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« The Lake Wobegone Effect on Investors | Main | 2010 »

CQT 2010: Is That It?

On Monday of this week I successfully completed my Continuing Qualification Training (CQT) for 2010, and perhaps, for the last time.  CQT consists of one day of classroom instruction followed by two days of simulator training where we pilots once again prove that we know what we are doing.  While in the simulator the trainee is for the most part at the mercy of the check airman since he is responsible for insuring that we are proficient in all aspects of aircraft operation.  That covers a lot of ground!  I am not aware of another profession where the practitioners are required to prove themselves as often as are professional pilots.  The two days in the simulator are fairly high-stress days for me, and once again I felt the anxiety and butterflies that come with proving myself during a session while not knowing exactly what will confront me next.  Once again I successfully completed the training; I gave myself a "Gentleman's C" for my effort, and the check airman sent me on my way.  I always feel a sense of relief when I leave the training center after having successfully completed that little experience because a world of things can, and occasionally do, go wrong that can adversely affect the outcome of checkrides.  A moment's distraction, a poor night's sleep, physical problems, or personal issues can all rear their ugly heads at just the wrong time and affect the outcome.  Fortunately, none of those things affected me.  Once again I started reviewing for this affair about two months early.  I probably studied as hard for this session as any I have ever had; wanted to keep my perfect record in tact, don't you see, and I really did not want to screw up my last CQT!

The CQT experience is really a very thorough training experience.  When a pilot successfully leaves the simulator, after having jumped through all of the hoops presented him, he can rightly feel a sense of satisfaction and validation.  He/she has proved themselves once again in a challenging environment.  During my 37 year aviation career I have very likely had a least 100 "chances to excel" in a checkride scenario, and they have never approached being routine.  At least every six months for all those years I have had a stan/eval pilot, or a check airman, or a FAA inspector looking over my shoulder as I proved that I knew what I was doing.  In spite of all of that experience, I still get a bit anxious at those opportunities even though I filled that role as the check airman myself for over 14 of those years.  My palms still get sweaty, and I still get keyed up to prove myself. 

As I left the training center this time though, I had a slightly different feeling, one of melancholy.  Will this really be the last time that I experience training in an aircraft simulator?  Am I really about to give my good seat, front row left,  to someone else? Where will I find my validation and sense of accomplishment when I am no longer an airline pilot?  Flying provides many opportunities for almost instantaneous validation.  If an approach is flown on profile, you are instantly rewarded.  A nice landing gives an instant feedback.  If things are going wrong, you don't have to wait very long to see if you can make things right and get some feedback.  Where will I find that sort of feedback now?

I am sure many facing retirement have had similar feelings when they contemplated where their validation and sense of accomplishment will come from once they are retired.  I have read many books and articles about preparing for retirement, and all mentioned the importance of having something in one's retired life to fill this important role.  Retirees need a reason to get up in the mornings.  Some have found it in second careers, hobbies, friends, or various causes.  I am sure that these things are quite adequate for some, but will they fill the void that retirement will create in my life?  Answering these questions is an vital aspect of my retirement planning.  Perhaps I need to have this discussion with some of my previously retired friends.  Most of them seem to have found plenty to insure that they continue to have a full and rewarding retired life. 

Perhaps I am having these doubts because I am not yet focused enough on what I want to do in retirement.  So, what would I like to do?  Well, there are a few thing: I want to learn to play the piano and the guitar, learn Spanish, be a financial counsellor, get my golf handicap back to single digits, travel, spend much more time and every night with my snuggle bunny, write in some capacity, play more with my grandsons, work out more and loose ten pounds, have a healthier diet, spend more time reading the Bible, be a better friend, read more of the classics that I missed along the way, do more for others, do a better job of staying in touch with family, volunteer with an adult literacy program, volunteer at the local shelter, and volunteer more at my church.  There, although I am probably forgetting some, that about covers it!  Surely some of those things will offer me the validation I think I am going to need!


Fly/Drive Safely

28 January 2010


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Reader Comments (2)

I feel sure you will be a highly succesful retiree, but the skies will not be as safe.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGinger


January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGinger

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