Freshly Paved Asphalt

This morning, I met with a woman out here named Mary, and I found it ironic that she would be my flight instructor because I saw her on the “Local Legends” clips of the news not twenty-four hours after I booked with her.  She was probably friends with the Wright brothers and, at 73 years old, she knew so many historic facts about the area that I’ve lost track of most of them already.  We spent about three hours together today, and the first half-hour of my lesson today was both of us just getting to know each other.  She asked a lot of the same questions that I would have, had she not beat me to them, and you could honestly feel that she genuinely cares about her students.  She isn’t just another instructor, and you aren’t just another student to her.

I did the preflight (a mechanical checklist, basically…I’m pretty adept at those right now), and soon enough we were in the airplane (a Cessna 172), and getting back on the bike again.  Mercifully, she handled the radios today, as I would’ve been a little overloaded at times; as expected, there is a lot that I’ve forgotten.  We spent about 1.1 in the air.  Takeoff was easy enough, of course–airplanes are designed to fly, they just want to if given enough speed–and we took a tour over the area just north and west of Tucson.  She pointed out the landmarks and mountain names, and we flew right over the Silverbell Copper Mine (gorgeous from the air).  It’s really something to get your bearings on an area as vast as the country is from the air, where there are no signs to point the way.   When the time came to land, my approach was pretty sloppy (decidedly eight years old), but my final approach turned out to be pretty stabilized, and the landing was up there with any of my other best on the Grease-O-Meter.  (For anyone wondering, pilots usually refer to a really smooth landing as having “greased one in.”)  Like riding a bike.

Over all, the flight was everything I’d hoped it would be.  I got used to the aircraft and its quirks (it’s a 1967 model), and learned something about what skills I still have, and what I need to develop.  In a week, we’ll be up doing nothing but pattern work (takeoffs and landings) to get me current again, and after that, we’ll take a cross-country trip so that I can brush up on my trip planning skills.  With any luck, the cross-country will go smoother than my first solo one did, back in the day.  Feel free to ask about that one, if you have yet to hear the story and are interested.

I drove straight from the airport to my bi-weekly Toastmasters meeting, where I Toastmasted for the first time.  I had been slightly nervous about it since I’d only found out last night that it would be my role, but it was as easy as any Student Government or Phi Delt meeting ever was to lead.  I worked straight off the agenda, and the meeting ran itself.

I’m pretty proud of myself, I’ll admit.  I walked out of that meeting to my car, and had one of those cheesy moments when I smiled to myself and thought, “I’m finally on my way.”  I was nervous about getting back in the plane…but Mary assured me there was no need for it, and it turned out that there wasn’t.  I was nervous about the Toastmasters meeting, but  again–nothing to worry about.  Conquering fears, becoming stronger, continuing training…these are the things that I’ve chosen as my road to follow, and so far, I’m driving a Lexus down a brand new highway.

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    • Robin Laws
    • May 6th, 2010

    YAY! SO exciting to hear about your flight!
    I had to laugh at the “greased it on” phrase. One time I was at a conference and a gentleman came up to talk with me about the booth I was representing. We chatted for awhile and then he told me about a story of a great landing he had and he and his instructor called it a “who’s ur momma” (or daddy) landing! haha…thought you might get a kick out of that.

    Keep up the great work. Glad you are getting to go fly again-I’m enjoying cruising along around the runways and taxiways in ICT…hoping that if I get the truck up to a fast enough speed, I will take off. So far, no luck…! 🙂

  1. Thanks, Robin…I have to say, the biggest support I’ve had from people who are excited for me to get back in and get it done (excepting friends and family) has been from other pilots. I understand what they mean–it’s exciting when I’ve seen friends of mine go and get their A&P, and even more exciting if I can help them out studying through it, somehow.

    I finally feel at “home” in the airplane…my instructor told me, “Those years of being a mechanic have been good to you because your cross-check is very good,” with reference to instruments. In fact, she had to tell me to focus more of my attention outside the plane than on the instruments for that flight. I’m grateful to have met her, and I wish that I had more time with her than just the couple of months that we have left here in AZ before we move. Hey–I wonder how much it’d cost to rent a plane and take it up to the Chicago area to visit my family for a night? It’d probably be a solid eight hours’ total, depending on the plane, and we’ll be in ICT for over a week…have you got access to who rents down there? Does Chris still have access to Beech’s planes? That could be a GREAT time!

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