Thursday, June 18, 2009

And they didn't even rate me 4F!

A few weeks back, perhaps more like a month - I did something that I've wanted to do for a long, long time

Have you ever had one of those somethings where maybe years ago, you wanted to go through with a potential hobby, just give it a try and see what happens? Then whammo, years go by with you forgetting about it - life just gets busy - and you put it off. Then BAM! Something happens out of the blue making you remember that old desire and you say heck, I'll give it a go.

That's what happened to me.

And so I signed up for my first flight lesson to become a private pilot.

It was mucho amazing!! I even talked my wife and son into coming out to view what in retrospect could have been a horrible experience might something have gone wrong. Thankfully though, since I'm here gushing about flight school, I did indeed make it. And my family got to see dear old dad/hubby fly for the first time.

As previously stated in other posts, I'm not a small person. I'm a big burger eating kinda guy. I'm made for comfort, not speed. So when my instructor came out, looking half my age, eating a healthy snack, drinking water, being half my size and all Brad Pittish - I tried not to instantly hate him.

Seriously though, he was a good chap. And I'll never forget what's-his-name either.

First time flyers like myself get a TON of education thrown at them in an introductory lesson like this. I'm fairly sure this is in an attempt to "bring the noise" and show the noobs how hard this is gonna be. Weed out the weak ones, all that. So Brad Pitt rattled on about safety schmafety until I was nearly ready to scream ... I was thinking ... OMG lets get in the plane dude!

We spent about 20-25 mins on our pre-flight check. There is a lot to check. And I'm certain as one gets more proficient with it, you can skip over go faster through those checks. Finally, after much ado about everything, having examined every nut, this one got to open the door of the plane and get in.

Not so fast lumpy.

First we stopped and talked about the entire INSIDE of the plane whilst we just looked at it. I sighed on the inside. I was ready to get in the air. When I'm ready for something to get happening, I'm not very patient with getting things in gear. Some of you *cough .. Jenn ... *cough ... you're just like me there and you know what I'm talking about. We can't help it that we're so smart we know exactly what we want to do though, right?

I was ready to light that candle and be on the way.

So Mr Twelve Inch Waist leaps nimbly into the craft like some tiny elf. I dragged my ogre-like posterior into the cockpit (I DO wonder why they call it that) and strapped myself down in for the ride.

It wasn't long after this that I was informed I'd be flying. Right after that I rememberd I had somewhere to be. Clearly this pilot had a death wish. What he wanted to die young? With a chubby computer programmer at his side?

While he was explaining the controls I contemplated asking him where the laser turrets were and if the Empire had had Wookies in mind when they designed her .. but he didn't look like the type to get that joke. Kids today, right?

So he showed me how to steer. You steer a plane with your feet alone. Well that and your butt-cheeks grip the seat quite nicely - I'm fairly certain I could have navigated with tush-grip-power alone were my feet to lose feeling.

Nearly instantly I proved to Brad Pitt my complete ineptitude at steering a plane and he decided he'd um "take care of the taxing down the runway and the takeoff". I quietly thanked God for my non-coordination at that moment.

Well we launched her down the runway.

As soon as the dang wheels left the pavement Pretty Boy let go of the yoke and said, "she's all yours". Never had I wanted her less. Had it not been that I could see in his eyes he intended to let me fly I might have throttled him rather than the aircraft. So I saved his life and mine by taking the yoke and kept us pointed in the general "up-ish" direction.

I'm huge with official aviation language.

But seriously it was all mine from there until the actual landing. And it was so cool I can't even say. The plane by the way was small, a 4-seater Cessna 172. The doors were paper-thin. I saw the ridiculous little latch that held it shut when I got in. No WAY was it gonna keep me inside. And we were wearing just normal seat belts. My god. No airbags. No chutes. It was awesome!

There was a time when Brad Pitt was teaching me to bank the plane at about 2200 feet. He wanted me to tilt her over to about a 30 degree angle. That felt like death. My testicles beat a hasty retreat to somewhere behind my navel. But I did it. And to prove to me that the angle wasn't all that bad, Mr Too Cool For Flight School took the yoke and nearly stopped my heart by taking the plane over to 45 degrees just to illustrate how 30 "wasn't so bad after all".

Super funny stuff.

So we flew around for about 20 mins maybe more. Felt like years at times. But again, it was awesome! He taught me how to steer, how to bank, how to steer without the yoke or the rudder pedals - instead just making adjustments to the planes attitude with other controls (of which I don't remember their names).

So he let me steer it all back and begin our descent and then he took over. We buzzed some powerlines that are close the runway - a huge design flaw in my opinion. And we came in for a landing. My rear end remembered it was starving for seat cushion and took another chunk out of that sucker - I wondered if I'd have to pay for damages after this ride.

But we landed safely. We talked about future costs and how long it would take to become a private pilot. I got some paperwork, paid for my intro lesson and looked up at the sky.

Yeah I wanna do this. I'll keep you all posted on my progress :)


Jennifer said...

Um yes, Brian will attest to the fact that I have so little patience I cannot handle the idea of reading the directions for ANYTHING. I would be you instructors worst nightmare... really.

I have a great affection for flight. My grandfather was not very nice to my grandmother and she didn't have much of a life while he was alive. However, after his death, she got her pilots license at age 59. I find that to be a really inspiring story... and it should be to you too, see you aren't the OLDEST :P

Rob said...

That IS a cool story! Thanks, that helped more than you realize. I had been honestly concerned about learning that kind of new skill at this point in life. That made me feel better about it! :)

Shaddy said...

I'm so proud of you! I don't think there are greater joys than those that come after years of dreaming and then finally doing.

I can just about imagine the thrill you felt as you flew the plane up, up and away. The adrenaline rush must be abolutely addicting. Just think of how you'll feel when you take your first solo flight.

I can't wait to hear about that.

Keep living your dreams; you inspire me to do the same.