Learning to Fly
I began flying, as a passenger, when I was a baby. I loved it from the first. Ever since, I try to sit by a window so I can see the sky zoom by, and cities and oceans and landscapes below. This is about as close as I like to get to nature.
So, when I retired from the practice of law, I decided to learn to do it myself--at Heavy Metal Air. I had no idea what I was getting into, and since I had not even driven a car in two decades it might have seemed quixotic that I wanted to do something much more complicated, in the sky. But when my sixteen year old son began taking lessons, I said, let's do it!
Much has been written about the joy and beauty of being in the sky. All of it is true. Little has been written, however, about the funnier stuff.
First, it is funny to find yourself, after forty years of being a pretty self-sufficient litigator, at the mercy of people half your age. They are your certified flight instructors--in my case, Justin and Kelleen. They have your life in their hands. Your CFIs observe you shrieking in terror, or being really dumb--qualities you have hidden for decades. Mortifying.
Second, it is funny that you need to tell your CFI, and lots of other people, something you would not tell your closest friends--how much you weigh. You need to calculate whether the weight and balance of your little airplane is within limits. Your flight school personnel also know your age, and a great deal more about you, because you need medical certificates and other governmental permissions in order to get onto the tarmac and into your plane. Disconcerting!
Third, it is funny that, even though the plane is very small, I need to sit on a large red cushion if I want to see out the window. I feel like an idiot carting around the large red cushion.
Fourth, the plane has no reverse. To park it, you have to push it into its place. To watch me pushing even a small plane around is pretty silly.
Finally, it is funny to study and take exams after forty years. To get a license, you have to take three tests--a written test, an oral test, and a flying test. Your CFI will help you with the flying part, but much of the rest is up to you. “The rest” includes learning about the federal regulations governing pilots and airspace and also learning about the parts of the plane and what they do, the physics that govern flight, how weather works, how to read an aviation map, what your body will do under stress and when flying in darkness. Intimidating!
But so far it is all just thrilling. I love being in the air, I love going back to school, and I particularly love that, even though I now know exactly why a plane can fly, it still seems like magic. Flying solo is amazing. And just a few days ago, I got my license and took my first passengers to the beach.
On to instrument training!