I am 60 years old now, and have accepted that I’ll never be as good a pilot or instructor as I’d like to be. I will, however, be comfortable being as good as I can be, and will strive to continuously improve. With my head on straight – I’ll continue.

Ground school for recurrent Astra training was completed yesterday morning, and then followed by sim sessions one and two in the afternoon. All this was to prepare me for an internal part 135 check-ride scheduled for Sunday Afternoon. The Westwind TCE check-ride with the FAA I spoke of earlier has been rescheduled for their benefit to the end of the month. I’m certainly glad these rides weren’t stacked on one another.

The instructor for todays festivities is Mike – an Army Cobra guy and King Air instructor who is spinning up on jets now. The co-pilot, Chris, is a 300 hour second in command specialist working at FSI that is actually quite good. Sitting in the back is our most senior and respected instructor, Lloyd, who is signing Mike off to instruct on his own. I’d like to fly well enough today to impress every one of them, so I put allot of pressure on myself to fly well. Don’t say or do anything stupid, Frank.

The simulator is full today, and all eyes are on me. As teammates, we could certainly make recurrent training a predictable and relatively easy event as we each take our turn in the hot seat. These are professionals, and not one of us is inclined to do that. Instead, we will challenge each other to the extent of our abilities to ensure we are ready to fly like the clients we serve. This session will be a workout.

Teaching is not the same as having your hands on the controls. I did make some mistakes as I was warming up. I sometimes get defensive when suggestions come in from either Chris or Mike, particularly those that point out mistakes, oversights, or missteps I have made. Taking a posture like that doesn’t bode well for CRM, so I work to squelch these reactions.

Reacting to criticism defensively is a defense mechanism and a negative trait of mine that surfaces occasionally when I’m under pressure. It developed during the brutal experience that was high school. It won’t ever go away, but a coping mechanism I use is to talk about it in the brief and debrief to ensure the crew continues to communicate effectively under pressure. Mistakes will be made and the standard is not perfection, no matter how much I want to achieve that.

Mike ran two excellent sessions for me yesterday. His suggestions were timely and delivered in a non-critical and constructive manner. Chris was an excellent crew member, and made timely suggestions that were helpful. During one single engine approach briefing I gave him, he saw that I misinterpreted a way point and we discussed it. I didn’t understand what he was trying to tell me, but it turned out he was right. The result was improved safety and a professionally flown single engine approach and landing. 

There are people I enjoy flying with that ‘get me’. What I mean by that is that they understand my strengths and weaknesses, and have been interested enough in me to compensate and make me better. Everyone around today fell into that category, and I’m glad to have their support. 

I’m really blessed with this life I’m living.  Fly Safe!


By fdorrin

Recently rated Gulfstream 280 pilot, working on instructor qualifications. WestWind and Astra corporate jet flight instructor. Contract corporate pilot. Own and operate a PA30 Twin Comanche. CFII; MEI; ME-ATP; SES; Typed in DHC-8, B-25, IAI-1124, IAI1125, G100, G280. Retired engineer / executive - Delmarva Power, Conectiv Energy, and PEPCO Holdings, Inc.