Anyway after decades of sulking, I’ve finally decided to live the dream and started some flying lessons at Advantage Aviation out of Palo Alto (PAO). OK, so a Cessna 152 isn’t the RAF Tornado of my dreams, but its a start. Here are some first impressions after my first lesson:
- Planes are small – ease off on the pizza, and choose a trainer you get on with
- Taxi’ing is like controlling a tank (left pedal – turn left, right pedal – turn right)
- Taking off is easy – get clearance, point down the runway, adjust flaps, up the throttle, speed up to 65-ish, and then pull back slightly (not too hard … loops on take off are a bad idea)
- Staying level – this seemed to be a continuous balancing act, adjusting the throttle, angle of attack (ascent), trim … I’m told it will become as easy as riding a bike … we’ll see …
- Instrument overload – talk about my brain working overdrive! Speed, height, ascent/descent indicator, heading, fuel guage, not to forget continuously scaning ahead of you (a common error of new pilots is to spend too long looking inside the cockpit).
- Landing is hard – much harder than taking off, but not as hard as you might think, thanks to the VASI lights at the side of the runway. These help you stay in the optimum glide path by changing colour depending on your height (one red, one white is optimal, two white too high, two red – too low).