Last week, I found myself once again flying endless laps around the pattern trying to perfect my landings. It’s a familiar situation — I had done the exact same thing months before, and I thought I had already mastered the finesse of the short field landing. Emphasis on the “months” there. That’s what got me in trouble.
When the time came for a quick pre-solo XC stage check, I thought I was good to go. After my third failed approach that day, I knew otherwise.
I have been trying my best to keep a steady day job, night job, and do my private pilot training all at the same time. I was averaging about two flights a week, and while the balance on my bank account wasn’t too happy I was determined to make it work. Shortly before my stage check I needed to fly off to a business trip, and so by the time my instructor had scheduled me for the ride it had been a couple weeks since I had any real practice.
I had heard from other pilots that skills have a tendency to deteriorate and that I need to keep flying to stay proficient, but I didn’t expect my skills to deteriorate so far so fast. It might be because I’m still just a low-time student pilot, but after a week of not flying it was like I was landing for the first time all over again.
After a week off, it took me four hours over the course of two flights to get back the mojo that I had lost. That’s a chunk of money that I didn’t need to spend, all because I took a week off.