Friday, May 20, 2016

MIAO: Kicked Out of the Nest!

Fly, little birdie, FLY!

Pilots: Do you remember your first solo?  Of course you do.  It became a turning point in your aviation story.  For the first time, you were totally in control.  For better or worse, the safe completion of the flight was wholly your responsibility, without the safety net of your instructor sitting next to (or behind) you. 

The funny thing is, you might be solo but you're never alone.  It's a lot like those insurance commercials that have been making the rounds on the radio.  Sure, you're technically the only person in the airplane, but those tidbits of advice stick with you.  I can still hear my instructors, Steve and Kandace, repeating "baaaaaack . . . baaaack . . . back . . . back, back, back-back-back-back" as I fumbled through learning to flare.  Those voices don't go away with time.  I remember how they'd alter the cadence (and occasionally urgency) as I unceremoniously plopped the Cub on the ground.  As I grew in my fledgling abilities, they got quieter and quieter, until the fateful day when Kandace turned around and said, "So, the only question now is, do I get out here or do I make you take me to the hangar to drop me off?"  I'm told my expression suitably resembled a deer in the headlights. 

The feeling of responsibility, coupled with that unique elation of "Look mom!  No instructor!," is a sensation closely linked to experiences where you have gained some knowledge, have some excitement, but have not yet stepped into that brave new world of self-sufficiency.  I'm about to get a whole new taste of that this weekend.

I hear this part is sort of important--and it looks like I'm going to have to remember how to string rib stitches together!  I'm looking forward to getting the Cub's freshly covered rudder signed by friends and family just like I did before I peeled the fabric off in January. 

Before my travel whirlwind started in March, the Oklahoma Kid's new ($$$) stabilizers were covered.  Her elevators needed some repair, which was accomplished last weekend, which meant they were ready to cover.  Mark at Dakota Cub had to spend some time reminding me what step was next as I had forgotten some of it over the six weeks the project had lain dormant.  It was, however, encouraging and exciting to see how the process of covering the elevators went more smoothly than covering the stabilizers.  The actions required were just a little more familiar--just enough so, it seems, that Mark has decided it's my job to cover the rudder without his hovering.

Yes, I'm getting kicked out of the nest!  I'm alternately excited and nervous about putting all of the things he has taught me into practice.  I suppose you can always cut your mistakes off and start over if it's bad enough--and if not, it will be good for a story when the Oklahoma Kid is out flying again.  I'm headed out to Dakota Cub tonight to get started . . . stay tuned.


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