Combien de temps?

What’s next?

In the days after my first flight, I began to think about the next step in my training and possible benchmarks for the future. That right there is exciting enough in itself to write.

While I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, of course, I want to at least brainstorm some potential future accomplishments. Even though I’m 40-something I want to be positive and have the mindset that, like any pilot, training is never really finished.

To know what you do not want can be just as important as what you do want, and there are some certificates and ratings I know I can rule out. First, I can rule out that I don’t want to try to become an airline transport pilot or work as a company pilot. Second, I’m definitely too old for the military. Third, I don’t need the light sport certificate or recreational certificate since I’m working toward my Private Pilot’s License. Finally, I don’t see myself doing a lot of high altitude flying, but for now I will hold short of saying never.

However, there are other ratings and endorsements that I know for certain I want to undertake – tailwheel and seaplane, for example. Both only require a few hours of instruction and here I can focus on my love for antique or vintage aircraft. Further, there are at least a few possible goals that I’d research thoroughly before summarily tossing out as rubbish. Do I need an instrument rating or a commercial or flight instructor certificate? Finally, other goals go hand-in-hand like multi-engine and complex or even high performance.

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You’re in the Air

Post flight, N8866S sits on the tarmac at Greenville Airport. (Photo by Scott Allen)
Post flight, N8866S sits on the tarmac at Greenville Airport. (Photo by Scott Allen)

I flew my first flight in 22 and a-half years on Monday morning, January 19.

I met my instructor, Tammy, at Greenville Airport in Greenville, IL about 8 a.m. We sat down across from each other and discussed the plan for the day. Temperatures were in the 30s on their way to the 50s for a high. The sky was a gorgeous blue without any clouds. A Midwestern winter is very unpredictable at times, you just never know what you’re going to get, but this was a perfect day to fly.

Tammy had reserved the airplane, a Cessna 150 – N8866S, and arranged to have it fueled the night before then placed in the heated hangar to avoid a need to pre-heat the airplane in the morning.

She guided me through the pre-start checklist as we performed the pre-flight inspection together. As we walked around checking the condition of this nearly 50 year old rental plane, I used a checklist created specifically for the aircraft – a good idea for any bird rather than using the basic one located in the owner’s manual.

Next, we lifted the hangar door. The cold January air rushed into the heated hangar. After a check of clearances around the aircraft we pulled the plane out onto the asphalt between the rows of hangars careful to position it with enough space to start and taxi easily.

We both climbed in the plane, closed the doors and opened the windows. Seated side by side, we adjusted our seats and fastened our seat belts. Be assured – this is not an easy process in a two seater. Tammy had to help me with my seatbelt as I wasn’t accustomed to using a five-point harness. Once we were safely fastened in it was time for headsets. We mic checked the levels so we could clearly hear each other. Finally, we were ready to begin the fun part of the lesson.

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Feeling Gravity’s Pull

A page from my pilot logbook.
A page from my pilot logbook.

Over half of my life has elapsed since I last piloted an aircraft.

Any way you read it that is a big statement. First off, how am I that old to begin with?! But, there it is clearly printed in my own handwriting in black and white. The last entry in my pilot logbook is dated June 27, 1992; approximately one month after I graduated from high school. Somehow grown adults thought it was perfectly fine to allow me to pilot an aircraft – on my own no less!

I remember that I was at least a passenger in a general aviation aircraft after my last logbook entry because I know I attended an EAA show in Oshkosh once or twice after that with my dad, but the summer of 1992 must have been the last time I actually flew a plane as part of my training.

Read the scene where gravity is pulling me around
Peel back the mountains peel back the sky
Stomp gravity into the floor
It’s a Man Ray kind of sky
Let me show you what I can do with it
Time and distance are out of place here

“Feeling Gravity’s Pull” – R.E.M.

In December 2014, after a tumultuous couple of years in my personal life, I began to think it was time to set some goals for the future. I felt it was important to start to think about what I wanted to accomplish and therefore give myself more self-confidence and a sense of happiness.

Over the past year, I got into motorcycles for the first time in my life, which was both exhilarating and gave a rush of freedom away from the pressures of everyday life and the constant pull of our electronic devices. Any activity that requires your utmost concentration, while still giving you pleasure, seems somewhat rare in this age of multitasking. These types of pursuits stimulate your brain in body in ways that are hard to measure, but surely give you happiness and a sense of accomplishment. My brain, allowed to rest from everyday stress and focus completely on an activity, awoke my senses to precisely tune into each movement and decisions seemed sharper.

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