The Day After My Written Exam

Happy Independence Day everyone!  I hope you had a relaxing long weekend.  Instead of taking to unwind, this holiday I took and passed the commercial pilot written exam.  My celebration started on the afternoon of the 5th.

The process of becoming a pilot and advancing in licenses and ratings is different for everyone.  I have watched some people move quickly through the system and others are in no rush.  I fall in to the latter category.  Already holding my private pilot license and instrument rating, this was my third written test.  It took me almost two years from my instrument checkride to arrive at the testing center for this test.  It’s not that I haven’t flown or haven’t been studying, just life got in the way.  I believe it was John Lennon that said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

Just after passing my instrument checkride, I took an in-person class at John Wayne airport.  That was a lot of fun and I got to socialize with other pilots.  Everyone had a unique story and direction.  What I liked most was learning about how each instrument and component worked.  We discussed topics like what is the difference between a generator and an alternator.  Do you know?  Can you describe how an altimeter knows your current altitude?  

Next, I took online courses with both Sporty’s and Kings.  We all learn differently and we all absorb information at different rates with different mediums.  Internet courses are fine but they can be flawed in the fact that you’re not in a classroom setting and can lead to distractions.  Self discipline is the key to success here.  

Then finally, I finished up my prep with Sheppard Air.  That’s a ton of preparation, right?  Well, it all paid off in the end.  I passed on the first try with a great score that I was happy with and the process is now feeling familiar.  Go in, pay a fee (that always seems to be going up), get on the computer, answer the questions, reference a few charts and submit. 

I took the next day off to relax and enjoy the moment.  For the first time in a long time, I didn’t spend any time thinking about flying for one full day….except to tell friends and family that I passed my written test.  No, it’s not like I got my ATP or something, but hey, every win in life should be celebrated, big or small.  Every step forward is a reason to rejoice.  I’ve always felt that when you can appreciate the small things in life, you’re a happier person.  It reminded of the day after my instrument rating checkride.  I was mentally exhausted and was happy to take a recovery day from the intensity.

After that, I lined up a CFI to help me start preparing for the practical.  That will all get started when I return from AirVenture at the end of July.  By now this process is all too familiar and I understand the context of what’s expected.  It’s a matter of learning the new maneuvers, reviewing the old ones and ramping up on book knowledge for the oral.  Each checkride demands tighter tolerances to fly more accurately.  The prerequisites require more experience.  It’s time to start flying with a purpose again and checking all the boxes.    

What do you do to celebrate the wins in your life?  Do you take the time to reflect and unwind?  

When you’re learning to fly, there are definitely ups and downs, highs and lows.  We all go through them and the process is a very rewarding one.