When pilots-in-training get disheartened, a few well-placed words of encouragement can often keep them flying. So several years ago I organized a “Student Pilot Pep Talk” Facebook group.
Friendships blossomed, and some Southwest-area members recently proposed our first-ever fly-in rendezvous at Lake Havasu City Airport, Arizona (KHII). I asked along student pilot Victoria Coleman, who’d recently celebrated her first solo. When Victoria boasted of her husband Paul helping her study, I invited him too.
Victoria and I agreed that rather than make this a “lesson,” we’d share piloting duties as equals: she’d handle the radios and navigate while I flew. Once aloft, Paul enthused about his wife’s newfound skills.
“We recently bought property in Pagosa Springs,” he said. “Victoria will be able to pilot us there!” Although Victoria was yet to start cross-country training, she’d thoroughly scouted our route and destination airport, and compiled relevant radio frequencies. And though new to aerial navigation, she precisely tracked our location via outside landmarks. It turned out she’s always loved maps, and as a child aspired to be a cartographer.
“You’re a natural at this!” I said.
“I felt that way, until the other day,” Victoria replied. “I recently had a great solo day in the pattern. But last time I flew, there was a light crosswind. I wasn’t sure I could handle it, so I landed. Now I’m nervous about mastering landings, and about flying by myself…”
Photo: Members of Greg’s “Student Pilot Pep Talk” Facebook Group rendezvous at Lake Havasu City Airport, Arizona. L-R: Mike Hardison, Ken Meyer, Bijan Maleki and Miranda Rydstrom, Brian and Theresa Farley, Paul and Victoria Coleman, Paul Meehl, and Shari Meyer. SEE MORE PHOTOS HERE.
(This column first appeared in the May, 2014 AOPA Flight Training magazine.)
©2014 Gregory N.Brown