I haven't written a lot the past few weeks, mostly because this blog is about flying and I haven't flown very much since the first of the year. Since my last post I have done a lot of development work though, so I'll go through that a little bit.
Long story short, I tried to do some advertising at the Claremont Colleges. I ran a Facebook ad targeted at local college students, which got some results, but not many. The first potential client I met contacted me after seeing those ads. He is a student here in Claremont, and we met on campus one day to discuss flight training. He seems very interested, though he wants to start his training with me once this semester is over, later on in the spring. That was pretty exciting for me, and if he does decide to fly with me than the Facebook ad was worth the money. I also printed up some fliers and hung them on the campuses, but didn't get any hits from those.
Last Friday I was pleasantly surprised with a referral from Tony, the manager of the flying club at Cable. He had given my number to a guy named Brandon, and we met for the first time last Sunday. He has already taken a ground school class and passed his FAA written test (well done!), which will really help move his training along. He is also in school, is interested in at least training to the commercial pilot level, and seems very motivated. Having flown a time or two in the past, he did very well in the air, and I don't anticipate many problems for us.
Finally, one of Megan's friends from school decided to try flying. Her name is Erin, and she is really excited at the prospect. We flew today, and really seemed to enjoy the flight. I know I did; crisp clear sky and little to no wind or turbulence was a welcome change from all the rain and cloud we have had lately. We are scheduled to fly again, and she seems like she will progress quickly.
That puts me at one potential client and two active clients at Cable Airport.
I am excited to be busy again, especially doing the pre-solo training that all three of these people are working on right now. That is by far my favorite training to do, and it has been a couple months since I have really spent a lot of time on that (my last month or so back home saw me spending time getting mostly-trained pilots ready for their testing). I did notice I was a little bit rusty getting back into the groove, at least for the first 10 or 15 minutes, but once in the air, I felt pretty well on top of my game again. My biggest challenge working out of Cable will be staying organized and keeping records, I can tell already. I need to remember to use the checklists and scripts I have prepared for myself, and I need to develop some kind of filing system or something for each of my students.
And...in addition to that work at Cable, I am also officially employed at Fly Corona, a part 61 flight school at Corona Municipal Airport. How that came about is a long story, but I'll try to make it short. The moral of the story, however, is that networking is important - especially so in aviation. You never know what actions or words will get noticed by whom, and whether that is good or bad.
About a year ago, when Meg and I knew we were planning on moving 2,300 miles to the left coast, I started looking for potential employers here in the Inland Empire. One of the people I contacted through AOPA's online discussion forum was Mike B., the manager of Fly Corona. I just asked him if he knew any schools that were hiring, and what he expected the job marked to be like in 6 months, meaning Fall of 2010. At the time, that was the latest I expected to have moved. To my surprise, he offered me a job at his place, but I was unable to accept, and didn't end up moving until after the first of the year.
Fast forward to this past Monday, the 21 of February. I flew down to San Diego with Joe, another friend I met on AOPA's boards. We went on a tour of the Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control Center (SoCal TRACON), with about 35 other AOPA members. The tour was organized by Bob, a long-time controller, and it was an impressive experience. I learned so many things about what goes on at the other end of the radio, and feel a lot more confidant about operating here. We even learned a few "secrets" about some of the services the TRACON provides.
While at the tour, I ended up talking to "Mike", who quickly recognized me from our conversations almost 9 months earlier. He ended up offering me the job again, I accepted, and there ya go! Seems he remembered a tutorial I posted online last February about some basic uses of the Skew-T chart, a type of weather product heavily used by meteorologists that has some niche uses for us pilots as well. Thus the moral of the story I mentioned earlier in this post.
I drove down to Fly Corona yesterday, and met several of the people. Turns out one or two of them have read and followed this blog in the past, I've talked to others online and not known it. Its a small world for sure. This means I have to be extra careful what I say, because now there are watchful eyes to call by BS! I'm joking of course :)
At any rate, everyone I met was very cool and laid back, Fly C looks like about the perfect place for a CFI to land in SoCal. They take very good care of the employees, and promise to keep us busy. That part I believe, I just signed the contract Saturday and my schedule for the coming week is about half full already! Apparently they just ran an ad on GroupOn, and sold over 750 demonstration flights. I'm going to be doing a lot of those (along with everyone else there), and hopefully we can convert a significant number of them into flight students. Those demo flights are mostly out to Catalina Island and back, so I'll be seeing a lot of the Pacific coast in the very near future (tomorrow morning actually).
Let's do some quick accounting here...two, possibly three students at Cable. A full time schedule at Fly C. Looks like I'm back in the business again. From May to November last year, Attitude Aviation kept me very busy, I was at the airport 6 or 7 days a week, sometimes for 14 hours at a time. My schedule is headed in that direction again, and I'd be lying if I said I was anything but elated. The main difference is I'll be juggling two different sets of schedules though, so when I make an appointment at one place I'll need to be very careful not to book myself at the other airport for the same time slot. Wish me luck...
I'll end with some pictures of the flight to San Diego:
Here is a mountain poking out of the haze layer. We were at 5,000' on our way to 7. As best I can tell, my chart says that is Santiago Peak, at 5720' above sea level.
Here is a view of the San Gabriel mountains behind us as well as the Ontario/Inland Empire area.
On the arrival into Montgomery Field (KMYF) in San Diego I got a shot of some very odd-looking rocks. There were a lot of ridges below us that looked like this.