Mustard Seeds

Mustard Seeds

Monday, May 26, 2014

Flying a Plane... ALONE?

May 22, 2014
Runway 28

The lesson starts with me trying to start the plane... three different turns of the key while the propeller tries to stay pumping. I mumble something to Charlie, my instructor, about needing to prime the engine more even though it's hot outside and he gently taps my wrist. I look over to see him pointing at the fuel mixture. Greeeeaaattt. I didn't give the plane any gas and like Charlie said, I won’t forget that ever again! I hope.

We then taxi out to take off. The first thing Charlie mentions is that we will do 3 take offs and landings and I know instantly what that means. An hour lesson usually includes 9 touch and go's. I start wracking my brain for ways to lock Charlie's door so he can't get out. Without child locks I am stuck. Can't think of anything to keep him stuck in his seatbelt either. I left my super glue at home.

So we fly for a few minutes and then I pull off the runway and my beloved instructor gets out. Grabs a radio. Tells me to call him if I need to. I need him in the plane! That's what I need!

Too late.

My thoughts are rapid-fire after this: I am alone... with a plane. That can fall from the sky! Oh wow, I just put in full power. Oh, I am getting to 55knots really fast. Pull back. Dang, Baby Bird just popped right off the ground. And I am climbing faster than ever before. Where did Baby Bird get all this power? Calling in everything on the radio. How am I already on the base leg of the pattern? Just called in final. I see little ant-Charlie waiting for me. Level out. Look at the end of the runway. Oh wait, I am too short to see. Look out the window. Let it sink. Landed. Used the whole runway. 

After the first one it was completely different. I had to wait for another plane to take off. And then another plane to land. I was getting a little nervous for the waiting but seeing as how I just landed and  the plane could take off again (sign of a great landing) I could do this! I taxied back ready to go. And then... the plane wouldn’t turn right. At all. I radioed Charlie and Jesse came out in his car to drive him over. After pumping the brakes they unstuck and he told me it was fine. Who knows. Didn't need those in the air anyway, right? Took off with a wave, pattern again, and long landing #2.

It was all fun after that. I was flying by myself! Like a bird! Felt like a dream in which God was flying right along with me. That seat wasn't empty, His peace was obvious. It was such a freeing experience. I could do this! The work paid off and I was capable of bringing an airplane in for a landing. Me! The one who didn't get her driver's license till I almost left for college! This was a huge moment for me. I could hardly believe I was actually flying a plane, it was surreal.

After landing #3, I was good to go. I turned around, picked up hitchhiker Charlie off of the side of the runway, and taxied on home. 

I bounded out of the plane, leaving the power on. Oops. But it was amazing to have my ministry-aviation family around me to give me hugs, congrats, and encouragement. The snarky comments abounded in the midst of the hugs but that wasn't surprising at all.

For example...
Me: Thank you Charlie, it wouldn’t have been possible without you.
Ethan: It was barely even possible with you!
It felt that way while I was slugging through the 15 hours to get there! But hey, I made it! And the smiles that followed the comments just made me feel more a part of the group.

My instructor then cut off the back of my shirt to decorate it. North American pilot tradition states that your shirttail is forfeit as a wall trophy upon soloing. I am happily down a t-shirt. Charlie is busy puffy painting it at home.

After that, I had to wait three hours until California woke up. So I called Steve Saint, my Florida-aviation-dad to tell him how excited I was. He was great and told me to write it all down. So here I am. Giving too many details and stoked to be on the ground.

Calling Dad and Grandpa (and Mom and Grandma) was such a wonderful experience. I was so excited to share with these long-time pilots that I had just leapt over hurdle numero uno! I couldn't do this without them either!!! Thank you for inspiring me guys!

My shirt, pilot logbook, and Baby Bird.
Charlie is such a wonderfully patient person.

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