Once upon a time, a self-proclaimed Archaeology-Lifer got a job as a flight attendant. No one knows quite how it happened. Here's what happened next...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tango Mike Mike

On March 27th at 5:00pm I had my first flying lesson.
There really aren’t that many words that I can use to express how that felt, but bear with me while I make an attempt.
I got to the club a little early. My Mum had come along with me. She wanted to be supportive, which I really appreciated. But I begged her not to take photographs though. I was still dealing with the fact that I might struggle a little to be taken seriously, and having my Mum hovering and taking pictures of my first lesson probably wouldn’t help. She was pretty good, and didn’t take any pictures until I had gotten outside. Then she took lots through the windows, which I actually kind of appreciated. Funny that.
I spent a few hours online the night before reading up on the Cessna-150. I like to be prepared. I found a fantastic little website - http://www.cessna150.net/. It’s some bloke who owns a C-150, and takes you through the entire process of a flight, from pre-flight checks to taxiing after landing. I found it really helped when My Instructor was going through everything with me. Plus some things I had already picked up from the boys at The Airline. I think My Instructor seemed a little surprised that I had come prepared. At one point he said he was just going to call ATC for a transponder code, and I asked if that was the same thing as a squawk. His response was along the lines of ‘How do you know what a squawk is?’, until I explained that I was a flight attendant, and a bit of a keener.

The pre-flight checks went pretty quickly. My Instructor didn’t really go into a lot of detail, just sort of went through the motions while telling me what he was checking, since it was just an introductory lesson. Then it was time to go! While taxiing to the runway, the Instructor started showing me how to use the rudder pedals during taxiing, and let me have a go. Sad to say I was totally useless! OK, well not entirely, but we were supposed to be on the yellow line, and I definitely was not. Once he got us all lined up on the runway he told me to take the control column and to pull back when he said so! So I basically did the rotation of the take-off, although he did all the hard work.

And then we were up in the air! The Instructor got us heading in the right direction, and then told me he was tired of flying already, and that I should give it a go. I was a little surprised, and had a bit of a deer-in-headlights moment. Someone was letting me take control of an airplane? Really? Wow. So I took control. It was, surprisingly, harder than I thought it would be to make a Cessna flight straight and with the right attitude and at the correct altitude! So much to think about. But I was doing it, I was flying a plane. The Instructor asked me how it felt and I had no words.
Then he asked if I was too cold and needed heat. I suddenly realised I was freezing because the door had popped open on take-off and I hadn’t noticed. He reassured me that it was quite common for this to happen with a Cessna, but I felt like a right tool for not noticing. Oh dear.
The flight didn’t last long, or at least it didn’t feel like it did. In actuality it was probably about 45 minutes, but it flew by (ho ho). We did a quick tour of the city, including a fly-by of Scotiabank Place, home of the Ottawa Senators, my favourite hockey team, and then a quick trip around Parliament Hill before heading back to the airport. He encouraged me to do some of the work lining up the plane for landing, but unfortunately it was quite windy, so he took over.
And then my first flying lesson was over. Mum was watching from the flying club lounge, and she said that while I was walking back to the building I had the biggest smile on my face. I knew 100% that I wanted to do it, so I signed up then and there, joined the club, and purchased my flying kit, including all my textbooks! Then my instructor showed me how to enter all the details in my brand new Pilot Log Book. I have a Pilot Log Book. Wow. So I entered in my first 45 minutes of flight time, in a Cessna-150 registered as TMM. Be still my heart.

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