LOG ENTRY - 27-APR-2011                                        Matt Borland
  Flight: 2 - 27-APR-2011 - 0.8 hr - Turns, radio, takeoff
  Depart: KCOS ~1215  Arrive: KCOS ~1305

Lesson of the day: challenging yourself is not easy...otherwise it's not a 
challenge.  When you challenge yourself, you find flaws in yourself you didn't
acknowledge or want to acknowledge.  But with the right attitude, you can take
those flaws and either conquer them or learn how to turn them into a strength.

Today was challenging in a way that I was concerned it might be.  After a
good flight a couple of weeks ago, I was wondering if things were 'too good'
and whether in a more adverse situation my performance would degrade.

I wasn't really in a bad mindset to start with, but for some reason in
retrospect it seemed the whole flight I didn't feel any of the positive things
I did in the first flight.  I was on the defensive; I felt like I was
battling ATC, the weather, the wind, and worst of all myself.

This morning there had been snow and on the northern side of town there was a
lot of ice on the ground.  Luckily, there wasn't anything on the surface at 
the field, but my instructor couldn't make it in so we delayed the flight about 
three hours to mid-day.  The plane was in the hangar, so luckily there wasn't
any ice/frost on the plane.

To the south was some rain/snow and I was a little concerned about it except
that the wind from the north seemed to be taking all the bad weather away.
To get the plane out of the hangar, we had to 'break red,' which is to get
permission to use the area usually reserved for the military.  We did that 
and then pulled the plane out with a hand towing bar.

As we went through the preflight checklist in the plane, an A-10 taxied by.
I have a lot of respect for the A-10s--it's an ugly plane that's pretty
versatile and has a great record for sortie success.  Its performance in 
Desert Storm shut down its critics and extended its service life at USAF.

Looking back, I felt a bit less of the anticipation I felt on my first flight.
My attitude was less about 'this should be interesting' and more 'I have to
figure out all this stuff.'  I guess that's true, but I'm thinking now that
I need to retain some of that naive wonder to inspire me and keep me focused.

My instructor let me talk to ATC, which was a bit awkward and perhaps also got
me feeling a little defensive.  On my call to clearance I fumbled a few words,
and talking to the tower I apparently called my takeoff runway 'one-seven-arr'
which prompted them to lightly correct me and restated 'one-seven-RIGHT.'

Once were in the process of taking off, I was sort of half following along and
half using the controls myself.  I guess the intent was to have me experience 
takeoff, but somehow this half-and-half approach caused me to be confused.
Was I doing that?  Was that you?  Am I supposed to be correcting angle?
At the same time, I was having some problem getting my mike to capture
everything I was saying.  As a result if I asked a quick question my instructor
might not hear it all or not hear it at all.

There was a light wind, but not like the light wind I'd experienced before.
The first time out, the wind blew like a simple physics problem: a force
exerting in a single vector across a sheet of ice.  This time, I felt like
I was constantly adjusting and re-adjusting, like driving high speed in an
off-road course.  And though in reality I was probably doing 'OK' I was being
hard on myself mentally and this snowballed into me getting tense and 
feeling more defensive.

Within several minutes of this, we passed Schriever Air Force Base and heard
over the radio that visibility was severely reduced over Fort Carson.  Looking
to the south, the showers I'd seen before were expanding north and forming
'friends' around the area to the east of us.  This didn't help my mental
situation; not because I was afraid of the weather exactly, but more that it
was just another factor that was likely to limit the value of the flight.  
After briefly conferring with my instructor, it seemed likely that we were only
going to have a few minutes of training before heading back.  That wasn't
necessary, we could have waited out the weather or landed elsewhere if it was
bad weather at Springs, but I knew that either way this weather was going to
constrain the training period.

I think it was at this point that my head sort of got wrapped around itself
and all the minor issues made me feel cornered and I wasn't going to really 
learn anything today.  And that notion is not one I would like to consciously
acknowledge, so that made me frustrated.  Which made me a little upset, which
in turn made me more frustrated.

I'd asked my instructor if we could work on clearing turns, just because I had
read about them and was interested in seeing exactly what they were.  He 
showed me, but in the short time we were up I never executed them myself.  I
instead went over turns again, but my head wasn't in the right place.  I should
have been on top of the turns, making sure they were as good as they could be.
But I had already put up the mental wall and couldn't focus.

We soon decided to go back as the snow flurries were creeping up on the airport.
We contacted approach and as we flew back I started regaining a little focus.  
But as the confidence came back, approach had us divert a little to allow a
C-130 to land before us, and due to the series of directions, my instructor
took the controls and flew the rest of the flight.  Naturally that didn't 
really help my confidence level and I basically was a passenger the rest of the
way back.

Once on the ground, I discovered that I'd lost the checklist (it had wedged
itself between the door and the seat), which made me feel pretty stupid, and
on returning to the hangar my instructor and I had a 'failure of communication'
that caused me to not follow the correct taxiway line.

So the feeling at the end of the flight was not much better than defeat.
I was exhausted and I'd only been up for about 55 minutes.  I had truly learned
nothing new since the last time except that I was vulnerable to getting 

In retrospect, it would be easy to blame external factors, but my realization
over the next several hours is that the only problem I'd really experienced
was in my head.  If I was going to be able to fly, I was going to have to keep
my chin up and remain inspired.  This flight training is an exceptional
opportunity, and to succeed I am going to have to get my head past trying to be
perfect, but at the same time keep the bar high and push myself without getting

To help myself, I am going to do a few things.  First is to make sure I always
have a good amount of food in my belly.  I have a pretty high metabolism and
if I get hungry, I can fall into a self-defeating attitude very quickly.  The
delay on this flight put takeoff right after lunch, and all I'd had all day 
was half a ham sandwich.

Another is to remind myself that this is an amazing opportunity and that I 
should tackle the problems with a smile on my face and fire in my belly.
To retreat and fall into self-pity is the only real defeat.

I found some relief in talking with the other trainees, not even necessarily
about struggles but just about aviation in general.  I must remember that this
journey is not made alone: I have friends, peers, instructors, and naturally
my dear wife :) to keep my head in the game.

Finally, I need to accept that occasionally I will take a step back or be a 
little overwhelmed.  I can then remind myself that this training is a process
and not a perpetual outcome; my performance or knowledge (or lack thereof)
at one slice in time is not relevant because the training process will improve
that which I have not yet mastered.

I hope to go up twice next week...and next time I am going to ENJOY IT!