I flew a plane! It was so cool!
Mr. B, who is in the library almost every day & the the dad of one of my favorite storytime kids, is a private pilot and has a little plane that he keeps at the St. Mary's airport. We were chatting a while ago while I helped him pick out some books for his son, Harry, and when I told him how I had taken ground school in Baltimore but never got to flight lessons b/c of moving down here, he said "Why don't I take you up in my plane sometime?" And sure enough, yesterday he dropped by my desk and said today looked like a good day to fly, and if the morning weather report was good, we'd fly. It was, and we did!
I helped with the preflight, then we got in the plane. I was too small for the seat, but so are his wife and son, so he keeps pillows handy. We got the engine going and he made his radio calls, and then Mr. B said, "Ok, let's taxi to the runway." And then he sat there with his hands in his lap and looked at me. So I taxied us to the runway and into the run-up turnaround at the end. Mr. B took back over and did the runup, telling me all the while what he was doing and the why and how of everything. He took off and took us out of the airport pattern, then he grinned at me and took his hands off the controls and said "Ok, you fly now."
I took the controls and he coached me to finish our climbout and turn the plane towards Leonardtown. We circled over Leonardtown and Hollywood and then over the Patuxent to Calvert County. He pointed out different landmarks on the ground below & had me use them to fly the plane on different headings. Pointed out landmarks for staying out of the Washington D.C no-fly zone and the Pax River & Dalgren military airspaces. We crossed the Bay from Calvert Cliffs to Cambridge and located the Cambridge airport from the air before circling back and re-crossing the Bay.
He he had me make different kinds of turns and a few other maneuvers while maintaining airspeed & altitude. It was hard but so cool! There were so many things to juggle in my attention. I mostly did fine, but if I let my speed or altitude vary slightly too much he would gently call my attention to it.
Then Mr. B took the controls back over Leonardtown and took us through a few more advanced maneuvers to let me experience them, and then he took us in to land. I was so excited (& busy concentrating!) that I forgot to take any pictures or anything! We landed and did the post-flight just about time for me to eat in the car on my way to work, where I grinned like a fool the whole day. When I thanked him (profusely!), I told Mr. B he had just cost me a lot of time and money, because today has definitely re-awakened my old obsession with flying. Now I really want flight lessons again! Mr. B says he knows all the Flight Instructors and would be glad to introduce me...