Thursday, 18 December 2014

Confession from a dumb student pilot: let us never speak of this again

There aren’t many things that I did as a student pilot that I didn’t ‘fess up to on this blog. But this one was a little bit special, occurring as it did, straight after my first solo. I've made vague allusioins to it in passing as "the taxiing incident" but never really expanded on that. Here it is then:

So picture the scene, an incredibly nervous WMAP (as I was then), who has just completed her first solo flight, despite her best protests.

She’s feeling nothing but relief that a) she managed to get the plane back in one piece and b) she can now go to the washroom.

24 isn’t her favourite runway and isn’t used that much, she’s not that familiar with it despite having just completed some circuits with Bob on it. To be honest when they taxied in she was too busy arguing with the demons in her head than paying attention to where they were actually going.
She’s completed her post landing checks and is currently at the point marked with an X on the following picture.

Question is, how does she get to “Y”?

Those of you with any aviation knowledge or indeed any common sense will spot that she needs to take a path similar to the one marked in black here, along the taxi lines.

However, those of you who know me, well it’ll come as no great surprise to you that what I attempted to do was follow the yellow path marked here.

I would like to point out that at the time there were no planes parked there at the time.

Just two fuel trucks.

Parked about just-slightly-more-than-a-wingspan apart.

I got about as far as the yellow line before ATC realised what was going on and issued the “FJES, STOP Immediately” command.

Yeah, even as I was doing it, I knew I’d messed up but in a surprising burst of confidence, I was actually fairly sure I could get it through that gap.

ATC weren’t having any of this and instructed me to remain still while they sent out someone to deal with me.

Luckily for me, Bob had obviously spotted what was going on and raced over to guide me through himself. I couldn’t make eye contact the entire time.

I was mortified. I had visions of this being my first and last solo flight ever. It kind of tainted my joy to be honest.

Bob, bless him, never mentioned it ever again. I’ve made tentative jokes about my sense of direction on the ground and he’s never once taken the bait.

I’m not sure if he even remembers.

I do!

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