Summary of Lessons: May-July

1st_lesson_collage1st Lesson-Saturday, May 7

I had my first flying lesson and it was really exciting to do something I have been wanting to do for so long! Ryan (my husband) went to my first lesson with me, as starting lessons was my birthday present. I learned how to preflight and use a checklist to make sure you’re not missing anything. One of the many items on the checklist is checking the fuel in each wing. “Never trust a fuel gauge unless it’s on empty.” Apparently, fuel gauges on aircraft can’t be trusted, so you always check it yourself.

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Before taxiing out Mr. King made sure I knew what the instruments were and explained what we were going to do. We flew straight and level, did some turns, and Mr. King demonstrated stalls.  It was a beautiful day. Since I hadn’t been in a tiny general aviation aircraft since I was 20 something and went on a free demonstration flight with the EAA Young Eagles to write a newspaper article about them, it was great to see it was as fun was a I remembered. If you’ve never been in a small plane like the Cessna 172, it is nothing like being in an airliner. You’re more aware of how amazing flying is in a little plane and you feel closer to the clouds. I first flew in a small plane like that when I was 14 on a Young Eagles flight. I enjoyed getting to fly the plane myself more than the couple of minutes they let you do so on a Young Eagles flight. Mr. King said, “Well you can think about it and let me know if you want to get started.” Ryan said, “She had already decided before she got here today” and he was right. The 45 minute flight confirmed what I’d always known I wanted to do.


(Being excited about taking lessons didn’t mean I wasn’t a bit nervous!) Ryan took this picture of my death grip reflected in the window. You should have seen him wedged back there in the back seat!


Lessons 2-6, May 14-July 16


My second lesson I got my logbook. The picture above is Mr. Ken King writing in my first two lessons. I don’t know why this was so exciting. I guess it made me feel more official. 🙂 We did mostly the same thing as the first lesson.

My fourth and fifth lessons I did some instrument flying with the foggles. Foggles are glasses that are frosted at the top so you can’t see outside of the plane and are looking at only the instruments to determine if you’re flying straight and level and making coordinated turns or unintentionally climbing/descending/slowing down/speeding up. It isn’t my favorite thing to do, but I get WHY I have to do it. To get your private pilot’s license you have to do 3 hours of instrument training. After you get your private pilot’s license and have accumulated enough hours, you can move on to getting an instrument rating, which is something I would ultimately like to do so I will be a better pilot.

I also did climbs, descents, turns, power off stalls, and maintaining constant airspeed each of these lessons.


Lesson 6 happened to be the day of the monthly fly-in. Lots of very cool planes there and the Young Eagles who flew seemed to enjoy themselves. Young Eagles is a program of the EAA that lets kids ages 9-17 fly free.



You want to learn to fly? WHY?!

You want to learn to fly? WHY?!

You get two main reactions when you tell people you are learning to fly. My least favorite: “Why? Isn’t that expensive?” My favorite; “That’s cool. So tell me . . .”

It might seem an odd time in my life to learn how to fly, or maybe even wasteful/pointless to a lot of people. I’m a 36 year old mom and teacher with a two year old.

But, I’ve wanted to fly since I was 9 years old and saw a lot of grounded aircraft at a tiny airfield with low ceilings and marginal weather. I didn’t see any of them fly until we were boarding the school bus back to 4th grade, but it was magical. They were magical, there on that country airfield. p-51s, A Connie (little did I know how rare that was), a Stearman, and others whose names I would (and wouldn’t) learn, later. I learned about these planes the old-fashioned way, in the pre-internet world of checking out books from the library, and looking in our leather-bound World Books, 1987 edition. I watched Desert Storm unfold a few years later, and learned the names of those planes, too. I sent away for a die-cast Red Baron Stearman from Red Baron pizza boxes and it sat proudly on my bookshelf. My other prized possessions were my dad’s wings from his ROTC solo and his study materials, which 11 year old me actually read.

My aviation experiences were few and far between, unfortunately. I tagged along to a workshop for school teachers about integrating aviation in the classroom with my mom (a second grade teacher who went so I could go) at Columbus Air Force Base and watched T-38s do touch and gos, climbed on one and carefully peered in, peeked into a simulator, watched Pink Floyd’s Learning to Fly video, and visited their meteorology section. The most impressive thing to me there? One of the pilots was a woman! Fast forward to my first flight at Pryor Air Field in Decatur, Alabama at the age of 14. I finally got to fly in an airplane, and it was fabulous! I don’t remember that guy’s name or much about the plane itself, but I remember being allowed to fly it for a few minutes. I didn’t fly again until a trip to Spain in college. I think I’m the only person on those Continental and Iberia Air flights that excited about being in an airplane.

I never stopped wanting to fly. I went to a few airshows and toyed with the idea. I was teaching high school and 7 months pregnant when I went to a Girls in Aviation event, talked to a few people, and it suddenly seemed possible. I began to read aPregoAtFlyIn.pngnd study a little. Then for my birthday, almost two years later, my husband surprised me with “You should go for it.” So, I practice and think through maneuvers with my son’s wooden airplane, and he and I fly the pattern around our coffee table. The pilot of his toy airliner isn’t the man in the captain uniform, but the lady in the pink and red dress. I love to hear him say, “Mama FLY.”

The best time? Maybe not, but when is it the ideal time to do anything?