I know getting an “in progress” tick for spending a couple of hours with Flight Instructor Dan, is akin to a participation award at school but I’m unashamed to say that just like my pink rosette for turning up to sports day at the age of 10 and walking sulkily down the track I am proud to get my first tick.
The weather today was so horrible, so blustery and cold that there was no way we were getting into the air so instead, some essential ground school time on “checklists”. I don’t think I fully appreciated how many check-lists there are to go through before you can even sit down in an aircraft, you don’t just “jump in and go” as you see people do in the movies. Its YOUR responsibility to check safety, make sure everything is bolted on, that all of the equipment is working…
Before you squeeze for the first time into the cockpit, clamber over the passenger seat into the left, pilots position (why there is only ONE door on a Piper Warrior P28 is beyond me) everything on the outside of the aircraft has to be checked for safety and airworthiness. Flaps, are they unblocked? Aerilons, do they move? are the tyres sound, have they slipped on the rim? Dip the fuel tanks, yes, you do have a fuel gauge but in aviation its check, check, check and if you’re unsure check again! Check the fuel for contaminants, check that there is no damage to the wings, fuselage and other surfaces, check that there is enough oil, that the Pitot heater is working, that the elevator moves freely, that the antenna are undamaged… that the leading edges are sound, that the propeller has no dinks, the lists literally go on… for 20 odd pages.
I thought I would find this kind of thing a tedious bore, a fence in the way of the fun bits, but actually, sat here thinking over the day of not flying, I really enjoyed it… so what it was just a checklist and some poking, prodding wiggling and double checking things on, in and around the aircraft but I got my hands dirty. For the first time I got to touch the machine, I got to know it a little bit more intimately, I learned a bit about how it feels to be almost in command of the bird.
So yes, its an “in progress” tick but that’s the point. Progress. I am making progress, slowly and surely I learn more every day… I would like to add something to the checklist… “Are you smiling?” Yes. YES I AM.