Learning to Fly — (Finally) Going For It

By January 20, 2015Aviation

[Note: This was written in September 2014, just prior to my first flying lesson]

I have decided that I am going to learn to fly.

I have been fascinated with the thought of flying for as long as I can remember. As a child, one of my Dad’s friends had a plane and we went for a flight where he let me take the controls. I have always looked forward to the opportunity to fly in small airplanes when they have come up. I used to love following United Airlines “Channel 9” cockpit communications back when it was available. And I have long been an internet voyeur of aviation trying to exhaust YouTube (note to self: not possible) and reading pretty much whatever I could find on Avweb.com and the like even though I only had a partial understanding of it as a non-pilot.

Last year, Timberly bought me an introductory flight with a local charter operation in Squamish. It was an incredibly beautiful flight on a crisp December day, and we cruised around North of Squamish with clear views of Mt. Baker to the South and Vancouver Island to the West. I was able to take the controls, do some turns, check out crevasses in the mountains below, and generally cruise around. My pilot for the day, Carlos, explained to me some of the basics of mountain flying and reading terrain, and we experienced some light and moderate turbulence as we cruised around the leeward side of some mountains.

And then — bang! — we experienced a sudden downward movement that put my head into the roof along with the loose contents of the airplane. I’m not too proud to acknowledge that it gave me a pretty good fright. Carlos told me that it was enough of a disturbance to be classified as “severe turbulence”. We kept flying and Carlos took us in for the landing. He remarked that he would have been “worried if you weren’t a little freaked out by that”. I’m glad I passed that test. I left with an odd mixture of exhilaration and trepidation. Do I really want to do this? Because those couple of seconds were genuinely unpleasant. I was planning on doing this for fun —  aren’t hobbies are supposed to be enjoyable!

Well, a great spring and summer of 2014 passed by but flying has continued to be on my brain. A lot. I cannot explain what has been attracting me all these years but I have decided that it’s now-or-never to get started. I figure I will either love it for the rest of my life or I will have some sense beaten into me.

If Warren Miller ski movies have taught me one thing, it’s that if you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do. So here we go….