My Flight Lessons  
©Darrell Young  

At the age of 40, I decided that I must be a pilot. I could just see myself up there, busting clouds, and soaring with the birds. I chose a nice local airport called SkyRanch, and found a good instructor. I finally got a license about a year later. Here is my recollection of the first dozen lessons.

Lesson 1

First flight, practiced ground reference maneuvers. We flew to a big electric plant with a tall chimney. My instructor said to select a spot on the wing and place the big chimney there. After my instructor stopped yelling I found out he didn’t mean literally.

Lesson 2

More ground reference maneuvers. S-turns over freeway and wingovers. After my instructor took the yoke away from me, he told me that “wingover” does not mean flying inverted.

Lesson 3

Slow flight practice, my instructor pulled the big red knob thing back until the engine idled and said, “Now, your engine is out, what are you going to do?” I don’t think he was amused when I let go of the yoke, grabbed the ceiling and screamed, “We’re gonna die, we’re gonna die!”

Lesson 4

More slow flight and stalls, I wasn’t sure what to do when the nose went down so fast and my stomach hit me in the face. I asked my instructor to help, and I don’t think it was the least bit funny when he let go of the yoke, grabbed the ceiling and screamed, “We’re gonna die, we’re gonna die!”

Lesson 5

Practiced landings and touch & goes at Downtown airport, my instructor said he’s never seen anybody bounce so high off of the nosewheel. Finally, some praise!

Lesson 6

More landings at Downtown, learned about ground effect and flaring. I was able to land on the numbers, but they were the numbers on the other end of the runway.

Lesson 7

First landing in controlled airspace. McGhee-Tyson tower said land on 27 Right. I found out later that doesn’t mean the little narrow runway to the right of runway 27. I didn’t know a Cessna 150 would go under a 747’s wing like that. At least there were no wingtip vortices to worry about.

Lesson 8

Today we practiced radio procedures at Downtown airport. I didn’t know they allowed cussing on the radio, but that’s what that Bonanza pilot did when I announced I was coming downwind. I thought downwind meant coming “down” through the “wind” to land. I learned later that I should have said “turning to final” instead of “downwind.” my instructor made me go around since the Bonanza pilot was waiting for us next to the runway. We returned to Sky Ranch airport.

Lesson 9

My instructor called and said he was going to be sick for a while, and that another instructor would be giving me lessons until he “felt better.” The new instructor and I practiced calm wind landings. After the lesson my instructor called my wife and asked if my life insurance was paid up. I thought that was awfully nice of him!

Lesson 10

Today my new instructor and I practiced landing stalls. The mechanic says that 714LF will be out of the shop in a couple of weeks. He kept saying something about an “assessment.” My new instructor said he was going on vacation until his back brace was removed. At least I learned that you don’t try to regain lost altitude at 48 knots by pulling up the nose with the engine idling.

Lesson 11

Since my new instructor went on vacation, and the other had too many students, my old instructor said he still wasn’t feeling so well, but he would give me a lesson. We did more stall training, this time from 6000 feet MSL. My instructor said he has never seen anybody lose 4800 feet in a stall. More praise!

Lesson 12

I thought that after the tenth lesson they let you do a “solo,” so I asked my instructor about it. I’d heard that a person can pass out laughing, but I had never seen it before. I was concerned that he might be getting sick again, so I flew toward Sky Ranch. I guess I got a little lost. When my instructor woke up and radioed for ground tracking info, (I left my sectionals at home) Nashville International, 160 miles from SkyRanch, answered. My instructor wrote it in my log book as my first cross-country.

Note: Since my last lesson my new instructor has been too sick to fly with me. He says he is moving to Washington to run for President anyway, so I’ll have to find yet another instructor. My previous instructor is still on vacation, and the other instructors still have too many students. Can anyone suggest a good instructor. I’m close to solo, I just know it!

Copyright ©MMIV by Darrell Young, All Rights Reserved