Oct 4, 2011

Busy and Stressful - The dark before the dawn?

So life is a little busier than usual at the moment.

Two jobs, four days of flying over the weekend, birthday party this weekend (which isn't even my own) and then either Oktoberfest in Brisbane or #OccupyBrisbane protest the following weekend. I seriously do not have the money for everything and am struggling time wise. Yet I am still making blog posts. There is something very therapeutic about it all really.

This weekend of flying has been by far the most stressful experience of my flying career to date. I do not know why but my standards have dropped sharply over the past month since my last couple of flights. I was not at a commercial standard at the beginning of September, but it just seems that I have taken a major step backwards somewhere along the lines. It could be that the stress is getting to me but it just seems that things are not sticking as they should be, that things that I once knew rather well just are not coming back to me as quickly as expected.

Friday was an abomination. It was turbulent but I should not have had the problems with handling that I had. Things went south as soon as I started the engine. Mental flow checklists were out of order and disjoineted, as was my pax brief and after take off checks. I stuffed up radio calls. Worse than usual. I got to the first point and couldnt see the damn objective- mind you it was a 15-20 meter tower on a side of a hill sandwiched right up against Amberly CTR so it was not the easiest objective to find. Once I saw it, I tried and failed at holding over the top of it. Could not hold my altitude to save myself, didnt configure the plane correctly for slow speed orbiting and was too preoccupied with what was coming next that I did not keep my mind on what I needed to do at that point in time. It was like I was trying to get a private license all over again. It was terribly demoralizing and I bailed on the flight. Still took a couple of hours to get back to Redcliffe though and still was expensive. I cancelled the night flight I was supposed to take also.

Saturday and Sunday had some briefs and remedial training to try and fix up what was wrong with my technique, yet with work and sleep I did not have the time to do the study required. It was almost a complete waste of my time, the instructors time and of my money. And I got chewed out a bit over it also.

Monday (yesterday) was terrible also -but there was some improvement to be had. The plane was due for a 50 hourly oil change and check so that made me late right from the start. I had the plan and everything done with plenty of time and sat down reading the club's ops manual for a bit. Once the prescribed time for pickup came around, I went to grab the plane from the maintainence mob but still ended up sitting out the front for 10 mins. So much for prompt service. Got stuck behind a beginner student learning to refill a plane at the bowser for another 10 minutes after that so by the time I got into the plane and was ready for takeoff, I had missed my slot time for Brisbane Airport. No big deal, these things happen. The problem was when I was doing my runups and the instructor asked me about the oil in the engine - which I never checked on account of personally picking it up from the maintainers. This is of course a major no no. So I got chewed out by the instructor. Then I was made to check the oil myself, on the taxiway and consequently made myself late for the next slot time that I was given. This caused me to be chewed out by the controller at Brisbane for missing two slot times - and then a further chewing out from the instructor.

Needless to say I was feeling pretty shit about the whole flight by then and questioning my skills as a pilot, my knowledge and my career choice. The past month has been the first time in three years that I have questioned if I have made the right decision to follow my dreams and become a commercial pilot. It is a definite low point in my journey. But there have been other aviators throughout history to struggle with money and performance issues. One of which was Sir Charles Kingsford Smith. So the show must go on and I need to apply myself further to reach my goals.

The rest of the flight was a struggle - after already becoming overly stressed in the beginning of the flight, I became distracted and it ended up with me becoming lost just west of Mundubbera. A 1 in 60 check put me slightly too far to the east of my desired target and without realising this at a very distinctive land feature I ended up about 10 miles to the east, unsure of where I was and so stressed that I could not pull myself out of it without prompting from the instructor. Had I have been alone I would have been reduced to flying east until I hit a landmark I recognised or until I hit coast. I landed in Mundubbera and had a chat with the instructor. It did help clear my mind a little and the leg from Mundubbera to Kingaroy and on to home was a lot better - until I ended up being cut off by a line of thunderstorms.

I managed this part of the flight OK as it was fairly close to the area I live in and I could pick out landmarks such as Somerset Dam, Wivenhoe Dam and the Glasshouse Mountains pretty easily. The diversion around the storms added about another half hour to the flight which I certainly was not happy about. Better than dying though. Got back on the ground to another chewing out by my instructor for not studying enough for his liking over the weekend and not improving enough. It is good that I have expectations put on me and that he is pushing me to get better at managing the flight but by that stage I just wanted to go home and sleep. I was stuffed, stressed and kind of depressed.

I have a lot of notes on what I need to study and I need to get that squared away before turning up there again for another flight. But I still plan to get it done in a couple weeks and get back to flying. Any longer and any progress I may have made this weekend will be lost.

Tomorrow is my 24th birthday. 24, living at home and still not where I need to be. This has been a rather depressive post but it is reflecting my thoughts at the moment. I never thought I would be where I am today (the good bits that is) but I always thought that I would be settled in my career and be ready to settle down with a girl, get a house and start on a couple of kids. It is a little sobering to realise that for that to happen, I have 12 months from tomorrow. I haven't even bothered trying to organise a party. Just a family gig at home.

The little I have played of Gears 3 has been awesome. I love how Epic have made you happy to see a swarm of Locust bearing down on you - because god damn are the Lambent that much more annoying! I cannot wait to finish campaign and get into some online matches. I severely doubt I will have the time this summer to play all the games I want to get into - let alone have the spare coin to be able to purchase them!

Oct 1, 2011

Warning. Photo spew incoming

 Yeah I know. Its a bit much. But hey- I am too lazy at the moment to post something else