In my quest for more adventure (because, you know, having four boys isn’t quite adventurous enough), I looked into what it would take to earn my pilot’s license. There is a local flight school, whose owner happens to be a dad I know, that offers introductory flights to anyone who might be interested in giving it a shot. It’s kind of like, Here, try a bite of this delicious chocolate brownie sundae, and see if you want more. Of course I want more! It was awesome!
I climbed into the tiny little seat of the Cessna 172 training plane (no training pants, training bra, or training wheels included) and felt like I was in a flying version of my uncle’s old MG Midget. Surprisingly, this plane wasn’t that old–a 2004, I think. It was cozy, but intimidating at first. The instrument panel reminded me that I had no idea what I was doing. My instructor, Bryce, assured me that the plane was safe and that he would take over if anything were to happen. He then proceeded to explain what we would do in the event of an emergency, and showed me where the fire extinguisher was located. “And where do we go if the plane catches on fire?” I asked. “We stay here,” he replied, “and land the plane.” Oh.
Remembering that I did sign up for this, I swallowed my fear and listened to Bryce’s directions. The floor pedals control the direction of the plane while it’s on the ground, as well as the brakes. He let me swerve around the runway a little bit before we were cleared for take-off. I wondered what is the equivalent of a DUI for flying…an FUI?
Since my only flying experience has been in the Economy section of a commercial airline, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the small plane. I barely noticed that we had lifted off until I saw the ground falling away from us. It was magical! As we ascended, I marveled at the engineering required to make that happen, and safely. Bryce talked to me a little bit about how the air gets under the wings and the flaps adjust to the pressure (this is probably a completely inaccurate description, but it’s my interpretation). I was allowed to pull back on the little steering wheel that lifted us higher and higher. We leveled out and I was flying! It actually felt more like floating: smoothly sailing across the sky with a beautiful view of the autumnal colors below.
We stayed in the air for about 45 minutes, finding landmarks, specific waterways, and even my house. It was fabulous! Someone once warned me, a long time ago, that flying is an addictive and expensive habit if you take it up as a hobby. That is a totally accurate statement. Now I just need to figure out how to make it work!