I got to fly a 2000 Cessna 172P, a small plane that holds 4 people. The plane had two sets of controls, like a driver's ed car, so if anything went wrong the instructor could override whatever stupid thing I was about to do. After walking me through the pre-flight checklist and inspecting the airplane to make sure nothing was wrong, we climbed in and started the engine. From here there was setting of instruments and getting clearance from the control tower for takeoff, which the instructor all handled. He had me taxi the airplane, using the rudder and brake pedals to steer the plane. I'm terrible at this, as I apparently have no coordination with my feet. It felt like when you first learn to drive, where you are overcompensating and the movements you make are too strong. After weaving drunkenly through the lane a bit, I managed to sort of line up the nose of the airplane with the center line, and we waited for final clearance from the tower.
Takeoff itself was relatively easy, I just had to point the nose down the runway and let the throttle go, and then eventually ease back on the control stick when the instructor said so. After a sharp bank right after takeoff, we headed over Pearl Harbor towards the mountains. The view was pretty amazing from up there, but I was too busy trying to keep the airplane level to really enjoy it too much. You definitely can feel every pocket of turbulance in a little airplane like that. Anyway, after that I made a few turns, we headed back towards the airport after what seemed like only a few minutes. Maneuvering in the air was actually a little easier, or maybe it's just harder to notice how bad it is in the air. It seemed like my banks at first were either too small or too big, but I think by the end I had started to get the hang of it a little bit.
After that I got to line up the airplane with the runway, cut the throttle and handle the flaps so that the nose of the airplane was basically pointed at the runway. To me, it seemed like were barrelling right towards the ground and that we would just plow right into it, but my instructor was totally calm, so I tried not to worry. After the ground seemed altogether too close, the instructor takes over and maneuvers the airplane so that we're hovering right over the runway, like it's the easiest thing in the world.
Driving home in my car seemed particularly banal after that.
Anyway, I am wondering what I should do. The first lesson is really cheap, which is why I was able to afford it. The actual lessons and the ground school kit which I would have to buy are quite expensive, and definitely not really in the budget at the moment. I was even considering taking out a loan to pay for it, but that's probably not the most prudent option, especially when I could probably wait and save for a few months. The problem is that they recommend going three times a week for lessons. They do offer lessons in the morning, so I could conceivably wake up and get an hour of training in before work twice a week, and then go once on the weekend in the afternoon. That all adds up pretty quickly. 35 hours is the minimum before you can earn the private pilot certificate, and then more training for the instrumentation certificate (so you can fly in clouds and at night) and the multi-engine certificate (to fly larger planes). Well, I guess I'll figure it out later. At the moment I have to concentrate on surviving until my next paycheck arrives.
I'd recommend checking out The Kleptones - From Detroit To J.A.