Wednesday, 2 October 2013

it changes you

Learning to fly changes you, in all kinds of ways. For me one of the biggest ways has been my reaction to commercial flights.

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!

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