For quite some time, I was dealing with the abrupt way I "came back down to earth" in such a shocking way. Such a contrast! And for a while afterwards, I wasn't sure where to go with it all...do I really pursue this flying thing?
My coaching clients were all asking me...what was I going to do? So more than any other coaching idea for this blog, this one kept coming back as the most important to talk about...it was time to begin.
So I decided....on a trip to New Mexico to see my dear friends and business partners. That trip helped me say it out loud: "I have decided to learn to fly."
Of course, being ME, I have to do it differently, and so I've decided to learn in old wonderful, vintage, gorgeous, taildraggers. In Champs and Vagabonds and Cubs. What are those, you ask?
Here's a view from across the airfield of my husband Kerry flying a Cub last weekend. (I watched him prove his many pilot skills to me that day...more on that later!)
Isn't it a sweet little thing? It wants to fly, it begs to fly, it can't help but fly.
Not for me is the modern, tin can, oh-my-gosh-I-can't-breathe-in-here tricycle gear CessnaCherokeeBonanza-type airplane. No thank you. (Big exception for old warbirds, though....there's something about THAT kind of big metal that just gives me goosebumps flying in them. But they're not for me to learn in, yet.)
Why not the modern ones? Because I love those old ones, and because it seems like THAT is "real" flying to me...the way we all learned how to do it in the 1930's and 40's. (I say "we" even though I wasn't there; I was born too late.) Slow and steady and with the door/window open if possible.
So the next natural question: who is going to teach me? (Part of me thought 'Ah, I get it...that's how you'll put this off....there's no one around anymore who will teach you in those old things'. Yes, that part of me was really surprised when it took only two weeks for my instructor to appear in my life.)
Rick Kay is an instructor with many hours in taildraggers, and even more hours flying with the airlines, both domestic and international. He's a quiet softspoken man, whom we first met a couple of years ago when we drove into his yard because he had a grass strip, and we couldn't resist finding out who was the owner of it. I had forgotten he was an instructor.
And he had me at hello....well at "baby steps".
It happened at the local aviation chapter meeting at the airport, when Kerry described my journey so far, and when I squinched up my face at the idea of learning all the "stuff" that pilots have to learn. Rick just turned to me and said, "Just start with baby steps....we'll start you with taxiing."
Taxiing. That's the airplane moving on the ground. What a concept!!!! I had never heard anyone... ever...suggesting to me THAT part of learning to fly...EVER.
I had just come from an aerobatics lesson, remember. I was learning how to loop, roll, hammerhead and spin, before I even knew the basics of taking off and landing....which is typical for me. I learned how to skate backwards in a circle, ala Peggy Fleming, before I learned how to stop (although crashing into people and objects seemed to do the trick). I learned how to do a ballet double pirouette before I learned what a simple plie' was (and plie's were SUCH a bore after that).
But this was perfect. Rick became my instructor right then and there, with the idea of taking me back to basics, even when I had already jumped months ahead of standard training. He knew that even with all my experiences, I knew nothing yet. And surprisingly, that was enormously comforting.
I am a beginner. Oddly, a beginner with years of experience, but a beginner nonetheless. And that's challenging to feel like I'm a novice at something after all these years of being expert at most things--to know that I will fail, and make mistakes, and screw up, and not know. (So...ummmm....why am I doing this again, exactly?)
Because after a while, I will know and I will be good, really good even, and that airplane will be an extension of me, and I will have WINGS!
All right....deep breath....here we go.