Wednesday, October 08, 2003
I flew a plane today.
And not just "here, take the controlls for awhile, either." Well, we did do that on the way to Skydive Chicago, but on the way back, it was, "Hey, you know how to steer on the ground, right? Steer us down the runway. Now go ahead and pull back gently to get us off the ground. Now turn us towards Joliet. Maintain 3500 feet altitude. Okay, we're going to do a lap around the airport and land on runway one two. Start with a descent of 500 feet per minute. Etc."
I mean, I landed the god-damned plane. It's important to note that I've never actually flown a real plane before in my life. As in ever.
Granted, my instructor/brother-in-law had to help out at the last second to keep my hard landing from becoming a crash-landing (this was due in part to my knowing we were coming in a bit too hard, but Scott was giving me correction advice the whole way in, and had suddenly become pre-occupied with manning the throttle, and didn't give me the order to pull up in time that I was waiting for, so he just grabbed the yoke and saved our bacon), but I aimed it all the way in, and let me tell you, when you're keeping a plane just five knots above a stall while doing a gradually descending lap around an airfield for your approach, it ain't easy.
It feels a lot like those balancing things, as if you were trying to keep the plane upright and pointed at the runway but it's sitting on a rolling beam.
I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was to get to do this. I've dreamed of being a pilot ever since I was fourteen, when my friend Gregg and I hatched a plan to both become aviators. When the military rejected me at the recruiting level for piloting because my vision was 20/21 in my right eye, my personal dream was shattered (Gregg is flying for American again now! woo!). So recently in an attempt to relive the dream I was playing a ton of WWIIOnline and doing almost exclusive fighter/bomber missions, and learned how to properly land a plane in simulation every time (seriously, landing planes = hardest thing to do ever). Evidently it paid off, because I am now officially "the best novice pilot with no training" Scott's ever seen.
I mean, I landed the plane.
One more thing on life's checklist of cool shit to do before I die? Done.