I'd been unable to schedule John's time for this week, so I decided to take the opportunity to have a lesson with Sergey, my original CFI with whom I got my PPL. I'm realizing even more now how my lessons with John could be better: For one thing, Sergey has a way of keeping the lessons from getting boring -- he realizes that by flying the same profile over and over, I'm just going to get bored and inattentive, and not really learn anything. We went to Oakland and Hayward, the Hayward approach being a pretty bizarre one involving a circle to land even on the runway that looks like it should be a straight in: This is because the approach is so high. The minimum altitude at the FAF is 2600', and the MDA is 800'. The MAP, which is part way down the runway, is only 3 minutes away, so while getting to 800' is perfectly reasonable (600fpm descent) getting to 0' to land, along with the time to make a decision and all that, is not. So you have to circle.
Landing at Oakland was fun; we did a touch and go and took off to the right, where I got a great view of the Oakland Coliseum. I still want to fly to a ballgame one of these days, and just skip the traffic altogether, but I don't think the AirBART shuttles go to the general aviation area.
Anyway, the point is, it was fun because we went and did something new, and yet I was practicing all the same skills. It's a lot better than just going to Salinas and Watsonville over and over again. In addition, Sergey was very clear about what steps remain for the checkride: Partial panel flying, unusual attitude recovery, long cross country, and an autopilot coupled approach. It's amazing how efficient Sergey is. He also spent an hour grilling me on my book knowledge -- or, more accurately, chastising me on my lack thereof. I need to study; I knew that, but now I know WHAT to study. It's what an instructor should do. It's scary how good he is at it.
Now, I'm not trying to take anything away from John. Part of it is a tradeoff -- what John may lack in focus, Sergey might lack in completeness. John wants me to know everything, and I agree, I should know everything, but it's a matter of prioritization, which Sergey provides very clearly. Part of it is that Sergey discourages me from overthinking, whereas John's approach kind of leads me into overthinking -- perhaps we're too similar. So these are things I'll need to look out for: I need to (a) study, (b) drive my own training forward, and (c) stop thinking so much.
After a lesson with Sergey, I feel not only like I can do it, but like I'm good at it, or at least, I will be good at it. I'd like to feel that way much more often.