I’ve always liked the idea of being in control of a flight; one of those free birds that learns how to fly all on your on. I would chart my course before a trip and wing off to any location in a Cessna plane. New York? Yup. Los Angeles? I’m your girl. Australia? Just ring me.
Ok, you can’t go that far in a Cessna. But hey, it’s my dream.
The only reason why I know as much as I do about flying is because of my husband. He practices on a flight simulator at home, but more importantly, has flown a plane and logged numerous hours towards a pilot’s license. I, on the other hand, just continue to dream about such things.
I did take one flight a few years ago (I believe it was called an intro flight) where I got to take the controls for a short time on a small plane. My husband sat in the backseat, and with the instructor seated beside me, we flew over Ottawa on a clear evening night. The small dots of lights were the only means to light our way. It was dazzling.
But once I had the controls clenched tightly between my fingers, my face turned red, and I started to sweat like a person with the flu, the only thing I could think of was going down in a fireball. I believe I lasted all of 10 minutes before returning the controls to the instructor.
After that day, I never went back.
This past weekend, we travelled to Atlanta, Georgia to try out a Level D 737-200 training flight simulator at the Delta Flight Museum. This would be my first time in a flight simulator, and in truth, I’ve never even played on one at home but my hubby wanted me to be his co-pilot. How could I refuse? I expected to simply sit beside him and towel off sweat from his brow. Imagine my horror when a few days before we were scheduled to fly out to Atlanta, my hubby turned to me and said, “Oh, before we go I want to show you a few things.”
My instant reaction was, What? I thought I was just going to sit there? Nonetheless, it was a busy week and the day we finally went over what I was required to do in terms of sitting in the co-pilot chair – turned out to be Friday night. I cupped a glass of red wine in my hands, as he reviewed that on take off I needed to call out certain speeds starting at 80 knots up to 120 knots. Apparently, there’s a speed at which you can abort a flight. Before the speed of 80 knots you can abort for minor things.
Once you reach V1 (V1 is dependent on the weight of the plane etc, but for our purposes it was around 120 knots) you can abort for major things. Over V1, you must take off. (Fire in the engine or not.)
I’m sure there were other things that he told me, but as I drank my Cabernet Sauvignon I wondered what exactly I had gotten myself into. I know flight simulators are expensive pieces of equipment. I was worried that this would be my one and only time I would be allowed to play at the museum. I envisioned being banned for life as the single kid who broke the toy.
The day of or flight simulator experience, I was nervous and kept trying to go over things with hubby. Questions I asked over and over again were: What speed do I count at? Why am I doing this? Flaps? What? My husband reassured me that there was a pause button that the instructor could hit and stop the simulation if things were not going well. I nodded my head and tried to calm down. But I did not believe him.
When we were in the simulator on that day I required a great deal of instruction and it kind of went like this with the instructor in the back saying: flaps up! gear down! no gear up!
From my side occasionally I would start doing things correctly with the: 80, 90, 100, …oopps..130! (as it past 145!) At some point I was to say rotate. Even after, on this day, I still have no idea when that was to be.
Should flying be my career?
I think not. There are pilots that can point out landmarks at night using only lights. They can point in the direction of the Empire State Building, will know where the Ottawa River is, and will not misjudge the suburban community of Barrhaven for downtown Ottawa. I can not read a road map to save my life, and can barely follow a GPS correctly during the day whether with signs, or with Tim Horton’s on a corner. As well, being a pilot requires mathematical skills of adding and subtracting numbers when calculating the heading that I can’t do, and certainly can’t do under pressure. (I believe heading, is direction.)
The instructor we had provided MUCH NEEDED guidance to me and was ever helpful and it was much appreciated. My husband on the other hand, required very little. We attempted to land with crosswinds, and flew in with a single engine and despite all the alarms that went off (yeah, it’s pretty noisy in a cockpit when things aren’t going well) I would have preferred to throw my hands up in a panic. Mu husband stayed calm and attempted to land the plane as best he can, despite his lack of co-pilot.
After we were we took a look around the rest of the museum and checked out the 747 that they just recently opened for the public. We finished the day with dinner and drinks at the bar in our hotel. When dinner was nearly over, my husband noticed a pool table at the back of the bar and asked, “Do you want to play pool after?”
“Yeah!” I answered. It’s only been 10 years. Why not? (I love pool!)
Hubby proceeded to kick my butt at playing pool too. (Because I suck.)
- Many thanks to hubby for reviewing this entry. I had put 80 miles/hour. Apparently it’s 80 knots. My bad.
- No pictures of us playing pool. I forgot to take some. My bad.
- If there are any errors in How to Fly 101, it’s all on me. (Because I didn’t get hubby to review this full blog post.)