My First Flying Lesson

Like many of you, my day-to-day "To Do" list is always chock-a-block. I generally divide my list into a number of different areas including "Client Work", "Business Development", "Technical Development", "Personal" and "Netlink Administration". But in keeping with good GTD practice, there’s another category on that list – one called "Someday".

"Someday" includes all those things I’d like to do… someday! It’s there as a reminder to me of some of the bigger life goals or experiences that can easily get forgotten when you’re focusing on the short-term.

One of the items on that "Someday" list was "Fly an Aeroplane" – and thanks to a generous Christmas present from my family, I took to the Skies for the first time earlier this year!

The location of my first flight was Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport. Just visiting small Airports like Halfpenny Green is an experience in itself! Whilst I was there, all manner of small ‘planes and Helicopters came and went – exciting stuff for a 30-year old kid like me!

The morning began by meeting my Flight Instructor, Bob, who sat me down and explained how the ‘plane we’d be going up in worked. The concept of flight seemed so basic – and yet so complicated all at the same time! The most interesting (or scary, depending on how you look at it) aspect of this theory lesson was the comment from Bob – "well, we’re really not quite sure how flying actually works". What Bob went on to explain was that there are a number of competing scientific theories of how the ‘plane actually gets off the ground – and once I’d got over my shock at this statement, the theory started to make sense.

My first lesson would involve flying in a dual-control Cessna C-152 Aeroplane. Bob gave me a tour of the ‘plane, and it struck me how few electronics were involved in the unit itself (and all the other small ‘planes I viewed whilst at the Airport). Virtually everything was basically mechanical in nature which was very interesting bearing in mind the age of the microchip we live in.

Then it was time to get into the Cockpit and get off the ground. I was expecting the engine to be a lot louder than it was, but holding a normal conversation wasn’t so difficult at all.

The controls of the ‘plane were easy to get used to, but I kept finding myself doing the most odd "car" related habits – such as checking the wing mirrors when changing direction. What was I expecting to find, a Jumbo Jet coming up behind me?!

Once we’d taken off and reached 2500 feet above ground, I must admit that I actually felt a twang of heart-wrenching emotion! It was just so calm and beautiful up there and almost put your existence amongst so many others on the ground into perspective. In an attempt to curb these fluffy emotions <grin> I whipped out my Mobile ‘Phone to answer one of those little questions I’ve always had. Do you get a good signal 2500 feet up. The answer? A resounding yes! It’s a bit of a stretch to go 2500 feet up in a ‘plane just to get a good mobile signal – but there you go.

Whilst in the air a couple of things struck me. The first was that in the hour or so I was in the air, I must have only spotted one or two other planes nearby. A stark contrast from driving a car shared with thousands others on the M6! Bob explained that Commercial Flights generally climb to 30,000 feet – and that things were a little more crowded up at those heights, but down at these levels the sky was usually very clear. The second thought that then occurred to me was – why hasn’t "personal" aviation technology moved on in the same way as say, the Motorcar. Aircraft fuel isn’t much more expensive than Motor fuel, and there are plenty of small airports around. Perhaps I’m not aware of the many other factors involved – or perhaps I just yearn for Star Wars-esque views of the future, with lots of one-man flying cars around! 🙂

We then headed back, and to my surprise Bob asked if I was comfortable landing the plane! Horrific thoughts of Krypton-Factor like crashes (as I’ve experienced a few times in Microsoft Flight Simulator!) came into my head – but with Bob’s help I landed calmly and without problem.

Once on the ground I couldn’t stop smiling! I’d thoroughly enjoyed myself and wanted my next lesson straight away! I’ve a feeling my next flight may spend less time in awe of my surroundings and more time concentrating on learning the controls.

Flying lessons aren’t cheap – generally £100+ per hour – with over 30 hours required before you’re allowed to start thinking about going up on your own. It’s definitely something I want to do more of though, time and funds permitting and I already know a couple of people who are doing semi-regular lessons towards their Private Pilots License.

In the meantime I’ve grabbed the latest copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator to placate my aero-ambitions, and have started accumulating brochures for Hot Air Balloon flights, something else I fancy doing so I can enjoy another taste of life in the air!


3 Responses to “My First Flying Lesson”

  1. 1 zack October 30, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    I like readin about others expercience on their 1st flight, never ever thought about flyin , althoe, like hearin about peoples 1st flight..

  2. 2 zack October 30, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    I hade to shorten my thought , as ,I was sayin , doin alot of therory at home , learnin about standed sea-level, air-speed , density altitdude and all that.. its amazin , puts a smile on face , I could go on. but, gotta study more, tx for sharin ur experc..

  3. 3 Richard October 30, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Zack – as you can tell, I really enjoyed my flight lesson, and hope to do more in the future! Good luck with your own studies!

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