By Beth Rehm
After working at a desk for over 30 years I decided it was time for a major career change. I was burnt out from endless conference calls, spreadsheets and emails and doing a job I couldn’t even clearly describe to friends friends and family. It was time to do something different and a perfect opportunity to do something I am passionate about. So I came up with a plan to get a job in aviation.
I had tried to work on my instrument rating a few times in the past but weather and work schedules had made it very difficult to make much progress. I decided to take accelerated flight training courses at Livingston Aviation in Waterloo, IA and scheduled to start those at the beginning of August. There were pros and cons with this path. On the one hand the training was full-time and I would have no other distractions. But on the other hand, it was pretty intense and being away from home had its own challenges.
To prepare for the accelerated courses I needed to study for and pass all the written tests beforehand. I bought a bunch of books and at the beginning of April I got to work studying pretty much 6 to 8 hours every day. I also used the Sheppard Air Test Prep Software (www.sheppardair.com) to get ready for the tests and by the middle of June, I had passed all the required FAA knowledge tests.
For the next six weeks prior to my scheduled start date at Livingston Aviation, I did as much instrument training at Galt as I could with my husband in our airplane. I am very aware of how lucky I am to be married to an airline pilot/CFI-I and that entitles me to free flight training! I probably had about 20-hours simulated instrument time by the time I went to Waterloo and it was enormously helpful to have that experience already.
My schedule at Livingston was 5 days a week, two flights a day (weather permitting) with ground school and a lunch break in between flights and some studying by myself in the evenings. There was more ground school and less flying for the commercial and CFI courses. My main flight instructor was Chad Lee with support from CFI’s Erik Mondt and Dave Hummel. All of them were terrific to work with and shared so much knowledge and experience with me. The line staff took great care of my airplane and kept it in a hanger the whole time I was there. I was flying so much the Mooney needed an oil change as well a replacement left main tire. The maintenance department at Livingston Aviation took care of those items so quickly I didn’t even miss a day of flying.
KALO itself was a great airport for training, particularly instrument training. It is a class D airport with three runways (06 – 24, 12 – 30 and 18 – 36), four VOR approaches, six GPS approaches and an ILS with a localizer back course. Tower and approach/departure controllers were extremely helpful and accommodating for training and check-rides. I did most of my training right there but I also flew approaches at nearby airports such as Independence (KIIB) and Olwein (KOLZ) as well as cross country flights to Spencer (KSPW), Fort Dodge (KFOD) and Mason City (KMCW).
I’ve been back and forth between home and Waterloo since August and despite some unscheduled delays due to illness and weather, I was able to complete my instrument check-ride on September 10th, my commercial certificate on October 17th and my CFI rating on November 14th. I am planning to get my multi-engine rating in the spring.
Seven months after I began studying and training I have my first job in aviation – flight instructing for JB Aviation at Galt Airport. Its been twenty three years since I started flying as a hobby and it is a great feeling to turn that hobby into a new profession.