Tonight I remembered why I fell in love with flying. The skies were beautiful with the sun setting on the horizon, breathtakingly peaceful. I’m controlling an airplane at 3,000’ and below, practicing maneuvers I haven’t done in ages. It feels good again. I’m remembering and performing each task asked of me. I look around at the beautiful terrain beneath me and smile. I’m back indeed!
My second flight back after being grounded for two years is still an assessment of my skills as we ran out of daylight last time. I start with practicing S-turns over a road. I have a fairly strong wind today to work in. Once I finish S-Turns, we pick a spot for practicing turns on a point. I started out a bit off but as I continued to work through it, I finished doing a good job of maintaining my distance and keeping my altitude.
After regaining some altitude, my instructor reaches over and pulls power. “What are you going to do?” He asks.
“Pitch for best glide and find a field.” I check my nose to get my speed and begin looking around. Wow, the fields in this neck of the woods are all very hilly. I look at one with two trees and decide that I’d rather have one with no trees if it’s possible. Just to my right, there is a field near a road that looks pretty flat that I’m certain we can make. I begin going through the checklist, and after, line up to prepare for an emergency landing. Once my instructor believes I can make the field, he says to give it full power and lets climb back up to 3,000’.
He pulled out goggles and asked if I remembered them. I’ve never gone under the hood before, but I knew what it was. He was surprised I’d never used them before now. I put them on and couldn’t see anything but my instruments. That’s cool, I thought. He gives me directions and I follow, checking each of my instruments for maintaining my speed, altitude and my inclinometer as I turn to the headings he calls out.
I did 4 landings tonight, 1 was another emergency landing with no power and I was excited that I did well. What an incredible evening of flying! It felt fun again. My first flight back was great, but I was nervous about remembering everything. I focused more on the process and technical side than just enjoying the flight. Today, I felt more confident and comfortable behind the controls again, and I think it showed.
The next to last landing, I looked down runway 23 the sun was just at the horizon and a crescent moon was just to my right with Mars shining brightly just above it. It was so beautiful. I wanted to grab my camera and take a picture, but in the middle of training and both of us focused on the task at hand, I didn’t asked my instructor. It’s etched in my memory as one of the more beautiful evening landings I’ve experienced.
I walked out of the airport today believing that I will be a pilot after all, and that’s an amazing feeling.