Since I began my flying lessons, at the end of last year, I have had precisely 9 hours and 10 minutes “in control” in the air… I know this because by log book says so. This equates to about 9 separate flights, thats 9 take offs (3 of which I have done) and 9 landings. (I would be concerned had there been less landings) Every landing, up until today I have either “set up” or “followed control”.
Picture this. The wind is 17kts at 60 degrees to the runway. Im setting the aircraft up for landing. 2 stages of flaps are in, the plane has “weathercocked” into the wind and we’re approaching runway 24 almost sideways… I’m controlling the aircraft, guiding it down with pitch and power, keeping the runway numbers in the same position in my field of view… all the time knowing that at any point soon, I mean like really soon, because the runway is getting closer, like REALLY FREAKING CLOSE, my flight instructor Charlotte is going to utter those comforting words “I have control” shes going to say it… I’m sure she is going to say it… the air speed is 65kts, we’re careering towards the ground, its only feet away, my heart is racing, my breathing is fast… why isn’t she taking control? Then, I realise that I am actually doing the landing. ME! I’m landing a bloody aeroplane! Rather than panic me by telling me I was going to do all the work, she has let me try my skills, all the while being there to gently correct my mistakes and allow me just enough leighway to cock it up and learn as I do so, without planting the little PA28 into the control tower.
I keep saying that my instructors have more faith in my skills than I do and it’s true. A good teacher knows when to let the student spread their wings and try it for themselves, they know when to give that extra little push and encouragement while you feel you’re bumbling about like an owlet. If you have ever thought about flying and re-thought that you couldn’t do it, you’re wrong. Anyone can fly an aircraft. Anyone is capable of learning the skills required to become a pilot. When I started out on this journey, which is, according to my log-book less than 10 hours ago I was worried about the amount of work there was to do. I was concerned I would never gain the skills to become a pilot… now though, having some more experience beneath me I can actually see my way through.
Flying the aircraft is not scary, it’s thrilling and I love it… what really worries me is what’s waiting on the ground. What plays on my mind the most, lurks in the darkest corners of the GoFly training rooms, the beast I am yet to tame is a looming lesson. Learning Navigation.