Friday, July 22, 2005

Fog, Nerves and Choice of Schools

I was beginning to get hopeful about the 8:00 flight. At 7, we had less than 1/4 miles visibilty. At 7:15 it was 1 mile. at 7:45, 2 1/2. She showed up, and I figured it would be clear by the time we did the preflight. Not so. Back down to 2 miles, and 200 broken.

So we talked for a while, figuring it would burn off any time. She admitted to being nervous about the flight. She's from around here, but attends Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. One of the top schools around. Still, it intrigues me that of every ERAU student or grad with whom I've conversed, I've never met one that really thought it was a great school.

Most, I've noticed, never feel that they are really cared for as customers. Scheduling issues are not dealt with properly, the instruction involves too much unnecessary pressure placed on the students, and they don't accomplish ratings quickly.

I guess to each his own. There is certainly a market for that, as they have proven by their continued existence. But I don't really get it. Having never been there myself, I suppose it would be unfair for me to automatically agree with the claims I've heard. But after hearing it numerous times, I have to lend some credence to those statements.

The one advantage their students seem to have over others, from my perspective, is solid in-depth knowledge. But that doesn't mean other people can't do as well elsewhere. I became knowlegeable , not by having that thrust upon me, but because I was determined and motivated. I wanted to know far more than the oral exam would ever test. And that is all it really takes: motivation, and access to resources. I feel comfortable discussing regulations, aerodynamics, weather, anything really, with experienced examiners, FAA inspectors, anybody. And it isn't because I spent $100,000 on a top-end school. It is, in fact, despite having attended a sub-par school. It always comes back to motivation.

So, my student and I wait to see if the weather will clear. I think she is less nervous now that we've taken the time to talk a bit. Learning to fly is stressful enough, there really isn't any need to add stress.

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