspace surrounding Baltimore International BWI, Dulles International IAD, and Washington DC DCA airports. Then into a busy Class D airport Lynchburg Regional KLYH. After picking up our pawsenger we would have to fly back through the DC SFRA and Class B airspace and into Atlantic City International Airport KACY. This would be my 1st flight into an international airport and it would be all alone as a single pilot. I would need to apply all the skills I had learned over the past year and work with air traffic controllers to a level I had not yet experienced to date. In total the flight would cover 543 nautical miles in 4 hours 58 minutes airtime including 3 legs and 6.4 hours of aircraft engine time.
So that’s it. I’m honored to have had a part in this and am energized, inspired, and focused after having it go so well.
Though I still need to do a lot of work on my camera techniques and film making abilities I did manage trim down 5 hours of footage into a short video of the transport flight (13:25). See the following blog post for that video.
I want to take a moment to thank the excellent pilot training I have received and continue to receive at Dream Flight School, for the trust and belief placed in me by ABTCR especially by Deb Young and Jayne Schlegel (truly exceptionally inspiring individuals), and to the one who believed in me during training when I often didn’t believe in myself and without whom I probably would have quit a few times over, my partner Laura Beck.