A couple years ago I started flying. It was a bright and shining star in my life at the time. I wrote a little about it on my facebook page so I thought I might transfer a bit to here as well.
Im gonna do a little bit of a blog type thing about my flying lessons (which are FUCKING SWEET- recommend that everyone tries it at least once).
Arrive at Redcliffe Aero Club a little early and spend the first 15 minutes just sitting in the lounge listening to the pilots talk amoungst themselves and reading a little more of my textbooks. Finally my instructor for the day pops up and shows me into the briefing room. Tells me all about what is going to happen today and the theory behind it. Luckily for him he didnt have to explain much cuz I actually did my homework and was well prepared for any questions he threw at me.
After all that was over with he showed me how to sign the planes in and out of the club, the maintainence forms for the planes, how to do the pre flight checks and more or less the important parts of the plane. For anyone familiar with RAC's planes I flew in a C172 which is almost new and is a very comfy plane to fly.
Now the fun begins. We start up the motor eventually (yeah i flooded the bloody thing i think- moving right along) and taxi out to runway 07. I TOTALLY SUCK at steering on the tarmac. Its the most unnatural experience I have had to date. For those unfamiliar with how to taxi a plane- you do it with your feet. There is a control yoke in front of you which has only the use of keeping the wind from catching your plane and toppling it- apart from that its COMPLETELY FUCKING USELESS FOR TURNING. The rudder pedals are roughly the size of two normal car accelerators with the foot brakes on top of them with a seperate hinge. Stomp the Left one to turn left and vice versa. Easy enough you think? Nah uh! Anyone who drives a car will immediately try to use the yoke to steer and then panic (yes i panicked a little) when you find its as useless as tits on a FUCKING BULL. So the instructor took over from there. Got us out to runway 07 where we stopped for traffic. Ran through a couple more checks and then he got me to do the call for entering the runway. From here I just sit like a good little boy without fiddling with anything until the instructor get the plane in the air. Take off is always fun- you feel like you are driving in a car at first then you feel like you have had the ground stolen away from under you. Dont get me wrong I love that feeling its just a little weird to get used to.
So now up at 1000ft he lets me have a bit of a fly and make a call to RAC that Im leaving the circuit over beachmere. He takes it back and climbs to 3000ft over Bribie. He goes through all of the controls and what they do, shows me what they do and then give me a go at it. All pretty straight forward- elevators make you go up and down, ailerons make you roll and rudder makes the plane yaw. Then goes through the secondary effects and the other controls like trim wheel, flaps and throttle. After all thats covered and I had a play with them he just asks me to fly about a bit.
By this time Im not so timid with the controls. I push the yoke in, turn hard to the left and stomp on the left rudder to make a nice fast downwards turn- FUN! Before I know it I have dropped 1000ft and are now going at 160 knots(roughly about 300km/h I think). This cessna is supposed to cruise at about 120 knots and is pushing itself at 140- so this was an awesome feeling. The instructor told me to ease up and moved on to some material from the next lesson since i was doing well with the controls.
He explained how straight and level flight works, how you achieve it and then showed me how to do it. Then it was my turn. He mucked up the controls on me a bit, increased the throttle and left me to it. We were descending at about 15ft/sec and banking slightly but after a little fiddling I got it to go straight and level. Apparently it can take several lessons for some students to get all of it to work properly for them. Like my head needed another reason to almost double in size. So while he kept a good eye out for the other three planes/helicopters we had heard over the radio coming our way- I made my way back down to 1500ft and on course over DBay back to the air strip. As a joke I asked if I could land the plane and he just said yes. Didnt even hesitate. I was a little taken aback but considering the size of my ego at that point I thought- fuck it, bring it on!
I got to make the calls on the way back into the circuit and I did stuff a couple of them up but it wasnt too bad. I flew the circuit once and then came back in for final approach where the instructor told me to lower the flaps, decrease throttle and push forward on the yoke to come in for landing. I managed that but then he had to help out a little to account for the crosswind which blew us off course a little. He operated the throttle on the way down and was telling me what to do with the yoke and then I realised the ground was coming up WAY TOO FAST for my comfort. But the instructor didnt seem too fussed on it- only told me to keep it steady. Come up to the tarmac and then he says level off... nose up and then he brought the throttle further down and we landed pretty smoothly. I think he was helping me control it more than he let on but nonetheless I helped land the plane. AWESOME!!!
Back on the taxiway I got to steer again- totally fell apart again. I swear Ill get it one day but eventually he took over and parked her up. I went over the post flight checklist, locked the plane down and went in for the debriefing paperwork.
$280 and a few pages of forms later I was on my way- having finished my first lesson all I want to do is GET BACK INTO A PLANE!!! IT WAS FUCKING BRILLIANT FUN!!! Cant wait till next Monday when I do more work on straight and level flight!
So that was my first experience of flying a plane. Been doing it ever since. Its been a long road but I will be getting there soon! Next month I am off to Flight Screening with the Royal Australian Air Force in Tamworth! Will be an awesome experience.