Groundschool 2
12 November 1997

Tonight's class began with a multiple-choice test covering the main points of last week's class.  It's not the most elevating way to begin a class, but I think it was useful in this situation.  The FAA written test is similar, and this just works out to good practice for that one.  I had studied, so I think I got most of the questions right.

The next part of the class was a nice lesson in how to take up people's time and make them feel good about it.  What happened was, there were two guest speakers tonight.  The woman in charge of all flight training for Dominion Aviation spoke for a few minutes, welcoming us to the class and giving us a little pep talk and welcoming us to the class and so on.  She seemed nice and that was nice.  She said that Dominion Aviation is the largest flight school in the Richmond area and is trying to be the very best.  She said that ours is the eleventh groundschool class they've had and that in all of the previous ten classes, everyone had passed their FAA check ride the first time.

I can say that they certainly do have the best appearing flight school in the area--of the two I checked out, anyhow.  The other, at [a nearby
airport] had Cessna 152s that seemed to be poorly maintained (I looked them over) and the instructor I met there was rude and kept bad-mouthing the 152 and talking up the 172, clearly trying to get me to commit to the more expensive plane.  I almost signed up for lessons there, anyway, but on the way home decided to have a look at Chesterfield Airport's operation.  I hadn't checked it our before because I thought it was a lot farther from home.  But Dominion's terminal was so much more professional, and the instructor who talked with me there was helpful and friendly, so I signed up for lessons on the spot.  On the drive home I was pleased to find that it's only about 1.5 miles and 5 miutes farther than the other field.

After the flight school boss finished, Chris Edwards started the regular class.  But then an FAA honcho, Tom Jones (I think), arrived to welcome us to flight instruction and tell us about the FAA and welcome us to flight instruction and tell us things like that.  He seemed a nice guy and made several humorous remarks so low-key that I'm not sure even HE knew they were funny.  He also said some things worth thinking about and remembering.  On the subject of accident investigation, he said that nearly all accidents are caused by pilot error and illustrated that point by telling about a pilot who crashed in Virginia recently because she ran out of gas.  She had taken someone's word that the plane had enough fuel to fly from Georgia to Charlottesville--hadn't checked it herself.  He said, "Gas is time."  It sounds simple enough; but it has more life-and-death power than "Time is money" ever could.  He meant, of course, that when  you're in the air, the more gas you have, the more time you have to get out of trouble.  In other words, fill up your fuel tanks!  He also congratulated us for doing something that realtively few people do.  Lots of people think about learning to fly, he said, but not many really do it.  He said, "Only two tenths of one percent of all the people in the world are piltos."  That sounded like a small number--so of course I did a little arithmetic and found that it means there are more than ten million pilots in the world.  Seems a bit high.  He also said that there are only 88 other people doing the same job he does.  Now, that DOES seem a small number.

The odd thing in all this was that I enjoyed listening to both guest speakers, even I knew I wasn't learning much about flying from them--except for "Gas is time."

The remainder of the class covered the stuff in the textbook that we were supposed to have read.  I had.

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