Have you ever wanted something so badly that it consumes every waking moment? It might even consume your dreams as it has mine. I want to solo so badly I can taste it. Brent Owens says it perfectly on his blog http://iflyblog.com/2014/04/04/solo-flow/ , that “…it’s one of the few things that drives you to a single focus.” This has been in the back of my mind since I found his blog right after I started flying lessons.
I can relate to this as over the last couple weeks; I’ve been focusing every ounce of energy and time into this one goal. I’m training more in the air, watching landing videos and studying all the materials that I have for this one moment. It’s a time of anxiousness because I want it, but I also want to be ready for it when it comes too.
I think what drives those of us that are still training crazy, gets us anxious and ends up slowing us down in the process, is our own expectations. You hear about people who soloed in under 10 hours and you think there’s something wrong with you when you’re not one of the chosen few. We get it into our heads that we should be able to do this just like our friends and we begin to doubt ourselves along the way. It’s not that we’re doing badly, we’re just not getting it down as quickly as we’d like and we get disappointed. I know that I have had some doubting moments over the past week and I have asked my instructor if I’m ever going to get this down. He has never doubted me or questioned whether I will solo or not. You would think that would ease my mind, but doubt hovers like a cancer and rises in my chest and wants to choke the life out of my dreams. It’s suffocating at times.
I finally had to take a step back and assess my position. I have to remember that I had never flown in a small plane nor been in a cockpit until two months ago. Flying a plane is complex. There are multiple instruments you have to watch and read during flight. It’s not like you have an understanding of those without a little training or studying. I only have a few hours in a plane even now. Why on earth would I think that I could learn to do this in under 10 hours? Okay, so I did pick up on takeoff and flying in general relatively quickly but landing, well, that’s just taking me a little longer to get the hang of doing than I had anticipated. It frustrates me to the point that it sets me back when I forget to just have fun and fly the plane.
It’s time to refocus and build confidence again. All of us that put ourselves under this kind of stress need to remember, we’re already piloting an airplane and we weren’t doing so that long ago. I, for one, am not ready to be a quitter, because I don’t quit. I have not come this far to give in to the people that thought I’d never get this done in the first place. I’ve been doing good landings, just not consistent enough yet, but I will. I will do this and I will get it right. I still don’t have 20 hours yet, so what if I do this in average time? It doesn’t mean I’m any less a pilot than the ones that master it quickly. It doesn’t mean that I’m not as good or have the potential to be even better at piloting than some of them. It means I am every bit as successful as anyone else that has soloed, no matter how many hours that is when it arrives.
Pep talk complete, am I ready to do this thing? Yes, I am. I’ll keep you posted on my progress and I’ll still be proud when I solo even if it takes me longer than I thought it should have taken me. Maybe I shouldn’t think about how many hours I have at all, maybe I should just focus on flying a plane and let it come naturally.
For those that are like me and just starting out, don’t let discouragement get in the way of your training. There are always good days and bad days. You can’t enjoy the good days without the bad ones. Just maybe you need to remember like me, that we shouldn’t wear the hours of others around our necks like a ball and chain, maybe we should trust that our instructors understand when we’re ready better than we understand it. In the end, it’s safer and we all accomplish the same end goal, to solo.
“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” by Eric Thomas
*Special thanks to Brent Owens at http://fixedwingbuddha.com/ for his great blog and allowing me to reference his Solo-Flow article.