I get to go to Oahu, Hawaii each year for about a month duration because my military unit is located there. I know…I know…but someone’s got to do it! I lose all sympathy when people hear of my unit’s location, but that’s not my problem…I’m just following orders from Uncle Sam;) I love Hawaii and love my military unit, and, as most have determined after reading my posts, I love anything aviation. On the North Shore of Hawaii is one of the coolest airfields in the world…Dillingham Airfield. Dillingham is known for many facets of aviation, and the one I’m most interested in is gliders. Since I get to go to Hawaii each year, I figured I’d go ahead and try to obtain a Commercial Pilot-Glider license and a CFI-Glider as well. Now, when I go to Hawaii each year, I can do some glider flying in my military off-time.
Getting the license was not without its troubles, and this is the real point of the message. For the last 5 years, I’ve done nothing but get a Biennial Flight Review (BFR) and Instrument Competency Check (ICC) through the annual training that is required for anyone to be insured in a pressurized aircraft. While I administer these training events, I also have to receive them each year. Yet, this training is really not a “check-ride” for which you can receive a “pink slip” or “failure” which follows you around in the FAA’s records long-term. It’s good training, and I’m not knocking it…but there’s just not the pressure that comes with a practical test.
The training required for the glider license really did present the opportunity for failure. There were several times, especially in the CFI evaluation, when I did not know the answer or flew a maneuver flew less-than-optimally. When a practical test is administered, there are Practical Test Standards which must be met with a certain level of knowledge or proficiency. If not, the examiner gets to let you know you failed and you get to try again another day. If you are like me, then you are not at all comfortable with the prospect of failure. This internal pressure affords the opportunity for real growth.
Having this been said, I’d like to encourage everyone to go for a training event that leads to another ticket. If you’re not a CFI…go ahead and do it. If you’ve flown airplanes only, try a rotorcraft, glider, or seaplane additional rating. Not only will this enhance the flying you currently do on a frequent basis, it will offer you the potential to broaden your knowledge base. Be advised though, it will afford you the opportunity to fail, and that my be the best part. This may shift your perspective and give you a window into the thoughts of others as you live your daily life. Even though I passed, I walked away from my Glider CFI practical test a bit humbled and quite challenged. I think it will make me a better pilot and person.
One more thing…an additional rating from the FAA is administered without a expiration. Once you put the rating in your back pocket, you always have it. I know the CFI comes with a 2-year time limit, but if you have multiple CFI ratings, they all get renewed when you renew or add a CFI rating. So, this year, go for annual training in your specific airframe, but also go for an additional rating. I think you’ll be glad you did…