Friday, May 4, 2012

He Who Hesitates is Lost

April 26, 2012
Paine- Arlington- Paine
Cessna 152
1.3 hours 6 landings


I hesitated.

Today, I could have held a piece of the world in my hands. After weeks of complaining about this and that, in the end I have no one to blame but myself now. Though, there is no excuse, I'll start from the beginning. Today, I was the world’s biggest idiot. The whole morning Paine was IFR. I had my POH/ presolo exams, so regardless I knew I'd be meeting up with my CFI to go over them. I actually had gone in early to use the flight schools resources. I'm not excited for my cross country flight planning, I can tell you that. It was torturous trying to figure out if we'd make our imaginary trip from Pain to Astoria without having to refuel. It’s not that it was particularly difficult... it’s just that I kept rushing ahead of myself. Aren’t there computer that can do this for us? Anyway, as we were going over my exams when the weather turned in my favor. I was surprised to find out that we would go flying after all. I hadn’t really expected it. The winds were at 10 knots at Paine so Ryan had me fly us to Arlington. On our way there I checked the weather, the winds were calm, visibility fine, ceiling good. The calm winds should have tipped me off, but I wasn't thinking about it. I was more focused on the rain we were about to enter, and the visibility.

Turned out to be some showers, and we easily passed through them on our way to the airport. Going in for landing, I was rusty to say the least. I was slow to pull out the power the first time around. The second, I felt too far from the runway and on final I was coming in too slow, not building enough air speed. The third landing, I believe I did a go around because I was too low and still far from the runway. Somewhere, I overshot final. I kept forgetting to make my radio calls. I remember thinking for the first time ever how much I missed Paine. I don't like uncontrolled airports, is that weird? Obviously, you have to watch for traffic regardless, but to have to continuously make the radio calls is just a bother. I think its even more odd that I realized I actually enjoy talking to ATC now. I'm still not awesome when I talk to them, but I'd rather talk to someone then not. Uncontrolled airports are just too much work. Anyways. My patterns were sloppy, I even mentioned to Ryan that, I just wasn’t on my game, though my landings weren't too bad. Eventually, my patterns got better, I remembered to make my radio calls, and I quickly fell back into my usual comfortable routine.

As I made one of my final landings for the day and was getting ready to put my flaps up Ryan told me to slow down and take the next exit off the runway. I didn’t think anything of it since we’ve done this before, until he asked me if I wanted to solo.

And I hesitated. My mind raced. My mouth half open. My pulse jumped. And I blurted the first thing that came to my mind. “No.”

I’ve been told numerous times that he who hesitates is lost. Am I lost? Ryan has mentioned to me a few things about his training, I don’t remember it exactly but he said something about stalls for the first time and where he was wondering what the hell he was doing flying, or something like that. That’s what I felt like at that exact moment, only with two different feelings. It was a tug of war of emotions that left me exhausted and ashamed at the end of the day.

What the hell was I doing flying? That’s all I could think about. What the hell am I doing. I have no business doing this. Who am I to be doing this? What right do I have to do what man was not meant to do?

The other part of me;

What the hell was I doing saying no? I’ve wanted this for so long; I know I can land the plane. Why am I saying no? I can do this. I’ve done it plenty of times without my instructor touching the controls. I’m confident in my abilities. I've been wanting this. This is who I am, all that I'm about, this is the first step to my dreams. Why was I hesitating?

I can try and make excuses. But in the end none of that matters. And I can honestly say, this is the first time in my life that I have ever felt this ashamed. I must be the only student pilot on the face of this earth to turn down the opportunity to solo. Have to be. I even asked my instructor, to which he laughed and said that I was the first, but that there was a first to everything. He told me if I wasn’t ready I wasn’t ready, he wasn’t going to rush me. My response? I told him not to give me the option, just get out of the plane.

I’m a little weird. I know I’ll make a good pilot for the sole fact that I thrive in chaotic situations. And if any emergency ever rises I should be able to handle it. I don’t know what to do with myself when things are calm. But, when things get rough its as though my body kicks it into overdrive, everything seems sharper, I’m more vigilant, careful, precise. Always have been.

I flew us back to Paine, the whole time trying to keep my emotions under control and fly the airplane. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to turn back around and let him solo me. My heart was breaking the longer I was up there. The sky was eating me up, tearing a hole into my heart. I wanted him just to fly us there. But, I knew that I’d start crying. I needed something to focus on to distract me. Flying. Keep flying. Don’t think about it, just watch for traffic. Check the ATIS. Scan for traffic. Call up tower. Scan for traffic. Watch airspeed. Keep scanning. Watch altitude. Keep scanning. Stop all emotions. Just fly the plane. Keep her safe, keep yourself safe. As I turned on base I slipped and started thinking about how I couldn’t wait to get out of there, I felt suffocated. This resulted in me overshooting final. I took a deep breath and cleared mind again. Stop thinking. Fly the plane. I landed her nicely, got off the run way, cleaned her up, and called up ground to taxi back. Got out of the airplane. Walked into the flight school. And the emotions came crashing down. Ryan was talking to me, but I didn’t hear a word he was saying. Something about my landings, but all I could think about was that I could have soloed. Today, was supposed to be one of the best moments of my life. But, it wasnt. He handed me my log book, breaking me from my thoughts. I forced a weak smile and brought up again how he needs to not ask next time, if he keeps asking I’ll say no. But, I know that’s not true. I can promise you I won’t make this mistake again. I left the flight school as empty as a drum. I've talked to my close friends about this. They’ve all told me the same thing. I trusted my gut reaction. I didn’t feel on top of my game, so I made the right decision. I’ll know when I’m ready. It’s not as though I won’t have a second chance. Everything happens for a reason. Blah, blah, blah.

I’m actually having the chance to work on my dream, something many would kill for. I’m doing something that I’m so in love with. And I hesitated. One of my friends asked me what the big deal was, why I was so upset. How couldn’t I be? This is everything I’ve been working towards. Supposed to be a major milestone. Instead it’s a rollercoaster of emotions that in the end has left me feeling worse than before.

I don’t know why I said no. Because I’ve been ready to do this for months. I went to the airport today. The exact one I should have soloed on. And saw a beautiful plane. She soothed my acheing heart, and I was reminded why I’m so in love with flying. I’ve been knocked down again, there are no words of encouragement here, no one offering a helping hand, as I look around I’m on my own. I see now that this is my own journey, I'll always be alone through this. I don’t want to fly right now, or tomorrow. Yet, the sky whispers to me. So, I force myself back up. I try and find the stars, but the clouds cover them up. Though, they're covered, they speak my name. I may have been a coward. I may feel ashamed. But, saying no to soloing does not make me a bad pilot by any means.

Total cost invested thus far: $5337

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