I am most definitely thinking about writing more, and more story-like, and possibly aviation related posts on this blawg.
So maybe this wayback wednesday thing may not be weekly but I will try. It could be about anything I try to recall from my past, hence the name, whether aviation related or not.
But this one is, so enjoy.
Date: June 12, 2008
Lesson Plan: I.2
Aircraft: Cessna 172S
Flight Time: Shortest 1.0hr of my life.
Just a quick background info, although this is the first flight, we have been fortunate to have completed Phase 0 first. Phase 0 included everything from attitudes and movements to stalls to circuits to go arounds….in the simulator. Before we even got to touch an airplane.
It was probably around 2 O’clock in the afternoon when I finally got a call. All right, I was scheduled but sometimes my instructor switched things around to best accommodate for his other students who was close to their PPL flight test. Nevertheless I had prepared myself, studied, completed the numbers about an hour and a half before scheduled departure time. It wasn’t too hot of a day, and I could remember it being clear skies or at best, few to scattered clouds, winds from the south not too strong.
We sat in the classroom just before the flight to talk about what we were gonna do, a good flight stretches from a good pre-flight briefing. I had already done the walk-around and was ready to go, after a few minutes of talking, we signed the sign out sheet and ready to blast off. I had previously removed the chocks and put them in the compartment in the back and was sitting patiently for my instructor as he made his slow walk towards the airplane, casually ‘bumping’ into other instructors and having a quick jabber.
I do all my checks prior to and after the engine start, which included writing the most recent ATIS (Automatic Terminal Information Service), which had the most up-to-date weather information, and said the appropriate takeoff and emergency briefings. All the checklists and SOP (standard operating procedures) I had previously done in the simulator, was coming to life, under the watchful eye of my instructor. A while later we were off to the races.
“GSEQ Left turn out (north) clear takeoff runway 15″
I acknowledge the clearance and slowly added power. I was doing the takeoff for my first flight since I had done it in the sim, but I could tell he was on the edge of his seat, ready to take control when need be. He didn’t need to. After 1000 above the ground, and in the air, I made a left turn to head northbound. All other turns in all other runways were minimum 500, this was different due to noise abatement. 5 miles north we were clear of the zone and started step climbing up to 4000 ft, making sure to stay under the rings of the TCA (Terminal Control Area) that extended about 30 miles from Toronto International (YYZ).
This lesson was all about attitudes and movements, climbs, descents, and gentle turns. This was my very first flight in a small airplane. I remember being amazed at the view, and how quickly things started to look different: the roads, cars, and houses all looked miniature from up here. After 30 minutes of flight, we did most of the exercises so he intended to demonstrate a few. I had been in control of the airplane from takeoff until then since nothing was really new to me. It wasn’t a terribly bumpy day, he wanted to show me some steep turns.
“Okay” I excitingly said.
He turns to the left then to the right, 45 degrees angle of bank, makes a position report call. After a few turns we were done and time to head home. That was quick, I thought as I started preparing for landing which included getting weather information, which has not change since takeoff. Down to 2000ft ASL, we were just approaching the highway below that went north-south and directly by our airport. The bumps were more at this lower altitude. I remember feeling a bit nauseated. My stomach cringed.
“Uhh I don’t feel so well…”
“Okay do you want me to take control?”
I nod and keep quiet. He tells me to look forward and try to put air to my face, I did. He starts shuffling around looking for an air sickness bag. He checks his side pocket, then his glove compartment, then the pockets on both our seats behind us. No joy. He tells me to check my side pocket, nothing. As the feeling got worse he asked me if I was gonna throw up, I gave a quick nod and a “uh huh” or maybe it was more of a “mhm”.
“Okay lift up your mic, open the window and go…”
I didn’t need him to finish, I knew what he meant. I follow the instructors instructions without saying a word, and…
There wasn’t a lot of it, but already too much. Some went to the side of my face, little inside the airplane on my side, and some outside on the fuselage. I lost my cheap sunglasses on the way too.
When I finally gathered my wits and wiped my face, we were in the control zone, he was being sequenced to final approach behind one or two other traffic. He does the landing, rightfully so. And taxis part way back from our normal parking spots. How nice of him I thought as we shut down the airplane and I read off the checklist. He gets out and tells me to just clean up and we can push the airplane to our spot later and we’ll talk inside.
“Thanks” I said.
I finish off the checklist and clean the inside and outside of the airplane. I left the windows open to air it out, poor student after me.
When we were inside he asked me what I had for lunch. It was a Wendy’s spicy chicken meal with Coke. The culprit. Ever since that very first flight I learned two things.
1. Don’t eat a big meal, especially spicy one, very close to your flight.
2. Always, always, always, always carry a sick bag. There might not be one in the airplane.
I took those lessons to heart and have never strayed away from it ever since, perhaps it can be a lesson I’ll tell someone else in the future, before the act does an encore in another form.