Wednesday, December 31, 2008

From Fear to Fascination

Hello Everyone,

This is my first posting to my Blog. I am really excited to post my thoughts as well as the stories and adventures of the many pilots that I know. I have been reading alot of aviator Blogs lately and some are really fantastic! I particularly enjoyed reading "Chopper Chick's Blog" as well as "Felix on a Mission's Blog". I only hope that mine holds a candle to theirs.

How I got Started Flying

Complete and utter Fear!! That about sums it all up. My father absolutely loved to fly, didn't have a pilot's license, but loved it anyway. He always was telling Mom about the plane that he was going to build in the garage and fly all over the country...together. Well....we all know how well that one turned out. More on that in a later Blog. But when I had aged into my thirties, and had matured enough to start my middle-aged crazies, I decided to take-on flying head on, Fear Will Not Conquer Me!.

A friend of mine owned a Luscombe 8A that was completely gorgeous....and small. So I started taking lessons. The first three lessons went really....well...ok. They lasted about 15 minutes each, and ended with me jumping out of the plane on the grass runway, as the plane was still rolling to a stop, and heaving all over the grass. Attractive right? Not exactly the stud pilot I always envisioned I'd be. Thank God my instructor had a sense of humor. He would say, "Well, that was nice, the grass needed alittle fertilizer anyway!" .

After about 2 weeks, I finally was over the initial fear and was now to the point in my flying where one must land. They always say, "Take-off's are voluntary, Landings are mandatory". Well, my instructor did his best to tell me that the brakes are on the heels, not on the toes of this plane. He kept telling my this over and over ad-nausium, till I finally asked him if he thought that I couldn't remember this simple fact requiring him to tell me six thousand times! The reason then became apparent. The brakes were only on my side, not his. And this plane was his Baby!

The First Landing

My instructor showed me about 15 times how to land the Luscombe. He made it look so easy, that even a small child could do it. We practiced keeping the plane straight on the ground as we taxiied down the runway. In fact, we practiced that more than we did the actual approach. I didn't really understand why all the fuss about keeping it straight on the runway, after all, it wasn't going to go any other direction...right?

My approach was perfect, speeds...right on. My instructor was completely amazed at how well I was doing. We touched down...well...we'll just call it like grease for lack of a better description. Then a small gust of wind slightly moved the down draping windsock, and the plane darted to the right. I mashed on the toe brakes.....WHERE ARE THE TOE BRAKES!!! All I heard was, "HEELS, HEELS, THE BRAKES ARE ON THE HEELS!!" We went veering off the runway, ran over the tire runway markers and came to a screeching halt just before we were to run through the cow fense. My heart was racing a billion miles an hour (Oh yeah, Knots per hour, as I would come to know later).

I looked at my instructor with a completely red blushed face..."heel brakes". He said, "Well, that was nice. Let's do it again, this time, try not to go through the fense".

Oh, those first few weeks of flying were memories that I will always remember. Don't get me wrong, I have often tried to forget them, but they are engraved in my mind like it was yesterday. But now that I am a taildragger pilot with about 1000 hours of tail time, I realize how important it is that those memories stay in the forefront of my mind. For a taildragger doesn't stop flying until it is tied down!

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