Sahya Sinha

When I did my flight training, I always enjoyed the flying part.  The view and the personal freedom made me feel like I was in heaven.  What I didn’t like was sitting through the ground schools.  I thought they were boring and a waste of time.  You learn flying by being in the air, right?

Ground school and theoretical knowledge are extremely important, and not just for the written exam.  I was doing some solo circuits when I was training in Canada.  When I was checking the airplane before flying, I noticed some ice pellets falling to the ground.  They looked harmless enough.  The airport was uncontrolled, so I announced my intentions and took off.  After becoming airborne, I noticed rain started falling in place of ice pellets. Suddenly, I had trouble controlling the aircraft.  I could no longer maintain altitude, and rushed towards the runway. The rain on the wings and windshield had all frozen and turned to ice!  Luckily, I made the runway, and as I flared, the aircraft immediately and violently hit the runway without floating.  When I taxied the airplane back, it had ice all over it.  My instructor later told me I was lucky not to have had an accident.

I later found out that if I’d paid attention in ground school, I’d have learned that ice pellets are a sign of freezing rain above.  I’d have also known about the conditions at the winter warm front and known how to read it on a weather map.  I could have easily avoided the whole situation.  It is too bad I had to learn such a harsh lesson the hard way, but from now on I will always take all material in ground school very seriously, and encourage everyone else to do the same!

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