Please remember that I started this learning-to-fly lark in no small part because flying on commercial planes scared the living crap out of me. My coping strategy of choice was the “double V cocktail”, valium and vodka. When it got to the stage where even that wasn’t working, something had to give.My latest commercial flight was a triumph of overcoming fears. I actively enjoyed it! I even started off looking forward to it. I took my assigned seat by the window, looking out over the flight school, waving to GUOB, as they took off ahead of us*. I settled in to enjoy the amazing view as we climbed up and out over the lake. The ride wasn’t 100% smooth but it didn’t bother me. My concern more for the fate of my glass of Merlot than my nerves. The wine, incidentally, a treat rather than a coping necessity.
Even as a passenger, I kind of entered pilot mode. I was enthralled by the view out of the window, employing my “visual scan” technique that I use when flying, sure enough I spotted other traffic. Smaller aircraft below us, bigger ones above. I followed highways and power lines, lakes and canals; looking for navigational landmarks, routes to follow, way points to find. I even caught myself looking at large fields, eyeing up potential forced landing sites. I didn't even notice when the cabin crew leaned over to collect my wine glass.Most airline passengers get a “bird’s eye view”, even when a passenger I still maintain a pilots eye view.
Learning to fly changes you. You are never a passenger again.
*No I don't think they saw me!