Being a passenger on an airplane of a major airline is one thing. It’s a comfortable, safe, and relaxing ride to your destination. To be a passenger of a small aircraft is a little more different. It’s more cramped, nerves are tested a bit because it’s not as stable due to smaller engines and a smaller craft. However, it’s pretty fun to go to the land and see how an aircraft take off and land from such a close perspective…
Now to fly an aircraft… That requires a lot of fortitude right there…
It was about two and a half years ago when I made a trip down to Southern California to visit some family. One of my uncles was looking to earn his pilot’s license through hours of training and flying. So he figured that I might be interested in coming along for one of his flight exercises. I was a little nervous saying yes to the idea at first, but I had trust in him, so I decide to go.
My uncle and I get into Long Beach Airport and I could see small aircrafts all over the place. I was having butterflies and wondering if this was such a good idea. I had issues with going on roller coaster rides and my inability to actually be able to ride one without feeling sick. Knowing how an aircraft works, I had a feeling it was going to be the same. We met up with the flight instructor and headed over to the hangar and found the aircraft that we were going to use. We had to our with a pre-flight diagnostic of the aircraft to make sure everything was alright.
Landing Gear… Check.
Everything looked pretty good. So it was time to get onto the plane and start flying. But just as I was about ready to board the plane, my uncle jumps into the backseat. I got confused. I ask, “Ummm… aren’t you suppose to be in the pilot’s seat?” He responds, “I’m not the one flying.” I still was confused at what was going on. “So is he flying it then?” I ask, pointing at the instructor. He responded, “Nope.” Then it finally hit me and this sense of fear just goes through my body. I knew those butterflies were not just random… It was simple.
Am I really going to have to fly this bloody thing?
“Get into the seat and strap your seatbelt on,” my uncle said. So I got in. I was in a bit of shock still because I was scared of the thought of flying this aircraft. I don’t know how to fly aircraft. Even with an instructor in the plane, there’s no way I could do it. So I start trying to remember all the things that I could from video games. Apparently, playing flight simulation games paid off for once. I had a general idea of the flight panel and what I needed to do. There was the throttle. There were the pedals to roll the plane. This might not be so bad after all. All I could think at that point was “Thank God I played those flying games”.
We went over the flight procedures and eventually prepared for take-off. I was getting worried. It’s possible that I would do something stupid and crash this plane and we’d all die in a fiery crash. I start thinking in my mind, “Help me God. Help meee…” So we start taxing the plane onto the runway, waited for air traffic control for permission to go and got onto the main runway. “Here we go…” I thought. As we started going down the runway, the instructor is barking through the headsets, “More throttle and pull up!” I start pulling on the wheel and we’re finally off. Wow… We’re not going to die here anyway.
But as we were finally in the air, I was amazed at the sights that I could see. I could see Long Beach underneath me. Santa Ana was just right next to it. The water looked clear and blue. It was an amazing sight. Not to mention that, I was actually flying this plane around the air above it. I just looked through all the windows and I was in complete awe. It was nothing like I expected. As we kept flying, I felt a lot more comfortable flying the craft and the beauty of the city below me (aside from the industrial areas next to the water). It was something I couldn’t have seen through any other view, not even from a large airplane.
Eventually, our time was almost up, so we had to land the plane. As we start heading down, I was having a difficult time trying to land the bloody thing, so the instructor assisted me thankfully. Aircraft always have two wheels for the pilots just in case one of them go awry. And as we landed, I was amazed. We were actually safe. We didn’t die in a fiery crash! Wow…
My uncle took over and practiced some take-offs and landings. I got the chance to see him fly and I was impressed. He had such good composure. While some of his attempts weren’t necessarily the smoothest, they were still pretty darn good. A lot better than mine. That’s for sure.
His time finally ran out and we landed the plane and taxied it into the hangar area. As we got out, I was pretty happy to finally have my feet on hard ground. My uncle wrote out a check to the instructor to pay for the flight, fuel, and other expenses for the flight session. We started walking out to the car and he asked, “You enjoy that?” I just nodded and had a pretty big smile on my face. It was definitely one of the most memorable experiences that I’ve had and one I would definitely suggest to anyone out there. Fly a plane once in your life. See what it’s like to be in the pilot’s seat in a plane. It’s an amazing experience, to say the least.
Just make sure you save up some money though in order to do it…