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...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

That Poor Airplane's Shocks...

Early morning is a beautiful time of day to fly.  The air is sharp and clear and smooth. 

However, at 8am after driving an hour to get to my flying lesson, my brain is none of those things.  It's the opposite.  It's dull and fuzzy and...bumpy - absolutely full of nonsense.

I was not impressed with my performance today.  Not in the slightest.  I went from feeling like a rockstar for several weeks in a row to feeling like an utter idiot.  LANDING.  Why does it have to be so bloody difficult?  Honestly, I understand the concept.  It's not hard - nose down, come in at 70kts, keep the center line, come into cruise attitude and pull the nose up gently as you see the runway start to sink ahead of you.  Yeah.  That's the idea.  I can do it.  In my head.

At this point I have to stop.  I might be being a little unfair to myself I suppose.  I can land an airplane.  I can do it - I've done it about a dozen times now, "safely".  That's the word My Instructor keeps using.  "Safe".  It's a good word, it implies that I'm not likely to corkscrew my aircraft into the ground, which I look upon as being somewhat successful.  I can do a safe landing.

But I am a perfectionist.  I despise not being good at something I am trying to learn.  So all this touch and go, touch and go, touch and go stuff, while very enjoyable, is beyond frustrating if I am not getting things done as well as I should like.  I did notice a sliiiiight improvement.  There were two landings mixed in with the crap that weren't all that bad.  But for the first time EVER I landed feeling fairly fed up. 

We had been working on the South Field, on runway 25, so I was in the circuit with all the Air Canada Jazz and the West Jet and the Porter on the big runway.  It was my first time on 25, and so I had some difficulty judging when to turn to my base and my final approach and such, and that just added to my frustration.  At one point during the lesson I even considered asking if we could call it a day. I bit my tongue on the request though.  No giving up.  Giving up is not allowed here.  I knew I just needed to power on and not be weak.  The only way I'm going to get better is if I practice, and practicing doesn't happen if you give up half way through a lesson.  I hate that I even considered it.

We did go back to runway 22 after that, which made me a little more comfortable - I'm much more used to that runway.  I tried a couple more landings, and My Instructor demonstrated an engine failure in the circuit, which I am supposed to start practicing next lesson.

My favourite moment of the day came while I was lining up on runway 25 ahead of Jazz or someone.  I heard them talking to the Tower, and the tower responded.
'You are number two, just behind a C-150.  He's lining up to land on runway 25.  Just slow down and give him about 30kts to clear.'

He.  Him.
Oh man!  Did I switch gender again and forget?!  Oh wait.  Nope, still a girl.  Still got boobs.  Still don't even sound remotely like a man on the radio.  Come on buddy!

By the time I got home I was officially Captain Crankypants, and packed myself off to bed for a nap to rectify the situation.  It didn't work.  Positivity has left the building, ladies and gentlemen.  But don't worry, it will be back.  I understand that landing is probably one of the hardest things to learn, and obviously it's the most important.  I understand that every pilot (except for those lucky, talented sods that I don't even want to think about right now) goes through this frustration, and that it really isn't something you can learn how to do perfectly in just a few lessons.  But I want to be there.  I have this overwhelming impatience in me when it comes to flying.  I want to learn how to do everything all at once and be good at it.

If the saying is that you have to learn to walk before you run, how could we apply that to flying?  Maybe you just need to learn how to be safe before you can be graceful.


  1. Landing is just one of those things that seems hard for a while, then all of a sudden something clicks and you wonder what you were worried about.

    Just think back to how hard you found flying straight and level initiaily. Now you probably barely thing about it.

    Best of luck!


  2. To be completely honest, Landings are my 2nd favorite part about flying. Takeoff is number one. But the best way to get better at landing is to go out and pound them out one after another. The key is to not get into a routine and do them all exactly the same. Change this, change that, the only way I was able to get them figured out to any extent is to understand the plane I was flying. When you can make a good guess at what the plane is going to do next, you can expect it and correct for it as soon or before it happens!