Eight Years

The “Four-Four” mnemonic (as in April 4th) has a special meaning for me for the past eight years.

I have no idea who took the picture – some random stranger who happened to be in the right place at the right time. There was no one else around and I really, really needed the picture to be taken. I remember seeing someone walking by and I shoved my point-&-shoot camera at him and asked if he would take the picture. He did and walked away.

I was a bit discombobulated and excited – I had just passed my FAA Private Pilot practical exam (otherwise known as a “checkride”) and was now a full-fledged private pilot, single-engine, land. That’s my certificate that I’m holding.

I had been certain that I had failed the test. There were a couple of things that I didn’t do too well, and one particular thing I thought that I had bungled. (He cut the engine on me and asked where I would land. I started off on whether or not I could make it back to Whiteman, Van Nuys was too far away, there were multiple freeways around to choose from, a number of golf courses up in Santa Clarita… He pointed out, politely, that we were almost directly over Agua Dulce Airport and I should probably be aware of that sort of thing.)

We landed, I taxied in and shut down the engine. He got out and started to do paperwork while I pushed the plane back into its parking space and tied it down. He came back over to me and I asked what was next, expecting to be told I needed to work on A, B, C, etc and then I could take the test again. Instead, he said he was going to start filling out my private pilot paperwork inside, when I was done locking up the plane I needed to come in and sign it.

April 4, 2009. It was a very good day.

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