Well, by the absence of a post, you can guess my cross-country flight was a no-go. The threat of bad weather in Georgia prevented my instructor from signing me off for the flight, and I concurred that it wasn't the BEST day to go. Disappointing, yes, but the trip is planned and just waiting to be executed.
On the other hand, I've started ground school. The commercial ground school is 4 hours every weekday and covers a plethora of topics, at a fairly fast pace. When people describe flight training as "trying to drink from a fire-hose," I always thought it was a joke, something to laugh about and make it seem more intense than it was. They weren't joking. As I've tried to convey over the last few weeks, the training and amount of knowledge needed here is immense, but add a classroom setting, and it really is taken to 11.
But you know what? I LOVE IT!!
The last two days have been discussing "Aircraft Systems." Imagine if, before you were allowed to drive something other than a Kia, you had to know how every single system on your car worked. I wonder how many people could describe how their engine ACTUALLY worked, or how the air conditioning kept you cool? Or how many people would take the time to learn it? In this class, I've had to learn how an electric landing gear is different from a hydraulic one. Or how the differential pressure in a pressurized aircraft is closely monitored so you don't hurt the aircraft or make the passengers uncomfortable. Some of this stuff I've learned before, both in my love of cars (the workings of a reciprocating engine) and my Instrument Rating training from a month prior. Before that it was advanced aerodynamics, next is commercial navigation.
The amount of knowledge and data a professional pilot must be aware of is extraordinary. To be a pilot, you have to be a doctor, knowing the aeromedical side of aviation, like what happens to your body at altitude for lack of oxygen; you have to be a physicist, knowing how the center of gravity of the airplane, with relation to the center of lift affects how it flies; and you have to be a meteorologist, knowing how weather patterns move, how thunderstorms, fog, and temperature inversions are formed. It doesn't stop at this commercial class either. Next is multi-engined aircraft, then flight instructing, then INSTRUMENT flight instruction, and so-on.
Then there's the written test. While the Instrument rating is agreed to be the most difficult to get, the commercial test is the longest. The FAA knowledge exam is a 100 question test where questions are randomly selected from a pool of over 560. Its a LOT of information to take in. As with everything else in aviation, it builds off what you have learned in the past, and adds more on top of the pile. I'm sure I'll be complaining about how hard the flight instructor exam is once THAT time comes...
So its time to hit the books again. I'm sparing myself two days of R&R in Lakeland, FL this weekend for the annual Sun n' Fun fly-in and airshow. Unfortunately, its already been marred by a tragedy, as some extreme weather in the form of a possible tornado, ripped across the airfield and destroyed dozens of aircraft. Luckily no one seems to have been seriously injured, but the damage was extensive. The organizers have decided "the show must go on" and things will be back on track tomorrow by the time I arrive.
Until the next post - Maintain flight-level 410!