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July 16th, 2002

flying

I went flying today, with the new instructor Aaron. 90 minutes of ground and 1.4 hours in the air. My first instrument training flight. Well, first since I did a fair amount of instrument training fourteen years ago (doesn't seem possible that it was that long). According to my logbook, I was most of the way towards the rating, long ago, but then stopped for some reason. Looking at the dates, probably had something to do with getting divorced and the resulting life-turned-upside-down.

So stuff was, obviously, exceedingly rusty. Flight by reference to the instruments alone, at least when there are no distractions (like also planning an approach) is not incredibly difficult, but it is tedious and exhausting after a while. One has to keep up the instrument scan constantly, in order to keep altitude, airspeed, and heading pegged where they should be. I'm lucky enough not to get vertigo or other spatial disorientation, so that is a plus. And I understand flight physics pretty well, so what needs to be done to make a certain thing happen to the plane is more clear to me (it's not always "push forward on the yoke" to descend, nor "open the throttle" to increase speed, for instance).

But what I need to learn is to relax more, give up a little control, not hang on so tightly to the controls. Aaron's pretty good about this. Relax, watch the death grip, no, just one hand on the yoke. It helped some, today. As reasonably confident as I am flying a plane, I do so tensely, wanting to maintain some illusion of control when true control comes more from being more attuned to the seat of one's pants, listening to the sound of the engine, and patiently reacting to what the flight instruments say needs to be done. It's all sort of new to me.

But I guess so is the whole business of learning to give up control when I think I can have it, but I really can't.

It's good to be learning again, and challenging myself.

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Charley

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