When I added this next adventure to my Bucket List, I honestly didn’t expect to cross it off so soon. This particular hobby had been on my radar for a few years but I always assumed it would be incredibly expensive so I kept pushing it to the back burner.
The night before my big adventure I called my mom to tell her the exciting news and I was met with crickets on the other end of the line. Her silent apprehension reminded me to tell the parents about my “dangerous” activities AFTER the fact — and by “dangerous activity” I’m not referring to a trip over the state line to get dazed and confused as the title of this post might insinuate, I’m talking about conquering the sky and learning how to fly an airplane. (Because I definitely don’t want any local authorities breaking down my front door for not clarifying that very important point). 😉
Over the last six years I’ve taken dozens of flights and every time I board the plane I wonder about the logistics involved in flying the plane: Do they really need so many buttons and gauges? Is it super complicated or do you just kick it over to “auto-pilot”? Are there cup holders in the Pilot’s Cabin? (Okay so that last one has nothing to do with any logistics, I’m just super curious).
So after years of curiosity, I was surprised to receive a local Groupon deal in my inbox for a 60-minute introductory flight lesson. It was my chance to finally learn a little more about becoming a pilot! I purchased the deal and scheduled my lesson without any hesitation and the countdown was on for the day I would spend an afternoon blowing smoke… In the sense of, the exhaust coming out of our airplane.
On the morning of my lesson I was experiencing all kinds of emotions. I was excited, nervous, happy, anxious, and
terrified all at once, and when we arrived at the airport my stomach was doing serious somersaults. I’m no stranger to death defying adrenaline rushes, but for some reason I was extra anxious that morning.
I climbed into the Cessna 172 Skyhawk and my instructor provided a brief rundown of each individual button, switch, and gauge, spending additional time on the speedometer and altitude gauges. He then explained how to steer the plane — not with the “steering wheel” (called a yoke) as I always assumed, but rather with pedals located on the floor — which was definitely a trip! And in case you’re curious, the yoke is used to tilt the aircraft side-to-side and to raise and lower the nose of the plane during flight.
Before taxiing down the runway we completed a comprehensive safety check, testing the throttle, carburetors, and engines, and were then cleared for takeoff. With a quick look back at my husband, who was bravely sitting in the backseat, I smiled and then hit the throttle. We sped down the runway and after pulling back on the yoke we were up, up and away!
This budding new pilot had a smile ear to ear as we flew high above the Salt Lake Valley at speeds over 100 miles per hour. We were treated to incredible views of the Great Salt Lake to the west and close up views of the Wasatch Mountains to the east.
It was a little windy that afternoon but overall it was a great flight and the private lesson was filled with a lot of useful knowledge. I was surprised to learn that becoming a pilot isn’t nearly as expensive as I originally assumed. And although I had a blast, I don’t see a pilot’s license in my near future — maybe in a few years — for now, I think I’ll stick to jumping out of those tiny little planes with a parachute strapped to my back. 🙂