Last Saturday, I flew a plane. Not a simulation, and not for pretend. A real vehicular aircraft that transports people and things from point A to point B via flight travel. No big deal.
Jax and I arrived at Downtown Aviation a little before 1:00, and about 30 seconds after we met our flight coach and Cessna 172, Mr. Instructor hands me the keys and we crawl into the cockpit.
Uhhh….. you do realize I have zero knowledge on how to fly a plane, right? I haven’t had an ounce of training, and I didn’t exactly Google it….
Mr. Instructor assures me this is not a problem and proceeds to give me a brief description of all the dials on the control panel. He points out the speed indicator, turn coordinator, suction gauge, altimeter, and a bunch of other buttons I won’t pretend to understand. We check the breaks, we slide on our headsets, and we announce to the flight world our plans for take off.
Lord, please do not let me learn that I am incapable of keeping a plane in flight and plummet to my death.
I am tense. As in, I’m likely not even breathing. I am 100% unprepared to fly a plane, and I feel like I need to warn somebody. I might as well be blindfolded, I am so unqualified. But Jax is in the backseat shouting encouragements, and our flight ascends smoothly. Once we are afloat in the sky, all is right with the world. It is glorious.
Mr. Instructor switches the controls over to me and points me in various directions. I steer us around the marvelous expanse of sky, and it is an incredible feeling. Although my part doesn’t require much skill or talent, as the one with the license is handling all the complicated stuff, it is still amazing to think that I, at this very moment, am flying a plane. We see giant flocks of geese and make our way through wisps of clouds, and I am all smiles.
We travel along the Mississippi River for a while, then eventually head to West Memphis, Arkansas for a quick landing so that Jax and I can switch places. The landing went smoothly, and my 30 minutes of flight fame were up.
Jax took over the driver’s seat, and we headed up for round two.
He is a masterful flier and navigated like a pro, while I sat in the back dazzled by the scenery below and the excitement of it all. After Jax did his thing, we headed back to Memphis, survived another successful landing, and stood on solid ground. You know, just your average Saturday afternoon.
Sittin’ around, waiting for an airplane
Don’t know how to fly, but that’s okay
Got me a pilot, she’s going my way
If she’s got wings, if she’s got wings
~ Widespread Panic