Saturday, October 18, 2014

Work, School and Rain

The passage of time and change of season are evident here in Portland where the rains have begun.  We have been pleasantly surprised, though, how warm it stays when it rains here. Back in Pullman, the rain is often quite cold; sometimes you just wish it would snow instead of rain. In Portland over the past few weeks, the rain and clouds have been burning off by early afternoon on most days, but the locals tell us that the days of gray darkness will soon come!
Bacon and Yogurt!

Since I last posted a lot has gone on in our lives.  Karen has been doing an amazing job and getting high accolades from her managers at the restaurant where she is a waitress.  She has gotten past the steep part of the learning curve and is feeling a rhythm in her work, resulting in a significant reduction in her stress level.  She is also receiving better shifts and really raking in the tips.  She's working 4-5 evenings a week from about 5-9.  While mom is at work, Grace and I hang out until it's time for her to go to bed.  I really enjoy spending more time with her than I did a few months ago.  We are working hard on her letters and she is able to identify several letters correctly now.  We also count the stairs as we walk up to or down from our apartment.  She is a really sweet and well-behaved kid; we have been blessed amazingly.

In the latter part of September I started the Aviation Maintenance Technology program at Portland Community College. Classes run M-F from 7 am to noon.  Our apartment is less than 15 minute walk away, so I just walk back and forth to school each day.  The program is going well for me, and I am done with the first module already.  There are about 20 people in the cohort (class) and we all get along quite well, which is important since there are many group projects.  There is a substantial range in age and background among my fellow students, but most of them say, "I was always fascinated with airplanes (or helicopters) since I was a little kid."  Lots of kindred spirits! Two others in my cohort in the program are headed for missionary aviation, as well as several more in the upper cohorts.  Several of the instructors have been directly involved in mission aviation.
Weighing an aircraft with a team of students

Much of the program is hands-on work.  For example, several different teams in the class weighed an aircraft and then made a record of that weight as if it was an official record that would be used in actual service.  The program is well respected in the industry and does a great job of breaking up the massive amount of learning necessary to pass the FAA written and practical exams into bite-sized pieces.  So far I'm really enjoying the experience and I'm looking forward to each day.

During the first two weeks of classes, I was somewhat distracted by the fact that my oral/practical exam (also known as a checkride) to become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) was impending and then ongoing.  The CFI checkride is one of the most challenging in aviation because the FAA wants to make sure that instructors who are teaching people to fly airplanes are qualified, knowledgeable, know how to teach and will teach proper procedures by both word and example.  This is understandable and I'm glad that the requirements are stringent, but it does make for a long and difficult trek to becoming a CFI.  Because of this, my primary activity outside of family for three months after moving to Portland was preparing for this exam through study, lesson plan creation and actual flying of aircraft as if teaching a student.  I received instruction to this end from Aero Maintenance Flight Center in Vancouver.  I can't say enough nice things about the people there and especially my primary instructor, Theresa. The course of instruction I received there not only prepared me to be a flight instructor but also improved my professionalism and knowledge base.    
Joe has been a flight instructor for five minutes

The FAA approved examiner assigned to my checkride is notable for having extensive checkrides, and mine was no exception.  Due to my school schedule, the examiner's schedule and a maintenance issue with an airplane, the checkride took place in three different sessions spread over eight days.  The total time of the examination was over 12 hours, of which the bulk was oral questioning, followed by about 2 hours of flying airplanes with the examiner.  On Saturday, October 4, the examiner signed off that I am a certified flight instructor. 

Once I had this certification I was qualified to apply for positions as a flight instructor.  I interviewed at at Hillsboro Aviation and just received word that I have been accepted to a position as a flight instructor.  The location and hours of this job are a perfect fit.   

In summary, it is both exciting and humbling to see how God has worked everything out for our family over the past few months as we follow His will for our lives.   We are also grateful and thankful for the prayers and support we receive from our family and friends.