Blue Side Up! My First Flying Lesson!

Sarah at Stratford Municipal Airport(XFD)

Two very excited would-be aviators!

I think this is a Chevette Sarah!

And away I go!

Cessna 150..I want a red one because I'm sure it'll go faster!

Flight Instructor/Actor Dave and me! Is he really a pilot or does he just play one on television?

Today I took my first flying lesson!  I say first because there is no way I'm not doing that again!  Wow!  I absolutely loved it!

Let's preface this entire post by saying that I have a fear of heights.  Also understand that I have mild claustrophobia.  I am not, however, afraid of flying and I've always enjoyed commercial flights though there are occasional moments of, "omg, I can't get out of here."  This does not make any sense but then again, phobias are irrational.

I got ready with great anticipation.  My two little girls, Martina and Sophia were as excited as I was and came along to cheer mommy on!  Also in the cheering section were my friend Sarah's husband John and their three boys who are good friends and neighbours of mine.

I Told everyone I was doing this, set up a flight play list on my iPod...(it included a wide mix like Learning to Fly, Pink Floyd, Imagine, John Lennon, It's My Life, Bon Jovi, I Believe in You, Don Williams, Hell's Bells, ACDC and Flying, Bryan Adams.  Oh and Jump by Van Halen..just for the hell of it!) and got the rum ready to celebrate after!

This past year the idea of flying a plane was introduced to me and the idea took hold and wouldn't let me go. And one day I saw an ad, on face book, for a flight school nearby.  I decided immediately that I would do it before my birthday on April 8 and when I mentioned my plans to my friend Sarah she immediately admitted she'd wanted to fly a plane since she was ten and so we made plans together to go!

The plane was a Cessna 150 and it was tiny.  The flight instructor was Dave, an actor who had taken time off from the theatre in Stratford to be home with his children, while his wife worked as a lighting technician. He had his commercial pilot  license so he decided to become a flight instructor because it suited his family life better than the demands of the stage.  

We were first shown how to go through the checklist, introduced to the outer workings of the aircraft, check the fuel and given an  introduction to the instrument panel etc.  Then after a brief check of everything we got ready for take off.  Oh and now I know what Hangar rash is and it's not contagious!

Once we were in the plane,  Dave demonstrated the procedure for getting started before take off.  Anyone who is afraid to fly, understand that this is a very safe form of travel.  That little plane was very thoroughly checked and tested so I was not even remotely afraid as gave my good luck charm a quick pat and my seat belt an extra little tug.  I was not fearful at all, but damn I was excited!

There is a vast difference between sitting in a seat in the back of a large commercial jet and the pilot's seat of a tiny two-seater Cessna 150!  Wow!  I've always preferred flying in the smaller planes because you can see the landscape.  So when the pilot asked if I wanted to fly to Tavistock, where I live, it sounded perfect!

I was told that during this flight that I was the pilot with the instructor taking over for instruction purposes only.  The pilot had control during take off but immediately handed control to me shortly after we were airborne! 

I love that moment when you first become airborne by the way!  The miracle of mechanics creating the perfect circumstances for overcoming the weight of the plane so that if flies.  It's an incredible combination of scientific law and natural law creating a cocktail of the miraculous in one tiny instant.  One moment grounded, the next moment in flight.  What a rush that is.

And then we're up there.  I learned how to turn left and right, up and down, where the horizon should be, how to go higher and then descend to a lower altitude, how to get her at the correct attitude and so on.  It all gave me a feel for how the aircraft is operated.  It also gave me an exhilarating sense of control.  I was flying!

The tiny Cessna 150 was perfect.  Because it is so small I really got a sense of how it feels to fly.  It's like sitting on air.  I could feel the forward movement of the aircraft.  I could feel the little tugs of wind and when I would turn the plane in either direction I could feel myself fall with it.  I was totally mesmerised by the physical sense of being in the air.  I want to do this alone, to be completely on my own in the air someday.  Yep, you guessed it.  I fell in love with flying.

Let us not forget the view.  The perspective from the sky is completely different and it took a while to orient myself to what I was actually seeing.  We flew over my subdivision and it was difficult for me to figure out where my house was relative to the other houses.  We flew rather low over Tavistock, and then I saw the  highway and from there could see the water reservoirs at the south east end of town and that gave some sense of direction.  There is so much to learn, so much to take in all at once but the beauty of the birds eye view was enthralling.

And then there is the other view.  The view of humankind from up there.  And I don't mean the teeny tiny people in the distance but the overwhelming and creative brilliance of the human spirit.  It seemed highly unrealistic that humans would fly at  all not that long ago.  In 1903  the United States Army built a plane but it wouldn't fly.  Then  two eccentric brothers flew their own little handmade plane for 12 seconds, just 8 days later.  And now humans have pretty much conquered the sky.  When the New York Times reported in 1903 that perhaps humans would fly in one million to ten million years, they vastly underestimated the determination of the human spirit.  People wanted to fly.  So they did.

But before anyone could fly, they had to imagine they could.  Wilbur and Orville did not get that little glider off the ground at Kitty Hawk by thinking about the staying on the ground of things.  They imagined the flying off the ground of things.  And so they dreamt it, worked at it, and made it  happen.  And they paved the way for my little 30 minute excursion into the sky yesterday that I feel will become one of many.

After the landing, I sat and watched my friend Sarah take off.  As she flew into the sky I considered my own experience. Another dream fulfilled, another tick on the bucket list but another item added all at once.  I know I'l do it again, many times and because I know it, it'll happen.

When you have a dream, don't let anyone tell you that it can't be done. Don't let the world drag(pun intended) you down.  You can achieve lift in your life! If you want it, it can be yours.  If you can imagine yourself doing it, then you can do it.  You have the freedom to be what you want to be, go where you want to go.  It's all inside you. 

It is said that Edison made 14, 000 attempts at making a light bulb before he got one to light.  When asked about these failed attempts he replied, "I didn't fail 14, 000 times, I learned 14, 000 ways not to make a light bulb."

Remember..the sky is not the limit, the sky is only the beginning~there is no limit!
Carolyn R. Parsons



April said…
Your descriptions are making me want to sign up for flying lessons!!!!
RNSANE said…
I so enjoyed reading this. I was very fortunate, growing up in Columbus, Georgia. My mother was the office nurse for a physician, a general practitioner, who had a Beechcraft Bonanaza. From the time I was 8-years-old, I was flying with Dr. Gilliam, all over north GA and Tennessee. We'd take off and buzz his family farm in the mountain and land on the top of a sawed off hillside. Then, someone from the farm would pick us up in an old truck and we'd head over for a feast of Southern cooking before heading back to Columbus again.

When I moved to the Boston area after finishing nursing school, I dated a young officer ( who I ended up marrying ) who was a member of the base aero club. He was a private pilot and we'd rent a plane from the club and fly up to Maine for lobster or land in Hyannis Port and taxi to the back of Mildred's Chowder House for lunch. When our son was born, we took a Cessna from the Boston area to New Orlean to have our priest friend baptize him. I never took lessons myself but I was an intimate part of flying in small planes and I love it.