Me: Hi, my name is Monkeybizness and it’s been a month since my last post.
Everyone: Hi, Monkeybizness!!
Last Saturday at 3pm, as I sat at the traffic lights reflecting on a delicious hamburger I had just inhaled, my phone alarm notified me that I was due to fly a plane. In 30 minutes. Crap – how did I find myself in this situation? (Do you like how I used the flashback device to make a mediocre, straightforward story marginally more interesting? How I met your mother anyone?)
The Excellent Missus bought me a flying lesson for Christmas. I booked early and promptly forgot all about it, so when my alarm went off it was the last thing on my mind. We smashed it out to Moorabbin airport and I rushed into the briefing session. Here is a picture of the model they used to demonstrate how planes work:
But not as inspiring as my next bit of news.
When I thing of pilots I think of grizzled middle-aged men with weathered faces and ice-blue eyes, who squint into the sun. Their gravel voices and slow drawl as they describe the upcoming flight inspire confidence and calm. So I was more than a bit concerned when it dawned on me that the 15-year-old Indian kid doing the briefing was also the pilot I’d be flying with.
Now just by way of background, all I knew about Indian pilots from Moorabbin airport was that one crashed a plane into the suburbs in August last year. Like I needed an extra adrenaline boost. The only way I could be more concerned would be if my co-pilot looked like this:
Anyway, with the briefing over, we strode out on to the tarmac in slow-motion. After checking the wings were attached (check!) I started up the plane, and I was left in charge.
My Indian co-pilot didn’t inspire me any further by furiously texting on his mobile phone as I taxied out for take-off.
I let the throttle right out, pulled back, and felt the plane take off. It was an amazing feeling – we were only a few metres down the runway and we were already in the air! The steering took a bit of getting used to, but I feel like I did okay. We flew down to Frankston and then looped back over the bay. As we came in to land again, I asked the tower for permission to do a fly-by. They said no, but I did it anyway because I’m a rebel who doesn’t play by the rules.
Nah, not really. But as we were coming in to land, my pilot wobbles his head from side-to-side and says, “Oh I think you’ve done very well today. Do you think you could land?”
Frankly I was surprised, but I didn’t want to look soft so I said, “Err, yeah, I guess I could.”
“NO! You can’t land the plane, it’s much too difficult. Don’t get so confident.”
Gee, thanks for putting me back in my box mate.
Just as the back wheels hit the ground, he decided to inspire me with one last crazy declaration: “I like to do a wheely and see how long I can keep the front wheel in the air when I’m landing.”
After about 150 metres the front wheel bounced on the tarmac and my Indian mate wobbled his head in disappointment.
On the other hand I was just happy we hadn’t planted the nose in a house in Cheltenham.
Flying is a pretty amazing experience, and it’s incredible how much you can throw a plane around without crashing it. Thanks Excellent Missus!