Time flies! I say it all the time and I think it just gets worse as I get older...and when I discover it's BFR (biannual flight review) time again! The other day, I was sitting at my desk at work and said,
"Wow! It's been two years since I became a commercial pilot!" Then there was a pause and probably a look of confusion on my face, "Wait a minute...wasn't that in June?
Oops. A quick look through my blog and I discovered that yes, I was in desperate need of a flight review! I quickly lined up my friend, Joe, to fly as my CFI and then the next step was finding an airplane as my company plane was down. My friend from the 99s, Lin, has a beautiful G1000 Cessna 182 that she did not hesitate to offer me. Upon looking through my logbook, I discovered that I had yet to receive my high performance endorsement. So Joe agreed to work on that with me, too. I have to say, my friends rock!
We arrived at the airport at 7pm and I was a bit stressed that day, which didn't make for a organized Victoria while getting the plane all ready. After a good walk around, hopping in the C182 and pulling out the checklist, I realized I had forgotten the keys in the (now locked) hangar. Oy. When I got back in, Joe gave me a gentle "breathe" and we continued on.
The G1000 can look overwhelming to get started, but I followed the checklist religiously and it was a breeze. When doing my instrument training in 2005 I had used a Cessna 172 with G1000 on several occasions, including for one cross country, but it had been so long it felt completely new to me once again. I remembered, though, despite not flying the G1000 in awhile and having no experience in a C182, that it is still an airplane, they all work on the same basic principals, so I knew I still could fly it. The V speeds and pattern speeds were all just about 10 knots faster than the C172, so it was a quick adjustment.
We departed to the practice area to do some steep turns and stalls. I was pretty disappointed in my steep turns, as they usually are my favorite maneuver. The C182 was a bit heavier and I found keeping it on the ball to be difficult. I ended up laughing at what we had to dub my "rudder dance". After a few rounds, they became acceptable and we did a few stalls without a hitch. I found that not focusing on the video game like screens in the cockpit and looking outside became an additional challenge.
Soon, it was time to do some landings. This I was worried about as I know how I am with new aircraft. I become "afraid of the ground" and always end up high on final and flare too soon. The C182 is a tad nose heavy as well, so I had the additional concern of not slamming the nosewheel down. Although I was high on all three landings and did flare a tad too soon, they were pretty smooth with only a slight bounce. My focus on the nosewheel prevailed and it was always the last thing to gently contact the earth. We did two power off 180s, the first ended in a go around and the second I hit the 1,000' mark. It was a great way to relive my commercial training and do some slips to lose altitude quickly.
No, it wasn't my best flight and I was hard on myself at first. But as I look back on yesterdays flight it is exactly what I wanted and needed. It is very easy to become complacent when you fly the same plane(s) regularly on cross country hops. The BFR work helped me knock off rust on maneuvers and practices that make me a better, well rounded pilot. I had been missing the challenge of aviation maneuvers and that of learning a new aircraft and earning a new endorsement. So, while my work had moments of suckiness, I still ended up enjoying the flight, because in the air I am free and I am challenged. Flying helps me become the best person (not just pilot) that I can be. The post BFR Hershey's ice cream didn't hurt either ;)