Saturday, January 19, 2008

Back in the air -- more or less

Flying can make you humble in a hurry, and there's no way to be a good pilot without, well, flying. A lot.

Today, I flew an airplane -- in this case, a Piper Archer -- for the first time in almost two years. After several weeks of weather delays, I finally got up to work on the flight portion of the BFR (biennial flight review), but more importantly, to begin knocking the rust off after a couple of years away from flying (vertigo problems, drop down a few pages and you can read about it if you didn't already know).

I've got a terrific flight instructor, Blaise Eisenbeil, and what I like best about him -- aside from his obvious talent -- is his insistence of flying properly. Not good enough... well.

You can't fly well being off for two years, but nonetheless, I sure wish I could have. But the departure was ragged, the steep turns -- never my strong suit -- weren't that good and where I use to be able to do jaw-dropping stall recoveries, I was only passable.

A couple of landings were, well, it would be charitable to say they were forgettable because you really can't forget bad landings... and then back to the barn.

What I got was a good glimpse of just how much work I need to do just to get to the point where I don't embarrass myself.

So this week I'll work with flight simulator to get some habits back in shape and then next Saturday, I'll go out and try to do better. Hopefully next week it won't be -6.

One thing: man, it's gotten expensive to fly in the time I've been away. Usually I rent a Warrior but one wasn't available. 1.3 hours and the fuel SURCHARGE was $63. Throw in about $5 for the sales tax to build the Minnesota Twins a new stadium, a few more bucks for the Metropolitan Airports Commission so they can give some money back to Northwest Airlines, which will give their boss another $26 million bonus, and it was a $250 1.3 hours.

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