Woke up at 7:10 A.M. Grabbed a bowl of cereal, then took a shower. I looked over the online sectional chart for Springfield, but basically, I was planning on just going in and taking it as it came! So that’s what I did…I left the house around 8:30 and headed for the airport.
The instructor was a younger guy…probably even younger than me. He was an Embry-Riddle graduate, and he was pretty straight-forward. We shook hands and then literally started! He went through an FAA publication of topics and questions, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I knew 95% of them. We had to do at least one hour of ground, but it passed by very quickly. I had a memory lapse on three of the TOMATO FLAMES mnemonic, but that was probably the worst. I learned that you don’t have to fly at even or odd plus 500 below 3000 feet AGL, too. Ya always learn something.
Basically, we did about 45-50 minutes of questions (the whole syllabus), then just talked aviation for the rest of the time. It was surprisingly (and thankfully) simple. From there I went out and pre-flighted the Cessna 172. It’s actually in fantastic condition…I think it’s a 1980 or so. He came out, and we headed for the skies.
Two things I remember. #1—After I applied full power, I honestly didn’t think we were moving!!! We were just crawling down that runway. It’s got a 180 HP engine, but it’s a bit different from the 500 HP I’ve been accustomed to the past couple of months. #2—This thing shot off the ground. Seriously, it felt like we were going to the moon at just 500 feet down the runway. I honestly couldn’t believe we were airborne already!!! But it wanted to climb. Again, quite a bit different than the couple thousand feet of runway I have been using up.
But I was having fun. We flew about 15 miles west, and then he had me do steep turns to start out. They weren’t too bad, although it been a long while since I had banked over to 45 degrees! From there, we climbed up to 3000 feet and did slow flight, then power off stalls, then power on stalls. Again, a bit rusty, but not terrible. I knew what I was doing at least.
From there, we had a simulated engine failure, and I flew down to 500 feet, talking him through my process all the way. He had also covered up my heading indicator and asked me how to know where I was or would be going. Not too hard. We climbed back up to 3000, then headed back to the airport where I did a short-field landing (complete with a Tower-commanded short approach), then a soft-field landing, then a normal landing. And that was it!!!
I felt pretty good about it all. It honestly just wasn’t that hard. Basic VFR maneuvers. I came inside and had to PAY for a flight for the first time in nearly TWO YEARS. It was painful. I had to fork over $207.60!!! I DO NOT like this flow where I pay to fly!!! I like it much better when they pay me to fly!!! Yikes.
But I’m certified for another two years. It’s just part of going through the hoops.
On the drive home, I stopped at McDonald’s for lunch. It was warming up.
I came back home and started plucking rocks one by one by hand from out front of my house. It’s pretty easy since the rocks are big, so I didn’t mind. Then the UPS guy pulled up and delivered a package!!! MY WHEEL! Sure enough, it was the wheel from Sears that I had ordered on Saturday. Not bad delivery time! It was a perfect match, so I threw it on the mower and started it up. It ran PERFECT. I mowed half of my yard with it just to make sure it was ready to go and then listed it for sale on craigslist. I’m asking $150, though I’ll be surprised if it goes for that much. But brand new, they are $329.99 at Sears. So we’ll see. It’s just a bad time to be selling a mower! Everyone already has one!!!
I mowed the rest of my yard with my own personal mower, then headed back to the rocks. The dirt was drying up rather nicely, so I headed over to Mom and Dad’s to pick up the big tiller. The little one would just get tore up going through this mess of dirt and rocks. I stayed over there for about an hour, helping Dad research a homemade ice cream maker. Then I headed back home.
It was HOT. It was over 100 degrees with the heat index. And so stinking humid.
But my front rock area was in the shade, so I opted to work. It was around 5:00 P.M. by now. It tilled up rather nicely, so half of it was actually still too wet. Oh well. I raked up some rocks and put them in the pile in my driveway. But I was hot, so I called it a day. I came inside and rested for a bit.
But then I checked the radar, and I saw a huge band of thunderstorms heading our way in a couple of hours. <sigh> I just can’t win!!! We get huge thunderstorms every couple of days!!! And this one was definitely going to hit us. So in a quick burst of motivation, I headed back outside and started sifting the dirt. There are sooooooo many rocks still left in this mess. I was able to pull out another half wheel-barrow full. And there is plenty left. Basically, 90% of the big white rocks are out (what I originally thought was the ONLY rock there). But I was surprised (and disappointed!) to find out that the previous owner had covered up a huge mess of purple rock with the weed barrier and white rock. So I have the distinct honor of not only cleaning up this mess but ALSO sorting the two types of rocks.
Oh the fun!!!
Actually, I am enjoying it. I’m just so excited for the end product!!! I had originally planned on be completely and totally done by Friday, but the storm was going to throw a major kink in my plan.
While sifting rocks, I received a phone call from the State-Journal Register. Basically, my mom, dad, and I will be interviewed about Couch-Surfing. So that’s pretty exciting. They have hosted 20 guests, and I have surfed for over 3 months. I’d say we represent CS pretty well! We’ll be interviewed next Thursday.
I came inside to rest for good around 6:45. I was only inside for a couple of minutes when the door bell rang. Mom and Dad had come by to surprise me! Mom had brought a gorgeous sight, too: McDonald’s sweet tea. My second one for the day!!! Woo hoo! They only stayed about 15 minutes, though, as I had other plans for the night.
So around 7:40, I headed to my friend’s house. I’m going to be mowing their yard for the rest of the summer. The dad of the family has taken a pilot job. Yup, they still exist!!! But here’s the catch. It was in a different country. In a different continent. Way across the pond. Frankly, it’s kind of frustrating to me. Here’s a 6500-hour pilot with 4000 hours of jet time, and he has to leave his family for a year just to stay in aviation. It was bittersweet for me to visit with him. I’m excited he is flying again, but I just know the pains it is going to wreak on his wife and family. Frankly, it makes me quite sad to think about. But I love them all to death. And I’m eager to help out with their yard.
I stayed over there for 2 ½ hours. Ate some pizza, ate some cookie dough, watched very aggressive thunderstorms pass through, then headed back home. Ended up back home at 11:35.
I was in bed at a too late 12:50 P.M. I’m setting the alarm for 9:00 tomorrow. With the very wet yard now, I really can’t do any landscaping work. AGAIN. AGH!!! So much for finishing Friday. Oh well.
Not really sure what I’ll be doing tomorrow…