I moved to Florida in the beginning of April 2016 for my husband to start his flight school journey. It’s been exciting, new and stressful all at the same time.
Now I don’t know everything….obviously – I can only talk about our experience up to this point. But I’ll be able to give readers a small picture of what this flight school life is all about school from a spouse perspective. After all, we will learn as we go.
My best piece of advice for people new in Pensacola for flight training – is patience. We waited for almost 4 entire months before Robert was picked up for a class in IFS (Initial Flight School). There are a lot of student pilots going through school right now and it’s pretty backed up. IFS is basically just a school where student pilots get their feet wet and learn to fly an aircraft for the first time. It’s also a good indicator of whether they will actually like being a pilot for their full-time job.
An IFS student will have five academic tests, eight flights with an instructor and a solo in a small training plane called a Cessna. Rob loved IFS! He really thinks that he will love being a pilot and he seemed to work well with his instructor.
This past Monday, Rob soloed in the Cessna at his designated airport in Milton, FL. This was an exciting time because I was able finally able to go watch him fly. P.S. Thank you to his instructor for scheduling an evening flight, because I work in the morning and afternoons.
We arrived at the airfield and Rob was a bit discouraged by the dark clouds forming above. He and his instructor decided they would wait to see if it dissipated. A reminder to all military spouses: “Hurry up and wait” is a thing. And I had no idea until I had lived through it. We waited at the airfield for almost two hours before the storm cleared and Rob was able to fly.
He initially completed three traffic patterns with takeoffs and landings with his instructor in the plane before he was cleared to solo. I was actually super nervous but excited to watch this part. I honestly couldn’t believe my husband was flying that plane by himself! Growing up I had become used to when my Dad would fly (Dad is a former Air Force jet fighter pilot and now a commercial AA pilot), but that didn’t prepare me for this. The instructors and staff were extremely welcoming and reassuring to me. One even took me out in a golf cart to the runway so that I watch Rob take off up close!
Anyways, Rob did great and passed his solo! The instructors said he did well and cut up his t-shirt in true aviation tradition. Oh yeah, a cool tradition in the aviation community is to cut the “coattails” off when you solo for the first time. This tradition stems from when the very first pilots flew in fancy jackets and they would cut off their coattails when they soloed for the first time. Now it’s cutting up a t-shirt.
Now that IFS is over, Rob is getting ready to start API on Tuesday (August 29, 2016). API is probably the hardest part of flight school to get through. HEAVY academics and testing all in a short time period on top of water/land survival. Basically, I will hardly be speaking to Rob during the next month and a half because he will be “nose to the books”. I’ll be praying for Rob as he begins this next portion. For now, I’ll keep my readers updated as much as I can.
Originally Published on August 25, 2016