I have been pretty quiet about my experience of becoming a pilot lately.
Partially because of the circumstances I have been facing, partially because I have been extremely busy, and partially due to my being embarrassed.
As you most likely know back in late April we bought a plane. A twin-engine Cessna. But we haven’t been able to utilize it very much yet.
You see, I was working with a local instructor. I encouraged him and helped him to get his multi-engine instructor qualification using our plane.
Then one day about 1.5 months after he got his instructor’s license, I went for a lesson on Tuesday and on Wednesday I got a call from him. “Hey Dan, do you have a moment to talk?”
He continued, “I am no longer going to be an instructor. I will continue to run my flight school, but I’m not going to instruct any longer.”
There was nothing I could do to convince him to keep working with me. I tried everything.
To say the least, I was deflated.
That same day I started making calls across the nation to find someone who would be willing to work with me to go straight to multi-engine certification.
The answer I kept getting was, we would be happy to help you as soon as you get your single engine cert.
I knew that God had a plan, but I couldn’t see what it was at the moment.
So, after another week of scouring the nation, I pivoted again and found another local instructor to help me get my single-engine license (certification).
After our first lesson and feeling like I was creeping into that single-engine “pop can” I knew that I wanted to finish getting my multi-engine certification. (I call it a pop can because I swear someone can fart on the ground and you can feel it while you’re in the air in those little planes. Lol)
I scheduled a check ride (test) as soon as I could in September. There is only one local tester in the area. I felt ready for that exam.
I showed up and passed, but only by the skin of my nose. It wasn’t pretty, to say the least.
I kept flying a single engine honing my skills. But the day after I passed my single-engine check ride I started hunting for a multi-engine fast-track program.
I found tons of them, but they were all booked out until the middle of January.
Then on a stroke of luck or divine intervention, I did a quick search and found a school in Florida that had a fast-track option and had an opening in the middle of October.
I asked if it was possible to get the add-on” multi-engine certification in a week. They said yes but it’s going to be intense!
I’m a pretty motivated guy, who doesn’t give up too easily. So, I signed an agreement with them, bought tickets, found a car in the area, and found a place to stay.
There wasn’t much else I could do before I got there.
When I arrived the first morning I got my high-performance rating before noon. And that afternoon we went straight into multi-training.
I spent the next 4 days 8+ hours a day training in a multi-engine aircraft. We did 7-8 Stalls every day. We’re constantly turning one of the engines off. Over 50 landings, and tons of ground school so I would be ready for the exam.
I should mention that while I was doing this my team at home was doing an amazing job with the business. When. I got finished for the day. I would head straight for the house, cook dinner, then work until after 10 pm to catch up on everything I missed. Then I was up at 4-5 am studying for the next day’s lessons and finishing up work stuff.
Jenna ran our crazy house for the entire week. She is such an amazing person and wife. I am so blessed to have her as my partner in everything. Her support and the support from our kids have been absolutely amazing.
It was a grueling week, to say the least.
There was one time we were flying out to check out the ocean and the instructor killed the fuel to one engine. I noticed the change right away and started troubleshooting. As soon as I figured out the fuel was off I asked if she wanted me to restore the engine or secure it.
She said you did great; you can fire it back up.
Then 2 days before the check ride, my original tester called the school and said he was sick and couldn’t do any exams.
So, they called everyone they knew and found me a tester in another city. He was an amazing corporate pilot who flew the NY Yankees around. He is their main pilot.
During the check ride, I was doing the maneuvers and was just about finished. We were getting ready to land and finish the test. When we had a minor malfunction with our landing gear.
We were supposed to have 3 green lights, but we only had 2. I did exactly what I was supposed to do and ran through everything. Then we made the decision to do a flyby of the tower and have them inspect the gear to see if all three wheels were down.
As we flew by they told us it looks like we have all 3 down. So, we made the decision to land.
As I came down it was probably the smoothest landing I have ever had. We kissed the runway and gently set down our noses.
The gear held. As we taxied to the parking spot we made the corners slow because the tester said, if the gear is going give it’s going to be when we turn.
After we parked we inspected the gear and decided it was safe to fly because it was locked in place. But when we flew it home we did NOT put the gear up.
I am so grateful for my support system at home and all that Jenna has done to allow this to happen. She is the perfect partner for me. God sure did bless me when he placed her in my life.
In the end, I now know some of the reasons God intervened in my original plans.
- He needs me to know that as long as I persevere I can accomplish anything. Where there is a will there’s a way.
- You can push someone else to be better, but you cannot make them do the right thing. You can help someone up, but you can’t drag them to the next level with you. They have to want to come.
- Sometimes slowing down is the best thing you can do. When you go too fast you forget steps and get caught with your pants down.
- And most importantly, my respect for the multi-engine plane is much higher than it would have been, had I just gotten my multi-engine certification right away. I know how capable the machine is and just quick it can get away from you. When you go twice as fast things can happen twice as quickly.
- Trust that God has a plan. He does everything for a reason! I mean EVERYTHING! Trust God with everything and he will take care of you
- Without a support system it is WAY harder to succeed. Jenna and the kid’s encouragement was so helpful, and I couldn’t have done it without them. Never take your support system for granted!