Have you every dreamed of flying? No, not an out of body experience. I’m talking about flying an airplane, sitting in a cockpit, engine screaming, barreling down a runway, pulling back on the control and getting that bad boy in the air! I spent my whole life looking up at the sky. Every time I heard an engine humming, I would hope that one day I would do just that, fly a plane.
Googling was just the first step. I did some research to look over flying options and found out that I could go up and try it out for under $100. I thought about it for a couple of days and called my husband from work to see if he was opposed to the idea. There was a long pause on the phone and I finally got an “If that’s what you want to do.” So I filled out the form on line immediately and submitted it. The thought of flying had me filled with anticipation.
A sunny day in May 2014 and just 10 minutes from my house, I decided I would take a “Discovery Flight” in a single engine plane for the first time. I was beaming with excitement and a little bit of nervousness mixed in as well.
I drove the few minutes that it took to get there and pulled up to Goose Creek Airport. It’s a small little airport out in the country. I stopped for a moment and looked around, got my iPhone out and snapped a couple of pictures to document my adventure. I drove on down, parked and sat for a moment assessing my surroundings. A few different types of planes were sitting there, Cessna’s and Piper’s. Being an Air Force Veteran, I have always had a fascination with planes and know a little bit about different kinds. It was exciting to just take it all in. With a deep breath, I got out and headed for what appeared to be the office and went inside. I found the pilot sitting there waiting for me and we made introductions. He took me back to a conference room and we started going over some things about flying and what I could expect if I decided to take lessons. All I was expecting the first time up was to sit in a plane and go up with a pilot. What happened next took me completely by surprise.
We went out to the plane and the pilot started explaining to me how you pre-flight one. This was a Cessna 172. We walked around the plane checking out the wings, the movement of the ailerons and the flaps. We checked the fuselage, the rudder, the elevator and continued around the plane carefully checking for any issues.
I ran my hand across each section, touching it like it was alive. It was beautiful. There was something powerful in the feel of running my fingers across its body. I had never been this close to a small plane and this seemed so intimate and exciting. The idea of making sure everything was operating properly prior to taking it in the air was satisfying and comforting.
We checked the engine and the oil. It was time to jump inside and buckle up. He handed me the pre-flight checklist and had me go through each line and pointed out where everything was that had to be checked and operating correctly prior to flying. We checked the instruments, got our headsets on and I got to start the engine. What a feeling! All that power in front of me, the roar of the engine, the movement as we started toward the runway was amazing. I got to maneuver it down the runway. I was surprised that I was able to keep it in the center of the runway all the way down. We stopped and did some more checks and then it was time for take-off. He took over and as we powered down the runway I could feel the nose start to lift and in a moment we were airborne!
It was the most amazing feeling; I could see everything around us getting smaller. I looked over the fields and the roads that I go past almost every day. Everything looked so beautiful from the sky. The crops were growing in neat even rows on the farms. It was laid out like a painted canvas. It was like looking at everything with fresh eyes.
Once we were up about 1500 feet he turned the controls over to me. I had no idea I would actually get to fly the plane. He talked me through climbing it, leveling off and he had me perform some turns. It felt like I had been doing this my whole life. I was controlling the airplane, banking gently but firmly to the right and straightening out, banking again to the left and straightening out. I climbed to 3000 feet and was looking all around checking out the fields underneath me and marveling at how wonderful it felt being up where only clouds hover and birds soar. I was checking out some of the instruments and getting an idea of what each one was telling me.
I never dreamed I’d actually be flying a plane let alone at 50! I kept thinking that I should be nervous but I never felt anxious or scared. The only thing I felt was excitement and amazement at how incredible it was to be handling a plane in the air. It was over before I knew it and we headed back to the airport. The pilot took over and landed us. I got a few pictures in the plane to share later and confirm that I actually was up in a plane and did in fact fly a single engine Cessna. I was walking on clouds when I left the airport that day! I never dreamed that I would want to get my private pilot license but after that flight, I knew I had to pursue it. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced and the most comfortable feeling I’ve ever known. I had no idea what to expect this day but when I left, my whole world had changed forever.
There are planes over my house all day long. Every time I hear one, I look up and think, how could I not hear the hum of the engine and look up at the sky and not long to be among the clouds. I believe I was born to fly. Why now, at 50? Because this is exactly when I’m supposed to learn and apparently it couldn’t have happened at any other time.