Flight Lesson #4 Canceled Again or "Fly the Friendly Skies of Manassas"

I talk to myself in the car. Actually, to be more precise I talk WITH myself in the car. They say it’s OK to talk TO yourself, but if you start answering yourself, then well, that’s something different entirely.

Those who know me even casually know that this is completely consistent with my everyday behavior. And while I’ve never been hospitalized for any sort of mental illness, nor has that been recommended, I think it’s safe to say that yeah, I know I’m a friggin’ head case.

Mostly, I talk to the radio. If it’s talk radio, I scream back or agree wholeheartedly. In either case, I’m pretty loud.

One evening some years ago, I was late to my 3-11 pm job at E! Entertainment Television. I pulled into the parking lot – or tried to, and was met with a single car whose driver had pulled up to the gated lot and parked in order to use the ATM machine in our building. Parked. In front of the gate. Not on the street, but pulled up to where you wave your badge at the little box and up goes the gate and you get in.

Needless to say, the driver had no badge, except for the ATM card, which had absolutely no effect whatsoever on the gate.

I was really late, and a little bit frazzled, and I started yelling at the top of my lungs, shouting obscenities and calling into question among other things, the size of her ass and her parentage.

Yes, I had the windows up all the way.

No I didn’t think she’d be able to hear me.

Yes, she did.

When she acknowledged that fact that I was referring to her, I got the one-fingered salute and a few choice words from her. I was overcome by my embarrassment and the overwhelming urge to rear end her car through the gate and proceed to work.

So you can see from this little bit of ancient history that I talk in the car under various circumstances and for various reasons.

Today was one of those days.

I have related before the apprehension with which I have approached the flight lessons I have had to date. But today, all the way home about every third of fourth mile from the airport to my home, I kept shouting to myself “That was fucking AWESOME!”

This was my fifth time up in the air, and the second time that I was unable to proceed to the practice area because of bad weather. Last week, I had to settle for doing take offs and landings around Manassas Airport in what I can describe accurately as one helluva lot of wind. Unlike the last time up, though, today’s winds were calm.

This instructor, Chris, was new to me. Chris is a young instructor pilot who appears at first glance to be too tall for such a small airplane. He had called me when I was on my way to the airport to tell me the practice area was closed, and when I arrived, he filled me in.

I asked if the local weather would permit me to do take offs and landings around the airport as I had the last time I was up, and he agreed, essentially saying that if I wanted to spend the money on a non-lesson, he was happy to show me around the immediate skies around Manassas Airport.

I won’t belabor the point, but the last time I went up in that awfully windy weather, it was a less than positive experience. Apart from the normal overload that is student flying, I felt completely uneasy with even being up there. So by the time I got on the ground, I was pooped, frustrated, and frankly, quite discouraged.

This time was completely different.

All the flight instructors are different. Each has his own style of instruction and his own items he checks. Chris’s style and checklist made sense to me. (Not that the others didn’t, but I believe that he teaches more like I learn.) So it was far more positive, far more productive and virtually terror free.

We did four take offs and landings. On the third landing, I said to Chris “I’m having some trouble here. Would you demonstrate what a landing is SUPPOSED to look like?” He agreed and then landed the plane as if he’s set it down on a 3,400 foot long pillow top bed. Nice and soft.

Next time around, I had the right idea, but didn’t do a whole lot better than I had done before. But at least now, I had an idea of what a good landing was supposed to look like and feel like. That was very helpful.

When we finished the lesson, we went over the lesson and he asked me questions from the academic side of my training, and I knew more of these than I had before, so I didn’t feel quite as uninformed as I had the last couple of times.

Chris was very accommodating and encouraging, and I genuinely enjoyed this lesson far greater the others I have endured. Perhaps I am just getting less inept. Perhaps today’s lesson was just the right lesson at the right time. Regardless, today was fantastic. It’s the first time I can genuinely say that I had fun flying and wanted to go again. Kind of like the roller coaster when the ride ends and you run around to the line again because you just HAVE to go again. Yeah, it was like that.

So today’s lesson summary follows: “That was fun!”

No. Not exactly right.

“It was awesome!”


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