May 24th, 2013
‘Jo on the Road’ goes Flying
I’ve come to the end of my ‘Jo on the Road’ adventures, but not before visiting one last experience, and boy have I saved the best ‘til last – an introductory flight lesson in Vail Valley, Colorado. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we pulled up to the airport and I was faced with private jets, small aircrafts and personalised planes… which one was I about to jump into? Before I explode with nerves and excitement, I’m introduced to a completely cool and calm pilot – probably just as well, as I am a big ball of jittery nerves… as you’ll see below, even in the plane I’m shaking!
My instructor, Loren, was brilliant right from the moment we shook hands. He made me feel at ease and completely relaxed throughout the whole experience. To kick-start my introductory lesson I’m given an overview of the lesson layout, and what I’d expect if I were to carry on with lessons… imagine me becoming a fully certified pilot… madness!
^^ Quick bite to eat and a few of the flight handbooks.
Once I’ve calmed down from all the excitement and realization that I will actually be flying a plane, we head out onto the airfield to check out the plane I’ll be soaring through the skies in:
Carefully climbing aboard the single-engine aircraft I get comfortable and I’m handed the key… AHH! Engine started, seat-belts clipped in and headphones on, we prepare to head onto the runway! For this, Loren calmly notifies the flight tower, who let us know the runway is clear and we get moving! Luckily the aircraft is easier to fly than to drive, well they’re not made for driving, as I find with my not-so-skillful steering.
Before I know it, we’re ready to take off and put my flying skills to the test! All switches ready, facing the right direction and we’re given the go-ahead… I don’t think there’s any way of me describing the amazing sensation of taking off. Being able to feel the plane gather enough speed to lift its nose and take to the skies. Once steady and flying in a straight line, Loren tells me to take a look outside the window… I’m honestly a bit too scared to look anywhere but out ahead! However, I do, and oh woah… unbelievable. Just looking down over the Valley and realizing that I am in fact flying this tiny aircraft. Sensational!
Just incredible. I find myself in a tiny bubble… or should I say, on cloud nine! Practising my turns by dipping a wing and speeding the plane up, I gently glide over the valley for around 40 minutes, just taking in the beautiful views and enjoying the thrills of flying!
Loren prepared me for landing, by heading over to the runway and lining up correctly, he contacts the control tower again to check the skies are clear for us and I mentally prepare myself to come back down to Earth. Moments before actually landing the aircraft, Loren notifies the tower (and myself) that we will in fact be taking off again after landing! Here’s me thinking my amazing experience is coming to an end, only to find out I get a few more minutes of gliding and unbelievable views!
When coming in to land for a second time (avoiding a much larger plane on our way back round), and the wheels touch down, I can finally relax back in to my chair – we made it! Not that I ever had any worries that we wouldn’t but… I was just flying the plane! Obviously Loren had controls too and stepped in whenever he needed to but even still… the majority of the time it was all me!
I’m already eager to get back in a plane and fly again! It certainly made my flight back home more interesting, and I began to recognise the sensations and feelings of the plane taking off and steadying as we went.