Waiting for better weather there is only so mach you can do. Trying to maximize every moment I managed to get my required night flight in. For some reason the skies were clearer during the dark hours of the day. Last Saturday, a week ago, I just wanted to go flying to get back into it and be a bit more ready when it really mattered. Me, my instructor DJ, and his wife flew to St. Maries as a local destination flight. It was beautiful to fly over lakes and in the valley where the airstrip was located the fall colors of the trees are still rich. We got some lunch and then flew back we entered a situation we wanted to avoid. Rainclouds were approaching and as we flew out course to take us back to Felt’s Field in Spokane, the clouds started to drop to lower and lower altitudes. Being forced to stay below the clouds, I pitched the nose down to stay within legal limits with regards to cloud clearance. Through the rain we made it back safe. I clearly saw the severity in a situation if it had continued to get worse than it got. One must have respect for the weather. As the saying goes; it is better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than being in the air wishing you were on the ground.
This week started out just like the last few ones did. Weather conditions were not in our favor. Clouds were low above us, but we had hope. The weather forecast indicated possible flight conditions later in the week. If it was any week we really had to get things done to start catching up from being behind schedule, it was this week. Grounded for another week would give us very little margin if any to finish the required coursework this year. I was forced to drop two classes that we study in December to make room for any flight time I would need then. There was nothing else I could do.
I wrote last week how worrying doesn’t help. It is true. This week we actually got clear weather from Tuesday and on. An answer of prayer to say the least. The engines of all the Cessna 172 model aircraft we had available were humming their best tunes for most of the week. Tuesday started out with an instructed cross-country flight across the Washington plains. Wednesday my instructor had me go on my first solo to an airport I’ve never seen before more than 50 miles away from Felt’s Field. It was a bit nerve-wrecking, but sometimes one must be stretched. If worst would come to worse I could simply just turn around and find my way back to an airport I was familiar with.
Thursday concluded my cross-country flights for now. I passed the stage check (sort of an examination by a second instructor) and received a couple really good pointers to become a more proficient pilot. On Friday I ended with a flight where I flew “under the hood” to simulate what we call instrument flights. To simulate situations where you may fly in clouds and you do not have any outside visual references, you get to wear a plastic visor that block your vision out the windshield although you still can see the flight instruments. Flying like this for an hour and a half takes its toll on a person who is not used to it and I was happy the week was over.
I am so thankful that God provided so good weather to get all this flight training done. Just one week later that I have asked many to pray for better weather, the skies opened up and the opportunity was given. Thank you all for praying in this and please keep praying for my training here to be an aviation missionary. After an exhausting week I got to go out for a little hike in the woods which I haven’t done in months now. About time to refresh one’s soul in such a way.