Please to be praying for ceilings in Tampa to go above 5000 feet and visibility to exceed 5 mi. by 1500 UTC. I can live with "scattered at 2500".

The last time I actually flew was for my BFR (biennial flight review) back in December, 2003. My last medical was in 2001, so it expired in Dec., 2004. This sucks, Beavis. I made some appointments but things didn't quite go as planned.

Warning: boring pilot diary

After three years not being behind the stick once (and another two years before that BFR), there was no way in hell I was going up in the air without an instructor alongside.

The airport's changed hands twice since I was last here, both times due to bankruptcy. I had some $1700 credit and 10 hours of flight time in any line airplane. No longer.

I arrived at Clearwater Airport on Tuesday at 1500 and was ready to go back into the sky after three years. Someone fucked up and had booked me from 1200-1500 instead of the 1500-1800 I'd written down. All planes and instructors were booked through to 1900.

I finally got to fly again Wednesday. BG wanted to come along. I got the 2001 Cessna 172RG with standard instruments rather than the glass cockpit due to scheduling problems. The instructor was a young pup named Miller (yes, that's his first name) who seemed really easy-going. "You're doing the radios," I told him; I had enough to think about without botching Class C tower calls under Class B airspace.

I actually did the radio calls at CLW but let him contact PIE for our touch-and-goes. After the first three craptastic landings at PIE I was getting back into the swing of things. I had to do a pattern turn for sequencing (big-ass Coast Guard search plane in front of me) and nailed the 15°. Two minutes exactly, but I struggled with the altitude. BG kept taking pictures.

After about eight times around we fucked off to SPG which has water at either end of its runway. It also has a right pattern which gave me a chance to make sure I had the "picture" in either direction.

After a couple landings there I saw the weather was getting worse so I decided to break away and fly back to the north end of Clearwater Beach where there are a couple nature preserve islands. BG took more photos as I practised the turns some more, getting back into the swing of things, throwing the aileron trim wheel at the right points of the turn, easing my grip on the yoke, staying within 25ft. of my desired altitude at high and low speeds, all the good stuff was back. BG actually enjoyed herself; she loves the feeling of acceleration at take-off.

After Miller complimented me a few times saying he couldn't believe I'd been out of the sky for at least three years, I knew I'd ace the practical part of the BFR. Stalls are no big deal; my only nemesis is the 45° steep turn. For some reason they seem to be a lot easier in low wing aircraft like the Archer.

I went yesterday for my medical with Dr. Coupe. Turns out the old geezer is one of the most recommended AMEs around. He's really friendly1 and I'd actually like to go get a Class I certificate from him every six months were it not for the $100 per visit.

I'd spent half my employer's time yesterday studying the general theoretical crap and airspaces and whatnot. The weather looked questionable and a briefing didn't help. It was hit-or-miss and I drove out to CLW anyway.

Ceiling at 3000. Broken at 2500. Radar showed a pretty big storm coming in. Not gonna happen. I talked with Nick, the flight instructor who was scheduled to do my BFR and we rescheduled for today. "It's not a pass/fail test," he said, trying to reassure me. It's not that I'm so worried about fucking up the theory side; it's that the BFR requirement is an hour in the air, no simulators. If I don't get the BFR today, I won't be back for at least 6 months and its both difficult and incredibly expensive to do it in Germany.

The sky here looks like shit but it's supposed to clear later. It has two hours to do so.

Once completed I can take bro, his trophywife, and BG for a little "piss around central Florida" flight, letting each of them take the controls for a bit. If the weather holds. Unfortunately I can't take my nephew because his vindictive bitch mother has him this week and she hates me even more than she hates my brother thanks to a letter I wrote her making it clear she was not to attend mum's funeral last year.

What could possibly be cooler for a 7-year-old than actually flying a plane? Getting flying lessons would also be one hell of a carrot to dangle in front of him when he's a surly teenager. That bitch doesn't care. SRSLY. She uses the kid to try and upset Bro. She only has 6 years left; at 13 the kid can decide which parent he wants to live with. It won't be her.

I know it's better to be stuck down here wanting to get up there than it is to be stuck up there wanting to get down here, but motherfuck I want to fly today!

1 "Friendly" as in "remembers you after five years and chats for a while about all kinds of shit," not "warm hands and generous with the KY."

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Twice I have gone five years between flights by stevew (4.00 / 1) #1 Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 04:06:41 AM EST
It is not getting up in the air that scares me after a spell away as you can make mistakes up there and there is lots of air between you and the ground. The things that really gives me the willies are high traffic circuits with lots of tower directions and high crosswind landings.

After years away from it I have bits of automatic reaction come back without the context. Last time I automatically crossed controls to lose height on final, forgetting I had full flap down in a C152. The instructor checking me out only realised what I had done when we were over the threshold. I have never heard anyone scream so loud in a cockpit. Turns out he had lost a plane when a student did exactly that only a month before.

WIPO: Instrument by FlightTest (2.00 / 0) #2 Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 09:54:19 AM EST
Commercial single and multi engine instrument airplane. Yes, I'm probably overly proud of that.

I lost $280 when the place I used to rent from folded. I had always meant to go back and fly that money off after we bought the Mooney, but I just never did. Could have been worse though, my next door neighbor happened to own one of the airplanes that was on the line, and he had a hell of a time tracking down the owner to get his keys and logbook back after it folded.