After working as a rig geologist in the North Sea, I developed a real fear of flying. I really didn’t enjoy the helicopter rides and even fixed-wing aircraft rides scared me. If I knew I had to fly then I would worry for days before the flight. It was OK when I was working in the UK as flying wasn’t something that I did too frequently but when I moved to the USA, flying suddenly took on a whole new level of importance. Flying was viewed like taking a bus there.
I knew something had to be done but what? As it turned out, there was an annual air show at Addison airport in Dallas. We decided it might be fun to go and we took our son. It was there that I saw the flight school and signed up for a free introductory flight.
That first flight took place in a Cassna 152 and actually, I enjoyed it. I decided that I should take lessons but in the larger Cessna 172 for comfort. There were two major milestones for me in learning to fly. The first was tight turns. This is where you actually turn very tightly and so you look out of the window at the ground as you bank steeply. I simply couldn’t do it. It took me several lessons before I finally summed up the courage to do it. When I finally did, I enjoyed it!
The next challenge was flying solo. I clearly recall practicing landings at an airfield nearby Dallas. You touched the wheels down and then accelerated and took off again flying the pattern over and over again. The moment when my instructor said “OK – pull up over there and then got out and said do a few on your own,” was one of total fear. I knew I had to go through with it and so I gulped and off I went. That first landing I made was the best I ever did. I was flying solo!
I sat my FAA exam and passed it easily. It was a lot of fun learning about aerodynamics, navigation and so on. I now understood the noises I would hear on commercial jets too. I flew my solo flights and, when my Dad visited, I took him on a trip too. I had learned to fly and I enjoyed it immensely. I was a private pilot with a license and a log book.
Unfortunately, when we moved back to the UK, I found that an hour in a small airplane was simply too expensive and that I would have to fly some hours and take a check ride for CAA qualification. I simply couldn’t afford it and by the time we moved back to the US, I had lost the bug anyway.
However, I can fly a plane. Now thats something isn’t it?