Monday, June 10, 2013

Flying the Symphony--5 mths post op

 Excerpt from my flying blog...Flying 5 mths post op......


                                                             Flying The Symphony

Waco Flying Service's Symphony

So--Lesson #2--Much more eventful than Lesson 1.
So I mustered up all of my strength for my lesson this past Thursday--
Bob and I practiced Flight Simulator at home, where I crashed many, many times.
So I was a bit fearful of getting back in a plane.
Being really fearful made me decide it was the perfect time to actually get back in, before the fear became insurmountable.
So, there I am, Wednesday night--ready.
Flight bag packed, clothes, sunglasses and cap laid out for the early lesson.
Then Aaron texts saying we have to reschedule, a problem with the plane.
This resounds in my head as I calmly look at Bob and say, "What about Friday?"
Within a few minutes, texts are relayed and I'm all set up..
Friday Morning, 0800, I face off with the Symphony.
Last thought before going to bed that night, you guessed it:
"problem with the plane??!"
What I found though, was this extra 24 hours proved to be a blessing, during that time, I relaxed..I went to PT, Neil worked on the muscles in my neck that tend to spasm and add to my motion sick feeling, and I showed up Friday morning feeling really relaxed and ready to face the task at hand.
First, we go into the conference room to do a little ground education.
I learn all about thrust, pitch, lift, drag and the angle of attack.
Now, a great deal of this I've heard many times from my sweet husband.  I also know, and somewhat remember Aaron (whom will be receiving a new name for the purpose of this blog...because Aaron just sounds like a really nice person's name...which he is until someone panics and powers up instead of down and is heading the airplane in the direction of fuel tanks--I'm just saying.-Oh..he needs a Jekyll and Hyde kind of name, because that's kind of the transition he makes...I will ponder this..hmmmm.)- anyway--
I remember Aaron going over this with me on Lesson Day the air molecules split up at the front of the wing and the top air molecule has to go faster to the back of the wing so they can meet up and "hold hands again". I learn what camber is and all about Bernoulli's Principle.
After I was given way more information than I could process, we proceeded out to the ramp to go over the pre-flight checklists. This consisted of me learning the entire anatomy of the airplane.
I was back in A & P I in college, and wishing I had a fill-in-the-blank diagram like we used when learning about the muscular system of the cat.
But no, it's a point and learn..and I may have retained most of it. Pitot tubes, breaks, flaps, various lights, fuel siphons, fuel tanks, kicking the tires and checking the oil.
Then the time came to once again, gather my bravado and climb into the cockpit.  More pre-flight checklists..I do people make mistakes if they go by these very detailed checklists every time?..Perhaps they skip a step or two.
Anyway, I  climb in, don my headset and off we go on another adventure.  Because my instructor doesn't believe in "babying" new pilots...I taxi to the runway. My biggest challenge is eye-hand coordination, getting the feel of the rudders, the brakes and the stick.
With verbal assistance, I lift the airplane in take-off and the next thing I know--we are flying.
I felt much more at ease in the Symphony. I'm not sure if it's the closed cockpit, or the side-by-side seating, or the motion sickness medicine I took beforehand, but whatever it is, today is better than my last time up.
I get into a little trouble with my instructor because he wants me to fly visually, and I keep cheating with the instruments. I used the attitude indicator a lot.
Attitude indicator.
I need to learn to trust myself with eyeballing the horizon and where the my airplane's position is in relation to what I see.  I fully expect to have my gauges totally covered on my next lesson.
We did a maneuver where we flew over the runway, at about 10 feet over the runway...totally freaked me out. Everything felt very close and scary. I panicked a few times.
I was told this is all normal...I guess it depends on what you call normal.
We finally landed and for some unknown reason, Aaron deemed me capable of taxiing in.  I now laugh at his judgement. I had to change from using the stick and the rudders to just the rudders.
For some other unknown reason, he thought it was helpful to keep saying, "that sticks not gonna help you, use the rudders"...OBVIOUSLY..AARON...I CAN'T THINK RIGHT NOW...!!!  BARKING AT ME ISN'T GOING TO HELP!!
 So I swerved and sped up at the wrong times, headed straight for a bunch of fuel tanks, totally missed the parking spot he told me to aim for. 
Now let me say that after the low-over-the-runway-flying thing...I was body, coordination, everything was just DONE. I thought one thing and my body seemed to do the opposite.  However, I managed to comply and finally parked the plane.
My parking spot.
True to form, upon taxiing in, I see Bob out on the ramp with his camera.  He snapped a few photos and  welcomed me back to the real world.
Me, turning off the controls, doing the post flight checklist with Aaron.
Here I am with my tongue hung out, totally whipped.
So, all in all--I finally feel like I could possibly be capable of mastering this. One thing Aaron kept telling me is, "You are in charge. You make the airplane do what you want it to do."
I feel better knowing I'm in the company of many others that struggled with the controls and the panic issue.  I don't think I was altogether wonderful--yet, I don't think I was altogether horrible either.
I left with greater resolve than I showed up with. I know I have a great deal to learn and honestly, many aspects of piloting a plane still scare the hell out of me..but I can see that with this is something I can learn. I just have to be determined, focused and disciplined.
So now, I guess I should learn how to be determined, focused and disciplined.
This is not an activity for the weak-willed or faint of heart.
And in my eyes, it makes my husband even more of a super hero.
To think he has done this as a profession--not just responsible for himself, but for a crew and an airplane full of passengers. Oh to be that confident and certain of my abilities!
Thanks Honey for the inspiration!
Thanks Aaron for the instruction!
Thanks to my lifelong friend (and sometimes foe), Chiari Malformation Type 1--that has pushed me to not accept life with limitations, spurring me on to master my fears and
to live life to the fullest.
"The brave may not live forever - but the cautious do not live at all!"
~ Sir Richard Branson



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