June 2010Two years ago today, June 4, my CFI, then a stranger, got into the left seat of a Cessna 172 and had me sit in the right seat. Then he taxied the plane out and took off, headed for what I was to learn is the practice area. There he demonstrated how the plane really wants to fly, how it won't go crashing to the ground if you let go of the controls. Then he made me take the controls and steer the plane and go up and down a bit and see what the plane does. In that process I discovered the turbulence that terrified me when my husband flew was not so scary when I had my hands on the yolk. For some reason, with my hands on the yolk I could feel the winds pressures against the plane and the little bumps of turbulence no longer seemed like random jolts with no reason. Two flights later, I completed the Pinch Hitter training. I was "trained" enough that I could successfully crash land a plane near an airport in case my husband became incapacitated and walk away. I was completely and utterly hooked. I had to get my pilot's license!
June 2011A year after that, June 4 2011. I was between my first and second solo cross country flights. My first solo cross country was scrubbed a couple times due to some late season storms. Bad weather delayed my long solo cross country. I was absolutely thrilled at my accomplishment in my first cross country solo and even more in love with flying. I wrote about that at length here and here. I spent more time writing about my cross country than flying it!
June 2012Fast forward to this year. Today I was scheduled for an IFR training session. I didn't fly because of another late season storm. We didn't switch to using the simulator because my CFI said I'm too good on the simulator, I need to be in a real airplane to be challenged. If someone had told me on June 1, 2010 that two years from then I would be not only a pilot but working on an instrument rating, I would have laughed in their face. The same way I laughed at my husband when he said I would like this "flying thing".
From There to HereI got my license almost 7 months ago. It took more work, struggle, challenge and fun than I could have ever expected. I have learned more about myself and my strengths and weaknesses than I ever wanted. It was an experience of ups and downs, but every down has had an up. I've flown around 65 hours since then. I'm happy to report, so far, I have kept the take off and landing count equal :) I've flown 16 hours in simulators as part of my instrument training. I've flown almost 50 hours cross country as PIC, taken friends and family for rides. I've visited friends, had a 800 chicken taco, purchased pie and returned pie tins. I've experienced moderate and severe turbulence as PIC and not panicked. I've forgotten and relearned how [not] to land and developed my own habits for flying. I've talked with ATC over 5 different states. I'm able to fly when and where I want - governed only by my own capabilities, my plane's performance, the weather and some FARs. I've been able to cheer on new friends as they pursued their pilots licenses.
JoyJoy is now a word that has meaning in my vocabulary. I still can't explain it.. but that's the word that best describes what flying is to me. I've been able to share that joy with my friends by flying with them over the Golden Gate Bridge, and touring the reservoirs of Northern California and flying 200 miles to visit over lunch. I have seen and learned many, many things. And I can't wait to see and learn more. My dearest wish is that I continue to fly, to see, experience and learn and share the realm of the birds with those who dare to experience it and inspire those who are afraid like I was.
Thanks to that Pinch Hitter flight two years ago, I have found joy. I have come very far between then and now. The journey is far from over. I am looking forward to my next walk out onto that ramp with flight bag, headset, and cushion in hand. Out to pre-flight the plane and start my next adventure.