Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Learning to Fly (Day 3)

Day three of learning to fly was at Mt. Pleasant Airport again. The sun was low and the wind wasn't noticeable. It was a great time to be flying.

I started out practicing what I had done the day before. After flying a few feet off the ground down the runway twice, Dave called me over for a talk. We chatted for 7 or 8 minutes about the next step. That next step was a big one; flying around the pattern. "Was I really ready after three days," I thought. I knew how to take off, land, and stay straight over the runway. I knew how to do all of that and was able to do it very well, so I was ready. Having thought it over, I had the skills to do it and the confidence to do it.

An Aeronca was taking off as I was taxing up the side of the runway. I taxied up the runway slowly to allow the wingtip vortices coming off the heavier aircraft to dissipate. This also gave me time to think about what I'd be doing. Then it came time for me to actually do it. I was at the end of the runway, on top of a slight hill and I applied power. In no time, I was flying.

I remember looking at the hangars below once I crossed the intersection where the two runways meet. The picture I saw will probably stay in my head for my entire life. As I was looking down, I wondered if I was dreaming. Could I really be flying? Am I now living the dream?

After flying the pattern, the wheels touched down exactly where I wanted it to. It couldn't have been a better landing. Dave came over and my first words were "I like this a lot better than the Rans," referring to another plane that I had gotten a ride in after my first flight lesson. It took everything I had in me to keep from getting out of the plane, jumping up and down while yelling at the top of my lungs like a little kid. That kind of behavior might not grant me a few more trips around the pattern, but I felt good! It was a moment that I have been waiting for as long as I can remember.

Dave told me to fly the pattern three more times, taking off from where I was. At the moment, I was probably a fourth of the way down the runway, so I gave it more throttle from my last takeoff. As soon as I leaped into the air, I was shocked at how much I was climbing. It was like a bat out of hell. I must have been pitched up forty degrees and I wasn't even using half throttle.

I realized that I was too high on my second approach, so I gave it some power and climbed back up and went back around. I made sure to start descending before I did the time before and it resulted in another good landing. After that, I made one more trip around the pattern and called it a day.

A few hours later, I was back inside cooking up some dinner. As I was stirring some pasta together, Dave walked behind me to go to the refrigerator...or maybe not. Sure enough, that slight suspicion was correct. In no time, my shirt tail was cut. My name and the date was written on the shirt square.

I am now tailless; just like the Pterodactyl. It was a dream yesterday, but I'm now living the dream. I'm now a pilot!


Julien said...

Congrats! That's an awesome achievement. It's not very often that one reads about pilots who solo on their first flight! Fly safe.

Mark Zinkel said...

Thanks for the compliment Julien. I hope you've enjoyed following the journey.

Jack Fleetwood said...

This is great news Mark! I can't wait to see your flying stories.

I had an old instructor whose plane I flew. He told me that if I ever had that perfect flight where I didn't do anything wrong, give him back his keys and don't fly his plane anymore! The point being, you should always be learning, there's always something you could have done better. I know you have this attitude Mark and it will serve you well.

Welcome to group!

redbaron_rc said...

you dun done it mark, you are part of a very elite club now! Redbaron!

Brav said...

I like your post, I wonder that I could fly
small airplane it must be fun

12flyatrike said...

Congratulations! I am enjoying your blog a lot. I fly a Jetwing ultralight trike and find Pterodactyls very interesting, I hope to own one someday.

Anonymous said...

E 'vero! Credo che sia una buona idea. Sono d'accordo con te.
Condivido pienamente il suo punto di vista. Ritengo che questa sia un'ottima idea. Sono d'accordo con te.

GeneK said...

So… Mark,
We met at the Mather airport in Rancho Cordova, CA some years ago when I was waiting for my AF son to come in on a cross country flight in T-38s with a buddy. Or, maybe it was when he brought the B-1 to the air show… I don't remember without looking it up. :-)
Anyway, I visit your blog every now and again, and I am really proud of your accomplishments!
Now a pilot, and on my birthday! Good for you!
Time to lift your sights and "aim high" to the next level along the way.
Best wishes,
Gene K.