My first flying lesson

by Jonah

Berck said I should blog about my first flying lesson, since he did.  Since he’s my instructor, maybe that’s a homework assignment?

He also told me to read his post about his first lesson, and there’s a lot of similarities!

We began the lesson by going through the checklist Berck created for the plane. I learned all where all the buttons I’m supposed to push and switches I’m supposed to flip to test are and where all the hinges, etc. I’m supposed to  check are to make sure they’re not falling apart.

Then we pulled the plane out of the hanger, strapped ourselves in, and went through the checklist for starting the engine.  One of the things you have to do is open the little window on the left side and yell “Clear prop!” as loud as you can.  This is to warn anyone that might happen to be walking by your plane to get away from the propeller before they’re decapitated.  It took us so long to get through the checklist, however, that by the time I actually go around to starting the engine, it was probably ten minutes later.

The next step was to steer the plane down the taxiways to the runway.  As Berck noted in his post, there’s this thing that looks like a steering wheel right in front of you but is completely useless when steering a plane.  In fact, “driving” a plane is pretty much the opposite as driving a car.  You control the throttle with your hand and you steer with your feet by pushing on the rudder pedals, which move the front landing gear wheel.  I felt like a 15 year old with a learner’s permit, trying to move as slowly as possible while over-correcting my steering like crazy.  This plane also only has brake pedals on the left (my) side, so I had to try to brake (evenly with both feet) as fast I could whenever Berck said to.

Following the checklist went out the window as I was concentrating on steering, but I somehow managed to get us to the run up area.  Here, Berck took the controls and wheeled us around so we were facing the runway.  Then I kept my feet mashed to the brake pedals and gunned the throttle while we went through the checklist of the things that you have to check at high RPMs.

Berck took over to take off, and we headed east before he gave me the controls.  I practiced turning to the north and to the south, trying to coordinate my turns using the yoke (attached to the ailerons) and the rudder pedals (attached to the rudder).  Berck kept encouraging me to release my death grip on the yoke and to keep a hand on the throttle.  He showed me how to set trim and how to set the flaps to perform slow flight.  Then he had me head back to the airport and took over again once we got close to land.

I had to taxi back to the hanger, which seemed easier than the first time taxing out.  Once we shut the engine off, we went through the last of the checklist, which involves things like turning the key to off and taking it out.

I don’t share Berck’s passion for flying, but it seemed like a thing I should learn how to do, especially once our plane is built.  But I had fun! And even though I already knew he was a professional instructor, I was very impressed with Berck’s instruction.  He really is very good at it.

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