Category Archives: Weight Loss

three months in

It’s been quite a while since my last post. I know, I know, I swore up and down that I would spend more time on the blog and keep it up to date on everything going on now that I am in a Part 147 AMT program. For those who may not know, a Part 147 AMT program is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificated school teaching people what they need to know to get there Airframe & Powerplant mechanics certificate or A&P. The AMT stands for Aviation Maintenance Technician or Technology depending on usage. I was hoping I could keep the site updated on a frequent basis but I have been much busier than expected.

I love my A&P classes, I just had no idea that the work load would wipe me out to the extent it has. Between the constant cramming, fixing flaws in previous assumptions, and trying to keep up with “day-job” stuff, I am just too tired to do as much as I would like to.

Speaking of the day job, talk about taking a back seat. I have been lucky to get a measelly ten hours or so in each month and that has had a rather negative effect on the old pocketbook. I did manage to get some headway on a long-standing project today, not nearly as much as I would like but something.

Progress on the weight loss project has been in a bit of a stall as well. I haven’t been putting weight back on, but I haven’t been loosing it. I’m not all that worried about this one though, I have plenty of time and I am ahead of schedule in this endeavor.

There has been a bit of a shift with regard to the airplane build project. My mission goals and priorities have shifted making the VP-I/II an insufficient aircraft for my needs. I suppose this is more than a “bit of a shift” but it has come down to two options; build an airplane that won’t really meet my needs, or stop it now before I spend more money on the project. Fortunately I haven’t put much into anything that can’t be used elsewhere. Most of my current investment has been in tools, books, raw materials, and hardware.

The materials I have can be used for a couple of “practice projects” I have in mind to keep the hands busy, as if I didn’t have enough to do. Getting back on track with the build was adding to the stress pile in my mind so off-loading it has helped quite a bit. I have some options as far as getting involved in a couple repair/restoration projects and there is even the possibility of acquiring a restoration project of my own, though for the moment, I think it best not to pile anything else on my plate and focus on the tasks at hand, school and health.

That’s it for this installment, blue skies and tailwinds,
~FlyBoyJon

P.S. I am no longer using Facebook, my user account is still there for a while, but I have deleted all content and connections so if you want to connect or keep in touch, find me on Google+ and Twitter.

A month into AMT School

AMT classes started on August 10th at Gavilan College so it has now been a month since I started the program. For those who are not familiar with what an Aviation Maintenance Technology program is, it is a course for people who want to become an FAA certified Airframe & Powerplant mechanic often referred to as an A&P.

As one might assume, there are two primary mechanic certificates, airframe and powerplant. You can earn one or the other if you wanted to, but most people do both, hence the general reference to aircraft mechanics as A&Ps. The program is broken down into three segments General, Airframe, and Powerplant and it is completed over a two year period. Since this is through a community college they break it down into 4 semesters, sounds logical to me. Because this is an FAA recognized program (Part 147) the students have a slightly lower requirement in hours to complete for each segment, it really is a great deal.

Anyway, first year students do General which covers math, physics, aerodynamics, tools & equipment, regulations, basically all of the fundamentals and administrative stuff. The rest of time for first years is spent on Airframe where we cover material, processes, metallurgy, structures, and pretty much everything aft of the firewall. Second year students focus on the Powerplant side, or firewall forward.

I spend seven and a half hours at Gavilan Monday through Friday, 08:00-10:30 in General and 10:30-15:30 (less 0:30 for lunch) in Airframe. The first two semesters follow the same schedule and are a whopping 42 units for the two terms; next year it will be a little lighter, 08:30-15:00 (less 0:30 for lunch) Tuesday through Friday for 28 units, the whole program is 70 units, now in case this sounds a little like complaining, that couldn’t be further from the truth, I am having a great time.

Another exam on Monday so I better get back to the books.

Til next time, blue skies and tailwinds,
~FlyBoyJon

Fitness – Mind, Body, & Soul

In my quest to be one of those old guys working from a nearly forgotten airfield out in the middle of nowhere, restoring aircraft thought lost forever to the ravages of time, I have been restoring myself, bring the old crate up to date.

We Can Do ItOf course there is school, and degrees are important after a fashion, but the real meat and potatoes education was from flight school, soon from AMT school, and there will be other schools too as I move forward eventually earning some sheepskin. If only one thing were true about aviation it would be that you are never really “out of school”, it’s a lifelong commitment to learning, maybe not in the classroom, but still a lot of learning.

This post is not so much about the continuous pursuit of knowledge in all things aeronautical, no this post is about personal growth, and like the never ending commitment of aviation, personal growth is a lifelong exploration as well.

While preparing for this career path, I committed to making some changes in my life. I am a big guy, always have been always will be, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Over in the sidebar you may notice a Health and Fitness tab and under that tab a box, today that box reads 37 pounds lost. At 323 pounds, I am at my lowest weight in nearly two decades, but there is a long way still to go. Ultimately I am shooting for 200, which by the way would be my lowest weight since elementary school. I wrestled when I was in Jr. High in the 280+ weight class.

A big part of this has been altering my way of thinking. I have had to replace an ill conceived thought process about what “waste” and “saving” are. This old, mental attitude invoked hording and stockpiling impulses making me think that a filled plate or a filled garage was was a good thing. This thought process could have been applied to nearly anything. “If I don’t take it all now, I might not have the chance later” it’s just wrong headed. One step in the process has been learning to let go of perfectly good clothing that just doesn’t fit, too big or too small, it doesn’t matter. With the frequent changes in size, most of my clothes come from a second-hand store these days anyway so even if I rotated my entire wardrobe annually it would be at a pretty low cost and I donate cloths back when they no longer fit.

While I’m on the subject of clothes; anyone who has known me since high school can tell you I very rarely went out without some sort of loose over-shirt, sweater or jacket of some kind. It could have been 120 in the shade and I would most likely have had a jacket on. This was totally a body image thing that I have struggled with my whole life. I am still a big guy and still have those body image moments once in a while. Since the beginning of 2011 when I started this weight loss plan I have been going out in t-shirts, in public, with lots of people around! For most of you this may not sound like a big deal but this was a huge mental shift for me. I am not planning on running around in a speedo any time… well… ever, and I apologize for the image, but being free from the self imposed torment of jackets and flannel during the summer swelter is very liberating.

All of this freedom to go out into the world makes it much easier to get out and exercise which is of course helping shift my body chemistry along with the dietary changes. Lower blood pressure, faster pulse recovery, longer endurance, less pain, no insomnia, no depression, the list of quality-of-life improvements seems to grow longer every day.

With AMT school starting in 51 days (yes, I am counting) I’m looking forward to seeing how this new healthier me does in the study department.

There are always more things to do and ways to improve. In my case, the slow and steady application of change works well and I look forward to a regular cycle of New & Improved editions of me.

Until next time, blue skies and tail winds,

~FlyBoyJon

Big changes continue…

I started this post a couple of days ago. I had to be sure things were going to happen before posting. There have been some big changes in my education plan over the last two weeks.

My first full semester at San Jose City College is just about done. Nothin’ left but finals next week. I have been doing well, I like all of my classes, my instructors are great, and I have made some new friends. My classes have all been GEs because I was planning on transferring to San Jose State to work on an engineering degree.

After doing some research and chatting with persons in-the-know I came to the realization that spending six years to get a masters in engineering just might not be a good idea. Statistically it is unlikely that a newly minted, 50 year old, engineer will be able to find a job as an engineer. Further more it doesn’t get me much closer to my career objective of restoring vintage airplanes and warbirds, with instruction and aerobatic competition on the side.

Another fly in the education ointment has been that I have little to no exposure to aviation folks. I have been focused on getting my GEs done, but there have been many distractions diverting my attention. Let’s face it, I have a lot of diverse interests. What I need to be doing is getting back to eat, sleep, dream, and live aviation like I was back in flight school.

With that in mind, I found a place semi-local, to work on my aircraft mechanic certificates. This would give me what I need to actually start working in the field. It also brings my objectives into focus on a practical level. A two year FAA approved A&P (airframe & powerplant) certificate program is available down in Gillroy at Gavilan College. It’s a bit of a hike and will cost a lot in fuel and auto maintenance, but over all well worth the effort.

One of the nice things about this is that I am still only a few classes away from finishing my AS in Aviation Operations at Mountain State which I can get done slowly over the next 2 years. I will also be able to get credit for my A&P, enough credit in fact that with a hand full of other classes I would qualify for my BS in Aviation Management. As for the Masters… I can work on it through MSU, SJSU, or another institution if I choose, but it really isn’t a necessity. The engineering stuff, well, that I can do on my own. The engineer provides data as needed to the FAA but is not a “Certificate holder”, It’s the A&P/IA who signs off on work done and mods.

In other areas…

Weight loss going very well. I am just shy of 30 pounds lost since the beginning of the year That is half of my goal for this year. It feels good to be getting into shape. Getting up early every day is still lax but I am getting better about it. School will held a lot since I will have to be in Gillroy by 08:00. I have also been getting a lot more exercise, though it is not every day yet. A lot more walking on the schedule and I have been much more active over all.

I have been keeping track of my food on MyFitnessPal.com and that has helped a lot. If you struggle with weight I recommend this site. Calorie counting is not for everyone but this tool makes it a lot easier. Recently I made some changes to the automatic plan they calculate by lowering my targets for calories, sugar, and carbs while increasing fat and protein. None of the changes are drastic, just tweaks to see if they achieve the desired effect. Boy have they worked out! 11 pounds of that 30 have been over the last 14 days. I am expecting a plateau soon but I am hoping for 10 more pounds before it happens.

The day job is still not getting the attention it needs but The plan is to focus on a kick-ass-and-take-names short summer with three projects that I want to finish before school starts on August 10th.

Building the airplane has been on a bit if a hiatus. I want to be in the shop working but I just haven’t had the time. It will get done, I just don’t know when. For now, it is not a priority. Once I am working on my A&P I may be able to use the VP as shop project time.

All in all things are going well and moving forward. And really, what more can I ask for.

Until next time, blue skies and tail winds,
~FlyBoyJon