Getting to know the other POV.

A quick post tonight, as it is extremely late and I have an early wake-up (I’m trying to re-set my sleep rhythm). I’m already up far too late, thanks to catching up on episodes from my favorite show, Downton Abbey. Love. It. So. Much.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a few of Michael’s students’ wives and husbands, and I always wish that I could get to know them better and understand what it’s like for them to be on the student side of my husband’s job. Part of it is because I didn’t know Michael when he was in flight school, but part of it is also that I hear about things from the instructor’s point of view constantly, but I’m curious to know how the students perceive things, and how they feel going through the program; do they see the same issues as the instructors? Do they like the instructors? Do they feel prepared to be here? What are their biggest worries? What is that schedule like? How much do they study? Etc.

On many fronts, I am thrilled to have a new friend down the street. I’ll call her S, and she is a really, really awesome person. I’ve mentioned her here before – we have doggy play dates and “mom” time together. I like her a lot and I’ll miss her when we leave for Japan.

In addition to being a great person, she’s also married to a helicopter pilot student. Her husband is going through the helicopter equivalent of Michael’s instructional squadron right now. I love hearing about what her husband is doing, how he is doing, and what it’s like from the other side. And, since he’s not Michael’s student, there’s nothing inappropriate about hanging out with S.

Even though the two training squadrons are not the same, they are equivalent, and I feel like their experience probably mirrors that of Michael’s students’. You know … hearing that there is a mean instructor who fails people, hearing that her husband is doing a check ride, etc. I dig that we can talk about what her experience is like. Hopefully at some point I will run into one of Michael’s students’ spouses in the future and I will be able to ask their experience. I know so little about the Navy and how things work that I am very curious to know more.

When Michael is debriefing the students after training flights (which occur at bars or restaurants) I sometimes go. I usually sit with the students and their spouses (who also go) while they are waiting to hear feedback. Michael will take each pilot aside privately and discuss his/her performance. Each student has a 2-10min discussion (sometimes more), during which the rest of the students are waiting their turn. I try to make small talk with the students a bit and I make it a point to talk to the spouses. I’ve had mixed results – sometimes the students and spouses are interested in talking to me, and others have been flat-out very rude. The students are under a lot of pressure, and not all of them want to talk to the wife of their instructor. I get that, and I don’t blame them.

I suppose I’m sort of like a college professor’s wife who wants to attend his classes for a day. I was a student in the very recent past, and I remember how stressed and crazy I was under so much pressure. I guess I’m very curious to know how these students cope. Are they the same as I was? Do they have to study as much as I did for nursing school? Are jets their final stop, or do they hope to get out of the military some time and go on to do other things?

🙂 Until I can finally ask one of Michael’s students’ spouses these questions, I’ll live vicariously through my neighbor friend 🙂

2 comments

  1. I used to work at a naval helicopter training squadron and I could tell you numerous stories of pilots-in-training! They’re in a very stressful position, as any student would be, but throw in the military pressure, competition, and commitments and things are all the more difficult and sometimes amusing. 😉

  2. I felt very stressed when I was in nursing school – stressed enough that I’d make stupid mistakes and mess something up from time to time … I can’t imagine the added pressure of being in the military and having to compete with classmates! What did you do at the training squadron?

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