I miss a week’s lesson, then two weeks. Nervous going back to flying. I probably forgot everything the instructor taught me. Hope he doesn’t expect me to know how to land.
Confession time. Last time I flew, we taxied up to take off. Check list done. Radioed. “Guthrie Traffic. Grumman eight nine uniform. Ready for take off 1-6. Guthrie.” Yeah! I did it right. The instructor reached up to close the overhead canopy and it would not lock. After several attempts, he made the dreaded call to “taxi down the runway.” Seems when I unlocked the plane I had locked the canopy back up and we had to shut off the engine and use the key to unlock the canopy before we could take off. How embarrassing. This week, I notice the instructor checks the canopy before we leave the hanger site.
We stay low this time, nearer the ground where I can see the effects of turning. (And closer to crashing, I might add!) We do a rectangular course, follow the road around a square mile—thank you to whoever mapped out so many squares in Oklahoma. I decide that if I miss a corner I can fly another mile and no one will notice. My logic. But the miles do seem much shorter in the air. And some of my turns are much wider than others. Due to the wind, Glenn says. We learn to “crab” into the wind. Crab? Not a sensible aerodynamics term. Sounds like a Cajun word to me.
I learn that the nose of the plane may not be headed directly straight in front of you to go straight. Huh? He explains again. The aircraft nose may be at an angle when heading straight—because of the wind factor. So different than a car. A car goes straight, a plane may not?
Speaking of cars, I finally tell my instructor I was the worst driver in my high school Driver’s Education Class. Ask my nervous classmates. I hit a ditch at every corner, drove off the highway, and ran a car off the road. Glenn says he’s glad I didn’t tell him about my lack of natural ability before we started.
Next we follow the winding Cimarron River, a natural playground in the air. Like walking on a balance beam, I try to keep the plane from descending or ascending while weaving back and forth. I need practice. Lots of it.
Landing is not as smooth, but then what do I expect? Beginner’s luck again? As we hit the concrete, we head off the runway to the left. My instructor calmly veers us back to the center like it’s a normal everyday landing, not like some raw, inexperienced imbecile is in the cockpit with him.
Wow. This is more complicated than I thought. Also more fun.
My stepson Jason flies with me after my lesson. I think we’re both starting to enjoy it more. (That first lesson was a little tense.) We try the rectangular course and the winding playground so much I get nauseous. He tells me he also gets nauseous on an empty stomach. Him, a seasoned pilot! Makes me feel better anyway. We make it back safely—the flying cut short so I can go to McDonald’s.
P.S. Maybe I should tell him about my traumatic Driver’s Ed class. Nah.