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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Believe It Or Not I'm Flyin' A Plane!

Okay you were supposed to read the title to the tune of the theme song to The Great American Hero, which was a television show in the 80s that was far less memorable than the theme song.


This is me!I have to say that flying an airplane was the coolest, yet most terrifying thing I have ever done in my life.
Originally I was scheduled to have my lesson at 9am on Saturday, but we ran in to some slight complications. Like the plane not starting. It was below freezing and there was a bit of ice and frost on everything. I was told to return at 2pm, when it was supposed to warm up a bit.
Of course I would pick the coldest day of the year to have a flying lesson!
Before finding out that the engine was too cold, Bob, the instructor, went over the basics including how to operate the rudder, how to get into the cockpit without falling off, and why none of these gauges shown below are really important at all (okay they are, but they weren't at the time. It made sense somehow):
I wasn't prepared at all. I had been under the impression that I'd be learning a lot on the ground. I was wrong.
All of the lesson was going to be in the air.

We came back at 2pm.
Hooray! The engine started.

And then it stalled.

But it started again.

I admit that at this point I was a little freaked out and asked Bob if this was going to happen in the air as well. He said no. I wasn't sure that I believed him.

This is the airplane, a Diamond 20 or DA20 (link has a lot of technical info on flying these) or "a popsicle stick with a cockpit" as Jason called it.
Mr. Airplane has a slightly bored expression.

My first hands on lesson was how to taxi the plane to the runway. The rudder is guided by left and right foot pedals with brakes at the top. I was told to follow the yellow line. It seemed easy enough. Not really. Trying to drive with ones feet is a lot like playing THIS GAME. I was swerving all over the place.
Bob got us off the ground and handed over the controls at about 1600 feet, and told me to bring us up to 2000 and level off. Once again this was easier said than done. I've played a lot of video games in my life, and while I may be well prepared for the impending Zombie Apocalypse, I never did have a knack for any of the flying games. Or driving with a joystick for that matter. The slightest touch would send us up, down, right or left and every gust of wind was like a category 3 hurricane. Did I mention that I just ate lunch? I didn't get sick, but I admit that my stomach was more than a little queasy during the flight.
Despite the sensitive controls it seemed that when ever I was supposed to be making a turn I had a hard time getting the nose going in the right direction and could not get used to being nearly sideways for some of the turns. I'm pretty sure anyone listening in was having a laugh as I was apparently channeling Keanu Reeves (woah!).

The further I get from the experience, the more I want to do it again. Who knows, maybe I will. But I've got to work on the "look."

Pilots don't wear pea coats* and dollar store Jackie O. sunglasses.
*I think that's the navy actually.


  1. Our Amelia. Well done! I'd poop my pants.

  2. your mother patriciaDecember 9, 2009 at 7:35 AM

    You are the daredevil of our familia for sure! I am sending uncle ken the link to the blog so he can see you! Hola and we love you!

  3. awesome! totally awesome! I'm so proud of you!

  4. This is so cool! Glad Mr. Airplane got you up and back safely!!

  5. You look very Top Gun. And not at all like my mother! Good job being brave!