New Private Pilot
About Kristen Seaman
May 1st, 2013
One of the moments I was most looking forward to when I was a student pilot was taking others on introductory flights and sharing the joy of aviation with them. Since receiving my private pilot certificate, I’ve flown four people who had never been in a general aviation aircraft before, or at least not one that was as small as the Cessna 172 that I fly. Not only was it a learning experience for those I flew, but it also taught me a lot and exposed me to situations I never experienced as a student.
The first time I took a passenger, I was flying one of my best friends whom I had blown off plans with a few times due to my rigorous training schedule in the weeks leading up to my check ride. Garrick had been in a general aviation plane before on a skydiving trip, but he hadn’t been in a four-seater like this or been at the controls of the plane. The day we were slated to fly, I had been monitoring the arrival of a cold front moving through the area, and called Garrick at the last minute to tell him the flight was still on. With the short flight I had planned, I felt confident that we could fit it in before the front pushed through the area. We took off and went southwest to Winchester, Virginia (KOKV). As soon as we touched down, I made a split second decision to do a touch and go (which I was used to doing with my instructor because she would raise the flaps for me). That went off without a hitch, and we were on our way back to Frederick in no time. Read More >>
January 30th, 2013
When I tell someone I’m a pilot now, I get so many different reactions. The most common is “Awesome! Who do you fly for?” I always have this feeling that they’re slightly disappointed to learn the small scale on which I fly. Now, I don’t have anything against commercial pilots, but I have no plans now or in the future to pursue a job with the airlines. Being a commercial pilot is a career move, and that is just not in line with my goals. However, please don’t actually ask me what I want to be when I grow up, because I’m still not sure. I love flying and I love the flexibility of doing it on my own schedule. But I also love my job, and being able to fly as little or as much as I want to outside of that is perfect for me. Read More >>
December 26th, 2012
Well, it’s been about three months since I last blogged. It’s been a whirlwind, and I apologize for the extensive post before you, but I promise it has a happy ending.
About a month ago, my instructor informed me she had a date in mind for my checkride. Then reality set in. I had exactly 3.5 weeks to prepare, and the thought terrified me. I hadn’t yet flown my full 10 hours of solo time that is required, hadn’t had many successful short and soft field takeoffs and landings, nor had I practiced crosswind landings on more than one occasion.
My biggest concern, however, was preparing for my oral exam, which would be a 1-2 hour quizzing session right before my actual flight test. We started with one hour study sessions before work, covering a new set of topics every day. I could get the information to stick for one day, but didn’t feel that I was retaining a whole lot. Read More >>
September 27th, 2012
For those of you who have been following me on this blog, you might recall one of my first posts, chockfull of different quotes describing how it felt to experience the freedom and beauty of flying. I ended it with Orson Welles’ words of wisdom, “There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror.” I went on to say that I anticipate it being a long time before I ever get bored flying an airplane. Well, on my first solo cross country yesterday, I can honestly say that even with all the gorgeous scenery and thoughts of “this is so awesome”/”I am so cool” running through my head, I found myself bored in an airplane for the first time.
My solo cross country has been a long time coming. Before I went to AirVenture, I was getting super close, but weather delays kept me from ever reaching my intended destinations on my practice cross countries. After AirVenture, as some of you know, I was feverishly studying for my FAA knowledge test. Getting back to flying after being out of the loop for almost two months was rough. The plane felt so foreign to me. I was scared that I had lost my touch. However, a few cross countries later, I was feeling secure being back in the saddle. Read More >>
August 28th, 2012
Normally when I start a blog post, the words flow effortlessly off my fingertips and I get lost in telling some funny, scary, or educational story about a recent flight I’ve taken or an event I’ve attended. Today is not the case. In fact, I’m a little surprised I’m still able to form complete sentences and not be passed out in my work chair with coworkers prodding me with pencils to get me out of my vegetative state. You see, today is the day that I passed my written exam. Wait; let me say that with more enthusiasm: I PASSED MY WRITTEN EXAM! Not only did I pass, I received a 95%! Read More >>
June 25th, 2012
Coming off the high of soloing for the first time takes a while. There was about a week and a half of “local fame” before it all started to die down. The timing of the solo was perfect because I had a cross country trip planned to my parents’ house for Memorial Day weekend with my boyfriend (and back-up instructor). This was my first chance to experience real flight planning. I enthusiastically unfolded my sectional and asked, “Ok, where do we start?” I quickly learned that I was in way over my head. The whole process was a flurry of measurements, printing off airport diagrams, getting the winds, making all of these crazy calculations, and oh, yeah—learning that in order to meet our weight and balance requirements I couldn’t bring as many pairs of shoes as I wanted on our trip!
Somewhat disappointedly, we got off to a slow start. The weather at both the departure and arrival airports (KFDK and KGED) was less than ideal, with low ceilings and fog. We had to wait over an hour past our planned departure time for it to clear up. I knew what the VFR requirements were and when we got close to them, I started getting really anxious for the ceiling to rise just 100 more feet or the visibility to improve by a half mile. My boyfriend told me I was displaying symptoms of “Get-there-itis,” a potentially dangerous illness of those who would sacrifice safety just to get up in the air. Had I not been preparing to fly to the beach that day, I probably would’ve been a little more patient. Nonetheless, the weather cleared up to an acceptable level and we were able to depart. Read More >>
May 29th, 2012
It seems only natural to start this post with something cheesy like: “It was a day like any other day…” or “I had no idea when I woke up that morning I would…” and then drag the story out for a few more paragraphs before reaching my point. But, let’s cut to the chase because I know why you’re here. So here you go, folks--I SOLOED!!! It was awesome, unforgettable, and monumental. In a nutshell, it was everything I dreamed it to be.
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April 20th, 2012
Don’t get me wrong—I LOVE weather. But that’s not to say I’ve always loved weather. When I was little, I would take our two little poodles down into the basement with me as the first dark clouds rolled in, and there I would sit until the threat of danger receded. Mind you, there was hardly ever a threat of real danger, but after watching the movie Twister, every storm seemed like it would spawn a tornado at any moment. Today I thrive on the urgency of severe weather. My eyes are glued to the radar and I count down the minutes until I know we’ll get our first rain drops or hear thunder. After that, I can usually be found outside under an overhang or staring out the window enjoying Mother Nature’s wrath. Unfortunately, in the world of aviation, bad weather means one thing—you’re not going anywhere. Thanks to some extremely high winds, dense fog, and unusually early springtime showers, I didn’t go anywhere for almost two weeks.
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February 28th, 2012
My first official lesson with my new flight instructor was on Tuesday, January 24th.
We flew at sunset, and all of those inspirational quotes about flying came rushing to me as I took in the beautiful scenery around us. You know the ones I’m talking about:
“For once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return. – Leonardo da Vinci
“The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn't it be? - it is the same the angels breathe.” – Mark Twain
“Kristen can trip over air.” – My mother
Oh wait, that last one’s not about flying. But it’s a pretty good descriptor of how I operate on the ground. Read More >>
January 23rd, 2012
It was a cold morning at 8 am when my coworker, who is also a CFI, and I headed out to the Piper Archer we were going to fly to breakfast. Our destination was Kitty Hawk Restaurant in York, PA.
Our first step was to defrost the plane, which had developed a thin coating on every surface. The nozzle on our glycol tank was broken, so my coworker ended up pouring the glycol onto the wings and tail and we used cloths to spread it along the leading edges and as many surfaces as we could. Unglamorous as it sounds, I knew how important this was to do, especially with my aviation weather background (although at school in Florida, frost was not a common issue). As my coworker described it, the plane looked like an orange slushy, but she deemed it safe to fly and we began the pre-flight inspection. She showed me her process, which involves starting at one wing, checking the fuel, and making her way toward the propeller, other wing, tail, and back to where we started. Everything looked good and I hopped into the left seat, while she climbed into the right. Read More >>