Losing one's confidence

Discussion in 'Lessons Learned' started by Scaredy Cat, Jun 24, 2017.

  1. Scaredy Cat

    Scaredy Cat Guest

    Learned to fly as a teen. Flew up until my early twenties and then stopped (did the whole family thing and no longer had the ability to waste the money because I was no longer a young single dumb@$$, got a "real" career that demanded all of my time and then some, etc).

    A few years ago, I decided to get back into it. Did a flight review and all of that fun stuff, but one problem... My confidence evaporated! That was a few years ago. I've kept my biennial flight reviews more or less current since then, but that's about it - I can't bring myself to fly solo.

    I do NOT have a fear of flying. A band of goons could break down my door and kidnap me, and if they took me to an airport my first thought would be "hey sweet we're going flying!" I'm pretty much willing to go flying in anything that leaves the ground - hell, I get excited to go on commercial flights, despite the associated suck factors.

    See, the problem here is that any time I try to kidnap myself and go to the airport for a solo flight, I end up with a totally different mindset. Thoughts begin to race through my mind, like... "what if I have an engine failure after takeoff?" "What if this 40 year old hunk of begging to be beer cans is corroded all to hell from the inside and is going to disintegrate in mid air?" "What if the aileron control cables are held together by two strands of wire?" "How long since the last annual? Did the IA actually look at everything? If he did look at everything, could he actually see anything?? Do the wing attach bolts get looked at? What if fatigue cracks are developing in the wing attach bolts right now?" "When was the last corrosion treatment? Did the corrosion inhibitor actually reach all of the critical areas?" "What if I hit a bird on landing, shattering the windshield and the airplane sits out overnight and it rains, allowing water in the cockpit and thereby destroying the salvage value of the airplane and my renter's insurance isn't enough? Will I get sued into oblivion, lose my house, my wife divorces me because she doesn't want to be married to some poor loser that kills birds with airplanes and then has the pants sued off of him and I end up living under an overpass with alimony payments racking up by the month? Will she hire some goons to kidnap me and beat me up? If so, will they fly me somewhere to do it because that would be pretty sweet..."

    Ok, sorry to go off on a tangent playing out some of my overactive imagination, but I want to make it clear how my mind works.

    I feel like the next time I'm up for a flight review I need to find an instructor, and come clean that I have a confidence problem and that needs to be the primary focus of our work. But, I also feel like that with the machismo present in aviation, this would be not only a difficult subject to broach, but I might also hear something that I don't want to hear - and that is that I should just hang it up... which leads to my other concern.

    So, I guess my questions are:
    1. Has anyone here ever felt the same way, and if you did, what did you do to overcome it? From my research on the matter, this seems to be a fairly common mindset of students, but that's to be expected. Licensed pilots are another story, something I've not found much on.
    2. Should I just hang it up? A part of me feels like my conservative nature* is a good thing for a pilot to have, but another part of me feels like that p***ies don't belong in the left seat. What do you think? Do I just need to take up getting old and yelling at kids that ride their bicycles too fast down the street?

    *I'm a very conservative and risk adverse person, but aviating is the riskiest thing I partake in, and it seems to be the one area where my risk aversions go into overdrive.
     
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  2. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Why wait for your next flight review?

    Go up TOMORROW with an instructor and address the fear problem.

    Fear doesn't get better with age.
     
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  3. 1RTK1

    1RTK1 Line Up and Wait

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    Agreed, then after going up with the instructor force yourself to fly solo for a few flights and I bet the fear will dissipate.
     
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  4. Skates97

    Skates97 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Treat it just like the first time you flew solo. Meet an instructor and take a few turns around the pattern, then drop him/her off and go take a few turns around the pattern by yourself. Once you do it I think you will feel much better about it all.
     
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  5. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    Actually yes. It happened the first time I flew King Air by myself.

    It went away as soon as the wheels left the ground.
     
  6. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    This seems the simplest way to handle it.
     
  7. robert lomax

    robert lomax Ejection Handle Pulled

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    just bought 6329R 66 PA 28 Im a plane owner mpg
    Read the ad...
    Call the guy...
    Drive 600 mi, in 10 hrs..
    Look at the plane, read the logs, sleep on the couch...
    Get up, look at the plane a lot, again, go for a fly, sit down, give him cash money, get all the papers signed!!!
    Tell him "I'll Be Back" in a month.......
    Drive 600 mi, 10 hrs home..
    Fall down, break some ribs, get a respiratory infection, think you are going to die....
    The weather goes to hell for the next 2 months..
    You pack up all you need for the trip and its all in the bag for at least a week, waiting for the "time"!!!
    Spend too much money and too much time on, a ferry, on a cab, a bus, another cab to get back to Your plane!!!
    101 days since you bought it...
    Sit in Your plane,,, Alone...
    You have planned this for years,, you have been ready.
    Push in the throttle, accelerate, raise the nose, rise to your training, allow your fears to drain away..
    You could do this,,, I just did it!!!
     
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  8. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Robert! You're back! :)
     
  9. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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    You say you don't have a fear of flying when someone else is flying you but yet you list situations that cause fear in you. I don't see a lack of confidence in your abilities but a fear of dying. Doesn't matter if you're on the controls or Sean Tucker is flying you, if the aircraft "disintegrates in midair" you're done. That's just something you have to come face to face with.

    Your fears are based on situations that aren't likely to happen. I'm not going to give some BS statistic that says you're more likely to die in a car crash, but I do wonder how you can cope with driving. I pick up people from car accidents on a weekly basis but it doesn't prevent me from driving. I realize the benefits of driving outweigh the odds of being in a violent accident.

    So, you need to realize the benefits of flying, outweigh the remote odds of being in an accident. Only YOU can come to that conclusion. Now, riding motorcycles? That's just crazy, don't do it! :D
     
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  10. iflyvfr

    iflyvfr Cleared for Takeoff

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    I wouldn't hesitate to reveal my fears to an instructor and ask him to do an extensive preflight with you to address the issues you raise. Or maybe talk to the on-field mechanic about peeking into one of the birds he has in for annual or 100 hr. I don't know what level of access you have where you are.

    Every time I visit my mechanic's airport there are multiple planes in various stages of pulled apart/reassembled so I can look at the things that worry you. He also lets me participate in my annual so I get to see and touch my plane's pieces parts. That's very reassuring and kinda what Robert Lomax is getting to above: ownership comes with many positives & negatives, but as owner you control the condition of your A/C.
     
  11. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    I'm spit-balling here, but on those flight reviews did you hear "This is just a review, it doesn't have to be to PTS (or ACS) standards" I've heard that on airplane checkouts and on Flight Reviews.

    Grab an instructor and tell him you want to do mock check rides until he's convinced you would not "just pass" but actually impress the examiner. (kind of like @denverpilot and other say, they are minimums, why accept that?)

    A few hours of doing it perfect will probably bring that confidence back. At which point we'll be discussing one of the hazardous attitudes - invulnerability. ;)
     
  12. tspear

    tspear Pattern Altitude

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    Why the fear, sit back relax and try and find the cause for the fear. Most of the proposed solutions are dealing with facing the fear, not finding the cause of the fear.
    When I started flying, and to this day, I prefer twins and Cirrus for the emotional aspect of a second option in case of engine failure. I know the root cause of this fear, my first wife constantly worried about being left behind in case of engine failure and it infected me. I know intellectually, the chance of engine failure is incredibly small compared to me screwing up, but there it is.

    Tim
     
  13. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    ^^^ seems she eventually got left behind anyway. Without a life insurance payout.


    [Note: I assumed it was a divorce. Otherwise I'm an insensitive ass and am truly sorry]
     
  14. tspear

    tspear Pattern Altitude

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    Nah, statistically divorce is more likely. She passed away to natural causes, at a young age.

    Tim
     
  15. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    I went through the same thing after a several year hiatus due to largely the same reasons you posted (married, house, time, etc.). I got back into flying about 9 months ago and I was super excited... but after my flight review I scheduled the plane to do some solo flying and I had lost nearly all my confidence as well. Same thoughts you did... what if the engine quits and I plow into the industrial park off the runway, what if there is corrosion in that old Archer wing from 1977 and it snaps off.. etc.

    The only way I got over this was to do a couple instructor flights and then put myself back in student solo mindset and started to go flying at least once a week. Before each flight I did a full preflight and plan, called the briefer, etc., and off I went.

    The confidence for me came back exponentially.. my "first" solo was incredibly nerve wracking, but after a couple weeks (and now months) I'm back to my old self and confidence. I do find however that if I go more than 5 or so days without flying that confidence starts to erode again... so I try to go weekly, even if it just means 0.6 in the pattern or out to the practice area and back

    *I'm an incredible risk averse and conservative person as well, but nothing is risk free in life and if you are smart responsible then just about any risk can be mitigated. Use the checklist, trust the engineers who designed the machine and the annual inspections are doing their job, and go flying. Most plane fatalities are because of dumb mistakes, not wings falling off planes.. that made me feel better in that I am the one in control of my fate
     
  16. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    That really grinds my gears when I hear that. Any time I am with a CFI I want to be held to a higher standard so my skills don't erode over time. I try to stay from CFIs that have a reputation for being "easy" - F that - I want to use that $80/hr for instruction wisely and make sure I get something out of it, not just a generic "you didn't kill us so you are safe to fly" rubber stamp
     
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  17. Jimmycooper

    Jimmycooper Guest

     
  18. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    Find an old pro instructor, ( verses a 300 hour wonder) I had the yips several times as I quit flying off and on over the years due to work and money. The same 10,000 hour commercial pilot - CFII, got me going quickly in both a 180 Cessna and a Mooney. He was a real pro and was amazing on landings and takeoffs. Find someone like this and you will be just fine. Good luck!
     
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  19. Paulie

    Paulie Line Up and Wait

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    I used to get like that to the point of taxiing the airplane and then not flying. When I was skydiving it was worse. Once I got myself in the air, jumping or flying all the fears went away. The hard part is getting off your arse, give someone a treat and take them for a ride, most will be excited to go and it is infectious.
     
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  20. Glenn D

    Glenn D Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I was out of flying for the same reason,,, Kids, life.... 24 years and I stepped back in.. first flight for the first 20 minutes it was like I had no idea what I was doing... then it just clicked.... spent about 10 hrs with a CFI, did not get my medical back as I was going LSA, but then my wife wanted a "real airplane", so purchased a Cherokee in another state... when all the paperwork was done, inspections done, and the weather was ok, went up to get the plane... ( yes, got my medical back first)

    So my FIRST solo in 24 years was to fly a new to me plane 600 miles home... over the mountains of Oregon, over controlled airspace that I was not sure about.. landing at sunset at a place I had never been to before... spending the night to scrape the frost off the wings in the morning to fly the rest of the way home.... Great flight...

    The next day we went to Tucson AZ with my family... and back the same day...

    Just do it... jump in and fly the plane... it will all work out.
     
  21. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    I used to be exactly like this. Just wondering when the wing spar was going to fail.
    Or my new favorite, what if half the prop snaps off and the unbalanced torque forces the engine out of the mounts? Now I am just falling in an unbalanced aircraft trying all sorts of control inputs that are doing nothing as the ground gets bigger.

    I only have these fears when I am not flying often. Reality is these planes last so long because they are well engineered and odds are none of that stuff you worry about will happen.
    Go flying in the middle of the day in Texas and you will quickly realize these little planes are not going to fall apart.
     
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  22. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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    A lot of times I look at the rotor while I’m flying and wonder what would happen if it separates from the helicopter. Sounds terrifying at first but I have confidence in my ability to pull off a landing should it occur.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018
  23. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It happens. Friend of mine had that happen in an EMB-120 Brasilia years ago after taking off from ATL.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Southeast_Airlines_Flight_529
     
  24. TommyG

    TommyG Cleared for Takeoff

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    What if you slip in the shower and break your neck, what if get in a car accident, what if you have a heart attack while watching TV, what if a stray bullet gets you in a parking lot. There are so Many what ifs in life. For some reason most people overlook the daily what is and focus on one thing, such as flying. If you start dismissing your what ifs for flying, it becomes just like everything else.
     
  25. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    Worst nightmare
     
  26. X3 Skier

    X3 Skier En-Route

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    Once upon a time, I had some similar background fears. The I had an engine fail (ate a valve) with my very pregnant wife and our young daughter aboard. After a successful emergency landing at CVG, no more fears.

    All the practice at emergency landings, including grass strip practice, and a real emergency made me recognize I can handle anything save total disintegration of major structure. The chance of that being about equal to being run over by a bus, I enjoy flying.

    I suggest you get a good instructor and practice emergencies until you are confident you can get down safely. If after that you still are fearful, you have to decide if the rewards of flying outweigh the stress of worry about the minuscule probability of some unrecoverable failure.

    Cheers
     
  27. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Old dog w/o new tricks
    Seems like you have a bigger issue than a lack of confidence in yourself. You appear to have a lack of confidence in aviation as a system and the maintenance folks in particular if you are so worried about the airworthiness of the aircraft that these thoughts are entering your mind.

    I can totally understand nervousness and lack of confidence in one's own abilities if you have not flown in awhile and I agree with the others who say that can be fixed with some quality time with a good CFI going over all the maneuvers that you learned for your private pilot. Not just knocking the rust off but an actual polishing or honing of your skills. Many of us can attest to nervousness the first time going up after a layoff.

    However, the fears of yours that I quoted above cannot so easily be overcome as they are bordering on unreasonable. However, there may still be a solution. See if you can spend some time with the mechanic who is working on and inspecting the aircraft. Have a look under the hood so to speak and see if your fears are warranted or not. You will see that they are not. At least I hope that is the case. You could also dig out the books and review how the various aircraft systems work. Reread the regs on maintenance. Hopefully this will reaffirm that the system is safe and that aircraft are typically very well maintained. Yes, some aren't but you are unlikely to be flying these if you are flying at a reputable FBO or flight school.

    Good luck. I hope you get past this.
     
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  28. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

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    You might try going up with a CFI a few times to do nothing but emergency procedures. That might help with the rational part of your fears. The purely emotional part will likely just take time and forcing yourself to do something uncomfortable.

    Or your could do like me. Also take up automobile racing, motorcycling, and cave diving. The fears of flying will pale in comparison. :)
     
  29. MIFlyer

    MIFlyer Line Up and Wait

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    I got my PPL 2 years ago. I find that if I haven't flown in a few months, I get all nervous about "messing up" something. I either grab a CFI or just go tear the bandaid off (with good preplanning) for a little mission to get me back in it. by the time I rotate, I've gotten the rust back off.
     
  30. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    There are things in aviation that can kill you that are no fault of your own. The guy doing avionics on my aircraft just lost a couple friends in a helicopter crash, sounds like catastrophic transmission failure. They didn't do a thing wrong, their number was just up. Yeah, the aircraft can have unseen corrosion and fail with you in it. Those sorts of accidents are hugely rare, mostly its still dumb pilot mistakes.

    Your number can be up for all kinds of reasons. Comes with living.
     
  31. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    It's threads like this that POA really shines. To the OP, you aren't alone as you can see and add me to the list of pilots who gets the same way the longer it is between flights. I wasn't night current for 2 months and was reluctant to get current because I wasn't current so the vicious cycle began. As others have said, you just need to rip the bandaid off. I got in my plane at night, got on the runway, said a few words ala Alan Shephard (please Lord, don't let me **** up) and pushed the throttle forward. When the wheels left the ground was when the anxiety started to fade away and I even made six landings instead of the required three. Say that reminds me, I've just gone out of night currency again. :rolleyes:
     
  32. TylerSC

    TylerSC Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yes, I have absolutely felt the same way! It's all about managing anxiety. Flying more is the only cure that I am aware of. Go up with an instructor and do some short cross countries, pattern work, whatever. Or go with just another current private pilot. The more I fly, the better-equipped I feel to handle an engine failure and/or forced landing. Even on takeoff. Everything seems to happen slower and be easier to handle the more I fly. Also, I am more confident in my engine as time goes by.

    it sounds like you are worried about the maintenance of the plane, and insurance issues - both of these concerns can be addressed. If you do a good pre-flight and run-up, things are very very unlikely to just break out of nowhere, especially the airframe. You really would be more likely to die in your car on the way to the airport than for a wing to just fall off. If it's a rental it gets 100-hour inspections. Make sure you buy sufficient renter's insurance.

    Finally, flying is about managing risks by logically evaluating them. Machismo is not a logical consideration. Thus it should be controlled for and excluded as much as possible from any decision making regarding flying.

    See: https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media.../flight-training-magazine/hazardous-attitudes
     
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  33. danhagan

    danhagan Cleared for Takeoff

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    The OP seems to fixated on mechanical failure. Buy your own plane, go through it thoroughly WITH a GOOD mechanic. Some of the turds I trained in I'm surprised didn't hurt me.
     
  34. MIFlyer

    MIFlyer Line Up and Wait

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    it gets trickier. my club has a night checkout requirement (annual flight with CFI), so now that i'm out of currency, i have to find a time to schedule one of htem, I can't just stop by the airport after work and get the option 3 times.
     
  35. bluesideup

    bluesideup Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Hi.
    It's very simple, there is only one way, that I know of, that works. I've seen many over the years, it worked for all.
    Keep flying, as you get to the point where you feel you are the master, have complete control of the bird, the fear will disappear. Best way is to find another pilot and share / split expenses, if you can.
     
  36. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform Pattern Altitude

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    Good thread. All good contributions above. I could have been the OP (I'm not). I predicted wrongly that he/she would be hung out to dry. I'm glad there are others that feel the same way. I need to fly often to keep my confidence up. Been too long cuz of weather and I'm feeling a tad weenie myself now. And stuff breaks, but that's why we inspect and do prev maint. Grab a CFI, grab an A&P. Go fly. Don't do stupid stuff with maint, preflight, risk management, or after the engine starts. Practice.
     
  37. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pattern Altitude

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    ok... this is going to sound stupid as hell. I know it really is.
    I'm saying it anyway though, because I'm saying to try it and see if it works for you.
    It does for me...it's unquestionable.

    I have found, after much experimentation, that if I eat, rest and exercise properly, I have waaaay less fear while flying, and much more focus and confidence.
    If I eat a lot of sugar and junk food for a few days, which compounds due to not resting well and not getting exercise, I get less and less confident...in everything I do.
    Sounds dumb, but it's really shocking the difference for me.

    This may not even apply to some, who are already on restricted diets, or already eat and sleep well, and exercise often. But for me, when I do well for days, and especially weeks in a row, my whole life quality is much better.

    Hope you find your solution. Don't give up.
    It is out there...be it one thing or a combination of things.
     
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  38. 1RTK1

    1RTK1 Line Up and Wait

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    No doubt, Good physical health does give you a better mental health
     
  39. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Getting laid works too. But then you may not want to go to the airport. :popcorn:
     
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  40. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pattern Altitude

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    Different kind of sugar
     
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