Flight instructors come in all shapes sizes and teaching capabilities. Ten instructors had already graced the pages of my logbook. I could have taken this personally but it was unintentional. As soon as the CFI had an opening to a regional airline, he moved on. Most were living on bread and water and probably sleeping in their car, I couldn’t blame them.
This morning, the instructor du jour was to guide me to the highly esteemed commercial pilot license. We performed lazy eights, chandelles and emergency gear up procedures. After reducing altitude he said. “I have the plane.”. After relinquishing the controls, my plucky CFI increased airspeed to Vno. There was a clearing ahead in the middle of a forest. He dropped the plane down below the level of tree height, decended into the open field area and revved the Skylane to max speed:(Vmo for you jet guys) and reduced altitude to maybe ten feet off the ground. The trees that loomed large in the windscreen were easily 50 feet taller than us. Three wild turkeys streaked across the field in front and there was a deer on the left getting ready to bolt, hopefully in the opposite direction. This might have been an interesting setting for hiking, not so much for high speed “chicken” with Oak and Pine that couldn’t alter course. The foliage ahead was getting much bigger. I stared ahead and barked: “I have the plane, Gimme the controls”. But he looked straight, commanding: “WAIT”. Just before we made it to the tree line, he pulled back hard on the yoke and the airplane shot upward, narrowly missing the tree tops, until we bled off airspeed to sustain slow flight. He looked at me and said “pretty cool huh?” I replied: “What WAS that? You trying to kill me?” I took a wild guess that wasn’t part of the curriculum. During the trek back we talked about how much fun it would have been if both of us were at once wresting for control of the aircraft. He felt that an “advanced” pilot should be exposed to unusual flight situations but actually I think he was bored. This was bad instructor Mojo.
You’d think I’d learn. But, no. Since he was the only one capable of providing commercial instruction at this airport I thought I’d give it another try, since I’m all about second chances. Besides, we had a man-to-man helpful chat on things to avoid, like “don’t scare the customer”. So, we worked through various maneuvers including engine out landings, etc. at a remote airport. On the way back he’s looking a little bored. Bad sign. Next thing I hear is: ” I’ve got the plane”. I’m hoping this is another demonstration of a commercial maneuver and since there’s no trees around I’m feeling more relaxed. Until he put’s the plane into a spiral dive, building up airspeed all the way to Vne (never exceed), then points the plane straight up. I’m sure my eyes bugged out a little as we continued a vertical climb until the airspeed began to decay. Then the plane turned hard left completing a perfect hammerhead. Now we’re headed straight down and before you know it back to level flight. This wasn’t possible in a Cessna. At least until this point, I thought so. Pitts or Extra, sure, but in a plane that wasn’t placarded for aerobatics? Besides, parachutes are mandatory. Last I looked, I wasn’t wearing one.
AOPA magazine has a column titled: “Never Again”. It seemed a fitting reminder to try another flight school.