Until yesterday I hadn’t been the pilot in command of an aircraft for 2,156 consecutive days. I always wanted to fly, but when life happens flying is always one of the first things to go.
Lately life has been smiling on me brightly. Time, then, to fly. On May 13th I got my third-class FAA medical certificate. Check. Six days later I met my instructor, Marcia, at Maine Aviation and did the ground portion of the review. Check. Since then neither the weather nor the schedule have cooperated so I could complete the flight portion of the review. Twice I had gone to the airport, just to have weather move in prior to our intended time of takeoff. I was getting discouraged. More reading, watching the activity at the airport from the plane spotters lot, listening to aviation radios, and watching videos on YouTube of pilots performing aerial maneuvers was only making me increasingly anxious.
Yesterday the gods finally smiled upon me. I spent the day at the Brunswick International Fly-In before driving to Portland International Jetport for my review. The skies were deep blue and only a few puffy clouds scattered at an altitude much higher than that we’d be flying.
I preflighted N739JW, a nice Cessna 172N, called for clearance, and taxied to runway one-one. It was exciting to be back behind the controls of an airplane, but mentally taxing as well. There is so much to do, so much to remember, and so little room for failure. Sloppy flying is not my style, and I wanted to get the most out of my instructor fees. Marcia was great! She patiently and thoroughly reviewed with me the checklists, procedures, airport operations, aircraft systems, and performance maneuvers.
After departing one-one we headed to the Old Orchard Beach practice area, where I performed slow flight, power-on stalls, power-off stalls, simulated engine failure, steep turns and s-turns. I was getting comfortable with the airplane and maneuvers and feeling pretty good. Flying after a long break is not quite like riding a bike, but things were definitely coming back to me. Marcia didn’t seem concerned–in fact she said early in the flight that I would likely not need to fly with her again for the review–which put me more at ease.
The only part I had left to do was perhaps the most difficult, and the most critical: the landing. We returned to Portland (PWM) and did five right-traffic landings on one-eight. They weren’t the pretty landings I am used to, but they were safe and controlled. Now I just need to practice so I can dial them in every time.
I was on an unimaginable high after the flight. It was difficult to contain. I love airplanes and flight. There’s nothing like it. I understand what Leonardo da Vinci felt when he wrote:
Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.
All photos taken during the flight review by my instructor, Marcia Wescott.