Becoming a pilot opens up a whole new world of possibilities that you may never knew existed. Returning home to Pensacola for my first visit since 2009 held a special excitement for me. Not only is it the Navy’s 100th Anniversary, the Blue Angels are flying this weekend and I was determined to book a flight to fly over the beaches if I could find a place that would take a student pilot up.
Change is inevitable. It can come suddenly and unexpectedly. It can gnaw at you for weeks or months and just be an uncomfortable feeling where you just know that you need to make a change. It’s not something most of us enjoy or even like to go through normally. Making a change isn’t ever easy and you might not be certain it’s the right thing to do, but if it lingers long enough and makes you uncomfortable enough, then the right push can move you in the direction you really need to go.
Flying is a breath of fresh air in my week. A time to get away from it all and think about nothing else, because when you’re learning to fly, that’s all you can do is focus on the task at hand if you want to learn to do it right. There are days when the weight of the world feels like it’s on my shoulders. So much to get done at work and at home that sometimes I feel like there’s no room for anything else in my life, but when I’m scheduled to fly something inside of me burns and aches to get to the airport. I still long to be at it. There’s no dread in going, there’s excitement and anticipation of the adventure that awaits me every time I get in the air.
“I’m flying a plane all by myself!” I say out loud to the empty seat beside me and smile. I radio my position, “Wilgrove traffic, this is Cherokee six seven niner two Juliet turning downwind for runway three five, Wilgrove.” I glance to my right and to my left to check for traffic and begin my turn. I can see the runway between the trees below and to my left. I check my altimeter and I’m almost to pattern altitude. I pull back my power to drop my rpms to 2300, lower my nose to stop climbing and level out, adjust my trim, check my heading indicator to make sure I’m not drifting, and I take a deep breath.
The P51D Mustang, “Angels Playmate” is the center piece of the air show today and it’s absolutely stunning. It’s a replica of Colonel Bruce Carr’s P51. You can read about the history of him and his Mustang here… http://www.rb-29.net/html/50FtrPltStory/FtrPltStory/50.01.00.htm and more about the history of “Angels Playmate” here http://www.warbirdregistry.org/p51registry/p51-4463810.html . Watching it fly with the other Warbirds today was like taking a walk back in time to see and hear what it would have been like with a B-17, a B-25 and the P51D moving ominously through the air towards you.
I needed a break from flying lessons and wanted to go up and just fly for the fun of it again. Sometimes flight instruction gets to be a lot like work and awfully stressful. So I asked for a chance to just go fly again, get away and remember what I fell in love with about flying. I was beginning to go stir crazy practicing the pattern. I call it “Nascar Flying” because all you’re doing is left hand turns around the airport and landing.
I was invited by my instructor to ride along on a night flight so that I could experience what it looks like landing at night. He was doing a sign off for another pilot.
My first evening flight is scheduled for 7:30pm. An afternoon thunderstorm rolled through about 5:30 and moved on to the East leaving behind cooler temperatures and clear, smooth skies. I was eager to get to the airport and get back in the air; it’s the one thing that calls to me, beckoning for my return. I can never get back there fast enough!
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.