No flying lately for me. My CFI is taking a little time off to study for an exam he is taking towards a degree, and so I have a little more time than usual between lessons. I suppose I could go up with another CFI, but I know and trust the guy I'm going with, so I'd prefer to stick with him.
But just because I'm stuck on the ground doesn't mean I can't learn. I've been reading "The Proficient Pilot," and I'm going to start cracking the ASA Private Pilot manual before too long. Not only that but I can refresh my memory by practicing flight maneuvers in one of my flight simulators; not the same by any means, but a good way to solidify procedures in my head.
I have a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator X, which I enjoy, but I also have a copy of X-Plane 9, which is somewhat more realistic and challenging in it's flight dynamics. The cockpits and interior graphics are better in FSX, but XP9 has better scenery and more attention-demanding physics. X-Plane can also be modified to become an FAA-approved Instrument Flight Training device by purchasing another software package, which should speak to the simulation quality.
So, while I can't get airborne at the moment, I can refresh my memory. I've flown dozens of traffic patterns, practiced my stalls and steep turns, and tried my hand at some cross-country using the analog navigation tools--no fancy GPS for me until I've nailed the fundamentals of analog navigation. GPS is an excellent tool but knowing how to use the analog navigation tools such as NDBs and VORs is handy. I could ramble on for hours about the benefits of pencil-and-paper, map-and-compass pilotage, but that's a whole different post.
Anyway. Until I can fly for real, it's practice, practice, practice.