My father-in-law’s health began to decline in 1999, and my spouse I wrestled with the decision to move closer to him and his spouse, so Terri could spend time with her father before he died. That decision would require us to leave our careers, and embark on a new way of life. At the same time, I had been dreaming about the possibility of returning to aviation as my vocation. I had been doing quite a bit of flying in Alabama, and I had already started some cross-country and simulated instrument flying to prepare me for additional ratings.
So, we made the decision, left our jobs, sold our home and moved to Southwest Florida. Terri returned to store management when we arrived, and I found a flight school where I could begin my professional flight training. Prior to our move, Terri made a visit to Florida to see her dad and while there, she visited a local flight school to checkout their instructors and their airplanes. Terri met one of the instructors from the U.K. named Beth, whom Terri immediately found to be friendly, positive, and knowledgeable. After that encounter, Terri called and said, “I have found your new flight school and flight instructor.”
After my arrival in Florida, I visited the school and met Beth. She was as Terri described; positive, friendly, knowledgeable, and kind. We decided to begin working on basic instrument flying during our first lesson and we would utilize one of several IFR certified Cessna 152’s on the ramp. In no time, I had mastered the T-Scan, constant airspeed/constant rate climbs and descents, turns, timed turns, and partial panel.
Later Beth taught be how to fly VOR, NDB, and ILS approaches with published holds. After lots of instrument practice, we decided to build some time toward my Commercial Pilot Certificate, which we would tackle next and thus, we flew several instrument cross country flights across Florida. During this time, I also was studying for and eventually passed my Instrument Written Exam, as well as learning as much as I could about the regulations, weather, and navigation.
One month later, after flying nearly every day, I successfully passed my oral and practical check ride with the local FAA Designated Examiner. Nineteen years after I had soloed at age 16, I had earned an instrument rating. My spouse and daughter were very proud of me, and I too had a little pride in my accomplishment however, there was so much more training that was before me.
The next lesson right after my instrument rating check ride, Beth said, “Let’s get to work on your commercial pilot certificate training.” “Next flight, we will start training in the Piper Arrow T-tail, so you I can give you your Complex Airplane endorsement.” In my next blog, I will share a little about my Commercial Pilot training, and few fun adventures flying throughout Florida. Stay Tuned!