My discovery flight. I was sitting at home doing my usual college work when I got a random call from my father. Can you guess what it was about?
He had asked me if I was still interested in getting my private pilots and if I was, to look for a flight school to attend. I spent the day excitedly talking to the receptionists at the nearest flight schools. The closest was Arlington’s, but I didn’t like how they didn’t have a control tower. I wanted to make sure I’d be comfortable talking on the radios and what better place than an airport with a control tower? So, in the end Paine Field was where I chose to take my lessons. Once, I had chosen a school I contacted my father who then set everything up. My discovery flight was the first week of October, but the weather was too bad and we had to reschedule. Then the third week, once again the weather was too bad, but I did get to meet my potential flight instructor, and was introduced to the planes they had. The planes were so small! I was terrified!
Finally, the day had come. I was to be introduced to a different instructor, seeing as how the previous one was getting a job somewhere else. Which was fine by me. Anyways, my CFI took us aside to quickly break down the basics of flying, before taking us out and talking about the preflight. I of course, was too busy trying to stop my heart from ripping out of my chest. I was actually going to fly this little Cessna 172! But would I like it? I’ve wanted this for so long…. What if it wouldn’t be what I expected? I was so nervous I couldn't even put my seat-belt on! The CFI had to lean over and do it for me. Talk about embarrassing, though I wasn't caring about that at the time. Besides being in a helicopter, this was the smallest plane I had ever been in. Being slightly claustrophobic, I had to focus on what I wanted, not what I was about to do. My dream. I kept playing it over and over again in my head. This was the first step to getting closer to my dream. There was no backing down. Everything I've worked for has lead up to this moment.
I will tell you this much, I don’t remember much about getting into the plane, or taxiing down the runway besides the fact that it was awkward trying to steer with my feet. I do remember that all too quickly we took off and were in the air, and suddenly I was being told how to hold the yoke. My pulse raced, my hands were shaking, and I could hardly breathe. I was terrified. Absolutely in every way possible terrified. We soared into the sky and I numbly turned the plane left and right as I was shown. I could feel the weight of my brother and father in the back. That instant, I looked down over the water and became dizzy. If I did one wrong move and the flight instructor didn’t catch it fast enough I could end all of our lives (well not really, but it sure felt like it). Somehow though, all my fear started to fade away as I began to feel the airplane. If I trusted it, and treated it well, it would in turn treat me well. Eventually, my fear of the airplane simply falling and crashing to earth dissipated. Once that fear was gone I broke out into the biggest probably cheesiest smile I’ve ever had. I couldn't fathom how a chunk of metal could stay up in the sky. Funny how I had always been surrounded by planes but never once wondered how they could fly. I've flown from here to Europe as a passenger, and the thought never crossed my mind. Yet, sitting there, in that tiny Cessna, I couldn't understand it. But, suddenly I wanted to. That was the start of my hunger for aviation.
My life changed completely and forever at that exact moment. I would never look at planes or the sky in the same way again. A whole new world suddenly opened up to me. If I wasn’t trying so hard to play it cool, as if flying was no big deal, I probably would have thrown my hands up and yelled at the top of my lungs. I completely gave into the world of aviation that day and ever since, nothing has been the same.
Total cost invested thus far: $250