Kathryn Spurgeon

Me? Land this plane? Lessons #6&7

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My flight instructor should have warned me, but it’s good he didn’t. I might not have driven to my lesson today. We do touch and go landings. Me? Yes, me. That means we will land and take off again before coming to a full stop. I thought you had to know much more about flying before doing that. However, our doctor friend in Alaska just flew touch and go’s on his second lesson. Hmm. Does that mean I’m a little …. no, of course not.

Now, Lesson # 6 is not a normal, first-timer, touch and go lesson. We have a hefty crosswind, the wind adamant on blowing us off the runway. We do three landings. That is enough. I offset the crosswind by using left aileron and right rudder, landing on one wheel. At least, I am supposed to do that. Thank you, Glenn, for landing us safely.

The weather for Lesson # 7 is fantastic. Meaning clear skies, no extreme heat or cold and, best of all, no wind.

We escape catastrophe three times (that I know of). My first take off does not look pretty. The plane heads left for the grass instead of going straight down the runway. At least I’m smart enough to know you can’t take off in the grass, so I yell into the headphone, “What do I do?” That’s my crazy mind for you, all jello. Forgot everything I learned. My instructor corrects us at the last minute.

 We follow the flight pattern around the airport and start to land. He explains the steps. Turn on the carburetor heat, reduce speed, put down flaps, announce on the intercom that you’re turning final to land, and don’t let the nose drop too fast. The barbed wire fence comes upon us really quick. I don’t remember it being that close to the runway before. “Keep your nose up.” I hear several times. “Keep your nose up.” I’m grateful he stays calm but without him, we might have seen more of that fence that we wanted to.

 My next take off is good. At least Glenn says so. (Maybe he’s recalling that earlier one.) Come to think of it, I never got a compliment for any landings.

Going along smoothly for our sixth landing, I get too confident and we start to bounce. Not just a little bump, but bungee jumping like at Six Flags. Nose facing the sky does that, I hear. The draft lifts you up into the air again. I don’t like it.

Seventh landing. Glenn says it’s time to quit. Don’t know if he has had enough, or if he sees the sober look on my face. He encourages me by telling me I’m doing better than my very first lesson. Well, I sure hope so. Otherwise, why am I doing this?

For the next few weeks, that’s all we will do. Touch and gos. Except more practice with stalls, naturally. I hope the landings get better, but I’m so glad an instructor is along to correct my mistakes. Otherwise, I might not survive. Wait, isn’t that why I’m taking lessons in the first place? To survive? Or at least to have a chance at survival should I need the expertise? 

 P.S. For some reason I have yet to diagnose, a group of airport maintenance crew and bystanders are casually sitting around the airport lounge every time I disembark. Then they disappear. Surely they can’t see or, heaven forbid, listen to my crazy flying lessons.

After my lesson, I drive a few miles to downtown Guthrie to shop (a way to relax of course) I stop in a drugstore for coffee and a man I don’t know comes up to me and asks if I’ve been flying. I look around. Did I sprout feathers or something? How does he know I just came from the heavens? “Oh, I’m so and so… and your husband told me all about your flying lessons.” Now, I’m certain my prowess, or lack thereof, is slung all over the airport.

However, maybe I’m paranoid. Or perhaps there are not many pilot’s wife’s out for a joy ride with a daring instructor.

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Author: Kathryn Spurgeon

Christian writer and speaker Memory House Publishing

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