and... that's where the excitement's going to end tonight. honestly I'm glad I pre-scheduled the next flight, because I'm not sure I'd have the nerves to sign up for another one if I wasn't already committed. I basically spent the entire time freaking out. It was very uncool. After being involved in aviation for years, talking to pilots, being friends with pilots, acting like I could talk the talk, etc... I now know that a real airplane makes me look like a total ass. check.
I can't climb without turning. I can't descend without turning. I can't maintain a heading to save my life, and I can't turn without getting scared. I go on airplane rides all the time and know what a roll looks like, but for some reason initiating one myself is a totally new thing. At one point we were in a bank that just kept getting steeper and steeper and I suddenly felt like anything I'd do would make it worse, I pulled everything off the controls and just stared frozen at the display. My instructor didn't take over, so I yelled something about "DID I DO SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE RUDDER?" After a few MORE seconds of tension he calmly suggested that I put my hand back on the control wheel. (He's very calm.)
There are just a MILLION things to think about! You should see the checklist for just starting an engine... like twenty things, and you're supposed to do them kinda all at the same time. I started the engine twice tonight and both times I forgot to watch oil pressure which is insane, because I write specs for oil pressure annunciations for a living. And the bad part is that I'm not even trying to think about everything yet. My instructor did all the radio stuff.
Remember when I said I was afraid of learning to fly because it'd be like driver's ed? Yeah, it's like driver's ed. Except you NEVER get to just hit the brakes, pull over and think.
The only positive thing is that you are in an airplane. The sky is nice. The view is nice. When it's not all slanted, it can make you happy. When you're not thinking of what an idiot you are, and when you're not feeling totally overwhelmed, and when you're not dwelling on the feeling that you're NEVER going to learn to keep track of everything, it's a nice feeling to be in an airplane. So I'm going to study up and keep trying to hit it, with the idea that things will improve. It's my old "beat the curve" idea that got me through grad school... I am smart. I've been tested. This means I am smart enough to do something that thousands of other people do.
What's funny is that when I google around looking for other "first flying lesson" stories, I find no one else as exasperated. There's the thrill of beginning, pride of doing a good job, videos, you FILMED the thing? WHAT? You used trim? You landed? Screw all that, I'm making this public as a head-nod to anyone who felt like that first lesson was a little nuts.
Or second flight? I mean, I saw one youtube video where the instructor started the engine, held onto the controls most of the time, or they'd fly along some scenic river for a while. Maybe that's why most "first lessons" are about the thrill of flying, the schools make them more of a discovery thing? I could have taken a discovery flight, but skipped it, I knew what I wanted to do... dive straight into private pilot training. Well I'm here.
I think things got better towards the end, when I worked harder on looking out the windows. I spent the first part looking at the avionics. You're not supposed to do that. But they're bright and pretty and have graduated, numerical ways of telling you what your bank or pitch is, and it's tempting to just stare at them. But then you can't really feel what's going on, and you make these little corrections that don't work out for you in the long run. Maybe that was my downfall. either way I'm back in one piece, the airplane returned in one piece, and I have things in my head to work on.