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Winter in Alaska rolls around and it’s time once again for frost on the wings, snow on the ground and plenty of time to get the airplane pre-flighted and warmed up.

As we Alaskans go into a hibernation of our own, it’s time to work on things that we couldn’t during the busy Summer of Midnight Sun.

For me, that’s means it’s time to to hit the books and study for my Commercial Pilot Certificate. Becoming a Commercial Pilot is a long process, mostly in gaining the experience, and comes with a higher level of precision. As a Commercial Pilot you really need to be on your game, knowledgable about many areas, and be a quality Pilot in Command.

First comes the Written Test, which I’ve been studying a lot for. Many long nights of studying have prepared me fairly well. This part of the training to become a pilot is a box that the FAA checks that says, “ok, we’ve determined this person actually studied this subject area and knows what they’re doing”. But a Written Test doesn’t really prepare you well to be a pilot.

In addition to working on the Written Test, I was also flying with an Instructor and Mentor of mine, Alex Clark from Dragonfly Aero. While I’d eventually need to fly a Complex (retractable gear) airplane for the Commercial Certificate, I could at least get a head start and get my brain in the game. We had a couple quality sessions together and I felt I was beginning to pickup on the maneuvers required. Chandelles, Lazy Eights, Eights on Pylons, Steep Turns, Stalls, Takeoffs and Landings, all of these and more are required on the Practical Test

If all that didn’t keep me busy enough, and even outside my regular work obligations, Chelsea and I were expecting our first Child. Chelsea ended up having a 36 hour labor and delivery, taxing all of us but especially her. I was so excited to have this bundle of joy. It changed my life forever in an instant.

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Chris Palmer

Chief Flight Instructor and President of Angle of Attack. Founded in 2006.


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