Learning to Fly: The First Twenty Hours
Four months ago I made a life changing decision to become a pilot and start learning to fly, and my life has changed dramatically.
On the surface, not a lot has changed. I still go to work every day, I still fall asleep on the bus, I still drink too much on the occasional Saturday night, but I also squeeze in a few flight lessons during the week and life itself is filled with an underlying excitement of pursuing my passion.
But most people want to know what I am actually doing in these ‘flight lessons’, am I sitting in a classroom writing down complicated physics equations and drinking copious amounts of caffeine? Not at all.
A typical lesson looks a bit like this…
- I wake up. It’s an ungodly hour and I make my way to the airport. I must admit, I am not drinking copious amounts of caffeine but I do rely on a hit at 5am to get me going…
- My teacher and I brief. She tells me what the lesson is all about for the day, she clarifies what the expectations are for flight and she horrifies me with explaining what could go horribly wrong.
- We prepare to face the winter morning and go out to pre-flight the plane. Basically, this is just making sure the aircraft is fit for the sky. Important stuff.
- We fly. The highlight of my morning/day/week/life. Sometimes the lessons are simple, sometimes they are so complicated and stressful, but they are always fun.
- After about an hours flight we must get our feet back on the ground. We park and secure the plane and lock up.
- We debrief. We discuss how the flight went, how well I handles everything and how I felt about it all.
It all sounds quite simple, but it isn’t all easy. Overwhelming at first, learning to fly is a lot of work. Sometimes I feel like my head could spontaneously combust and most days that I fly end with a really good nights sleep. But as I progress with my training I realise that I can fly straight and level, I can turn, I can climb and descend, I can take off, I can land, I can recover from a stall, I can act accordingly in an emergency and there is a milestone coming up that makes my body shiver with nerves and my heart hurt with excitement: flying solo.