Well, I was going to write a nice little post about the new ETFO building on Isabella, which I had occasion to visit this morning, after dropping the boys at ROM camp (they’d had a sleepover at my place downtown, where I’ve been staying these two weeks before heading off to PEI, in order to get my PPL done for once and for all)…
But then the power went out, and in the middle of me cooking myself up a little potatoes, eggs and buttered broccoli to boot! So, instead, I wolfed down my (thankfully finished) boiled eggs, half-cooked potatoes, and very raw broccoli, put on my rain jacket, and headed outside to see what there was to see.
What there was to see was a lot of grey.
I wandered past neighbours visiting neighbours, peered through candle-lit windows, and trudged through the already-saturated grass of the nearby park to have a look at the two Porter planes that were lined up at the end of Taxi-way Alpha.
I’m not sure if they were lined up because of the thunderstorm, or the power outage, or what, but they sure were NOISY! (Especially without the hum of a hundred or more air conditioners to drown out the din. Let me just comment as an aside, that -- much as I am infatuated with aviation -- I do not subscribe to Bob Deluce’s “whisper quiet” promises… if these Dash 8’s are any indication of what the allegedly “silent” jets will be like, NO THANK YOU!!!)
In any case, I puttered about in the rain for a bit, then meandered back to the little town house I’ve been subletting across from the airport, to see if I couldn’t get a little more studying done and -- behold! The power is back on!
Pity flying can't be all fun and friends and flying clubs... I do love soaring high above the water and the city, and feeling like I can almost touch the clouds, as I did on my recent cross-country flight to Tillsonburg - Waterloo and back. And I enjoy my Saturday morning breakfasts and flights with the boys in the PEI flying club each summer...
But it's the math, the endless calculations that kill me in this crazy hobby of mine!
Behold Exhibit A, above, my planning sheet for the west cross country. This gal who dropped math -- much to my mother's chagrin -- in Grade 10, and swore up and down she'd never again play any sort of numbers game unless absolutely necessary, now spends hours and hours and HOURS filling in columns and calculating magnetic variation, weight and balance charts, wind corrections and other such nonsense, just so she can go on a wee, little flight to two nearby airports and back.
My brain is just not set up to work that way. Those muscles are not fit, haven't been used in decades, are cobwebby and hidden away in dark corners.
But somehow I do it... and each time I do, it becomes marginally less mysterious to me, and increasingly, I begin to see links, and am able to notice logical errors without my instructor screaming, "Whaaaaat?!" like I'm some kind of idiot.
And if I keep it up, I'll eventually have a real pilot licence. Amazing!
Oooooh, was it ever nice to be flying again this weekend!
The boys climb a tree near the playground city side, before heading over to CYTZ, where Tats took each of the four of them up in a Cessna 150 today. Boy, were they ever excited!
Once again I am surrounded by loud, annoying travellers. Louder, and more irritating, even, than I!
Stuck on board a 3 hr 45 minute flight from YYZ to YYC, we are seated behind two balding men in “cool” hoodies yelling to each other about investment strategies. Behind us are a woman and her heavily-made-up teenage daughter. The latter seems fearful of flying; the former is “soothing” her in a loud, abrasive voice.
I am not soothed.
The daughter keeps yapping for a while, and eventually drifts off to sleep. The mother continues to grate on everyone around her for about 20 more minutes, then she, too, settles down for a nap.
Soon the flight attendants come through with their cart of in-flight snacks available for purchase. The healthy, fresh, Asian vegetable wrap and cheese with fruit platter I had pre-ordered online at a savings of 50 cents a piece are not on board, nor is there any record of them, or of the other three pre-ordered meals on this flight. The flight attendant is very apologetic, and offers us complementary nacho chips and twizzlers, the only other “vegetarian” options on board.
Since I will be unemployed during our planned year in Argentina come Sept 2013, I am trying to generate some passive income, so that we are not all eating KD every day. One project I have been working on with my flight instructor is Online FTM, an online version of the Canadian Flight Training Manual.
Online FTM is the resource I wish I had had when I first began my flight training. It includes colourful, animated presentations for exercises corresponding to the FTM, along with a heavily annotated quiz for each exercise.
In addition to the lesson itself, each of the FTM chapters online includes relevant videos and/or links to other resources.
When I was first learning to fly, I spent hours sifting through garbage online, trying to find some sort of organized resource to supplement the dull reading I had to do before and after each lesson. Eventually, I spent nearly $100 for an online course that was helpful, but average at best when it came to content and visual appeal.
We're only charging $27 for Online FTM (we'll probably up the price as we finish the course and make little tweaks to improve the content and layout), which includes FREE email support from a certified flight instructor!!!
I hope you'll take a moment to check it out, or -- if you know anyone who is into flying airplanes -- please forward the link. Thanks!
I am thinking of quitting.
No, not smoking, flying!
Well… not even "flying", technically, but rather, I am thinking about quitting the pursuit of my PPL.
I love flying. Difficult as the learning process has been for me, it’s also provided me with endless inspiration, both in my writing, and in a more metaphysical sense. (I think learning to fly has made me a more “spiritual” person, has brought me a greater appreciation of God... or at least, of Mother Nature!)
But there comes a time in every major challenge worth pursuing – at least for a while – when one must consider when the end is near, and if that "end" is the accomplishment of the original goal, or if it is the decision to quit and make space for other goals.
I don't like the idea of "quitting", in and of itself. It feels so incomplete, somehow, so failure-like. But would be the cost of NOT quitting, in this case? The money and time I have spent on learning to fly has been robbed from other, also important and valuable pursuits: My children, my career, my musical hobbies, my work with multiples…. I didn’t mind putting some of those things on the backburner for a while, while I learned this incredible new thing. But as months turn into years, thanks to uncooperative weather, bouts of bad health, and a recurring shortage of funds, I have to ask myself “how much longer”?!
On the one hand, I feel like I would be giving up so much if I quit now: I’ve soloed, even flown a cross country all by myself!!! I passed a three-hour written exam I never thought possible! I understand (superficially) mathematical and physical concepts I was terrified or blissfully unaware of my whole life up to now… if I quit after all this, am I a total loser?! How will I face my many new Pilot friends in PEI this summer and tell them that I not only STILL do not have my PPL, but that in fact, I have chosen to stop chasing after it?!
On the other hand, I feel like if I don’t drop this all-consuming hobby, I will never play a Bach violin sonata on the xylophone, or sing in a choir, or play my drums ever again! If I don’t make space for some reading (not flight training manuals!!!) and thinking and writing at the end of a stressful day at a job that seems to be the target of attack from all angles these days, my ability to do so will shrink until I am no longer able to write a coherent, grammatically correct or even mildly interesting sentence. And if I voraciously check the weather report every Sunday morning to see if it is VFR and whether I can fly, when will I be able to enjoy an uninterrupted sermon-series at church again?
I miss reading fiction books without feeling guilty that I am not studying for my next flight lesson. I miss taking AQ- or other teaching-related courses. I miss the idea of an uninterrupted summer in PEI with my family. But every time a plane flies overhead, my eyes turn heaven-ward. If I stop chasing after my PPL, will I forever resent the missed opportunity to become a licensed pilot?
In the uncertainty that is the limbo between deciding definitively to quit, and hoping that the weather and my financial situation will align favourably in support of a final series of flight lessons leading to a successful flight test, I am not sure of anything anymore!
Not since the days of cheap charter flights booked by a travel agent eager to keep the business of our budget-oriented high school band have I had such a horrific airline experience. The fact that “SATA: The Atlantic and You” had a small, difficult-to-locate airline counter at the terminal should have been the first clue of things to come…
Over two hours after our scheduled departure time, we were still sitting in the old, crapped-out Airbus 310, on the ground, as there was a problem with the right engine that the ground crew was working on, and should have completed “in about twenty minutes”, according to the first captain’s announcement an hour and a half previously.
The random “pinging” that followed (you know, the kind that usually indicates some sort of subsequent announcement or lighting change, but that in this case was simply, well, a random and frequently recurring “ping”) made an only slightly more annoying impression than the burnt out ashtray in the armrest of the seat next to me – no, seriously, folks, it was completely melted away, burned crispy around the edges by a smoking flyer from days gone by, when it was still legal to stink up the cabin with cigarette fumes!
Since we had several hours to wait on the ground, trapped in our winged prison, several passengers – including myself – elected to visit the lavatory. Inside the tiny cubicle, we were greeted with a paper dispenser that had come unhinged, and which had to be held up by the arm of the peeing passenger whilst sitting on the toilet. I shudder to think of the unsanitary conditions in this worse-than-outhouse-like structure!
After my visit to the loo, I sent my girlfriend in search of something to eat. The effects of the skinny slivers of leftover pizza and three carrot sticks I had wolfed down with my kids and their dad back at home several hours before embarking on this adventure had long worn off, and – in addition to getting rather tired and cranky – hunger pains were beginning to gnaw at my innards, contributing to my growing irritation with this cheapo airline.
She came back, humbly, with an apple.
I couldn’t believe they had grounded us for 3 hours, and one had to go begging for apples – surely to goodness these people had a bag of peanuts or pretzels to offer??!!
We finally got off the ground after 11 p.m., and I began to harbour hopes of a half-decent airline meal in the not-too-distant future. Alas, dinner was not to be had until much, MUCH later, due to “turbulence” that forced us all to fasten our seatbelts and remain seated for the first hour or so off the ground. (I use the term “turbulence” loosely here; having flown a Cessna 150 for the past three years, I have felt more unrest during a flight lesson on the average, placidly windy day than the few mild bumps we were experiencing while my tummy screamed, “FOOD! NOW!”)
Eventually, “dinner” (an assortment of small portions of salad-like assemblage, a substance that loosely resembled pasta and some sort of chocolate slop) was served, but not without another hiccup: My seat tray would not unfold, and I had to request assistance from a flight attendant to help me pry it out of my armrest, where it seemed determined to stay tucked away for the duration of the flight. Eventually we managed to eject the tray table from its lodging, and some “food” soon on it, the latter of which I quickly devoured.
I decided to forgo the after-dinner tea in order to gain some shut eye – by now it was well after midnight, and anyone who knows me will not be surprised when I say I was TIRED!
I had come prepared for sleeping on aircraft: I pulled out my headphones, put my black-out eye patch over my eyes, plugged myself into Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, and tried in vain to get comfortable in the too-small seat. Eventually, I drifted off.
Alas, a gentleman the next aisle over insisted on yelling at his relatives nearby about a variety of topics, from which number to press on the airplane radio to get Portuguese programming, to whether or not to drink brandy after dinner. Even my special earbuds could not block out this irritating and increasingly loud noise any longer, and combined with the “snoring airplane” (old aircraft just make that special sort of rumble as they are flying, which can be felt throughout one’s entire body), it was all just too much for me. I sat up grumpily in my chair and sulked for a bit.
After a while, the flight attendants turned out the cabin lights, and the yelling guy seemed to calm down and rest a bit himself.
With the noisy yeller soon sleeping peacefully, I managed to acclimatise to the snoring plane, and snoozed a bit more…
I’d like to say I got a few good hours of sleep before our arrival in Lisbon, however the truth is that within 20 minutes, the random “pinging” had returned, and whereas at first I was able to more or less tune it out, it was suddenly accompanied by bright lights in the cabin, and an announcement calling for a doctor or a nurse on board. Apparently someone was in need of medical attention. I looked at the flight progress map overhead, and noted that we were pretty much smack dab in the middle of the Atlantic at this point, not near any plausible diversion aerodrome. The yeller, meanwhile, had woken up, and like a parrot whose night cover-sheet is removed from its birdcage, he immediately began another loud and animated conversation, first with his wife beside him, and then with the relatives across the aisle.
Between the yelling parrot guy, the randomly pinging noises the aircraft was making, and the now several crying infants on board, I realised that I was unlikely to get much more sleep in the next 2 hours before our planned descent in Lisbon, so I decided to write this blog post instead.
I hope the reader had a more peaceful night than I did!
What a way to spend Thanksgiving!!!
After writing for several teacher and multiple birth publications, including ETFO's Voice Magazine, Multiple Moments, and the Bulletwin, Vera now focuses most of her written attention to prolific blogging, including BiB, "Learn to Fly with Vera!" and, more recently, SMARTbansho and Homeschooling 4. Contact Vera by clicking the photo above.
The views expressed on this blog are the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the perspectives of her family members or the position of her employer on the the issues she blogs about. These posts are intended to share resources, document family life, and encourage critical thought on a variety of subjects. They are not intended to cause harm to any individual or member of any group. By reading this blog and viewing this site, you agree to not hold Vera liable for any harm done by views expressed in this blog.