#179 & 180: Fly a Plane & Experience Weightlessness

I'm a pilot!

I’m a pilot!

LOCATION: Tidewater Flight Center. Chesapeake, VA.

            Ever since I created this list, the opportunities for things have been pouring in. Maybe I just didn’t notice all this stuff before and the list really puts it in front of me. I’m not sure, but these opportunities are great! I never knew that anyone could take a discovery flying lesson. I thought to fly a plane, I would have to become a pilot. This would obviously mean lots of time and money. So, when I put “fly a plane” on my list, I really didn’t see that happening so soon. Then, groupon put out a deal for a 1 hour discovery flight lesson.

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I made it to the Tidewater Flight Center for my lesson and was greeted by my instructor Julie. She was a young French woman and had learned how to fly two years ago. We would be flying a Diamond DA-20, and man was it extremely tiny! The first 15 minutes of the lesson was spent going over the controls. There was a throttle, which made the plane go slower or faster. The yoke, which was the joystick type controller that makes the plane go up and down. There were various dials to watch for speed and altitude and there were two foot pedals to guide you while taxing and landing.

The yoke and controls

The yoke and controls

Next, it was time to practice driving the aircraft. To drive, you solely use the foot pedals and move the plane left and right to get it to go straight. I was horrible at that, just horrible! The smallest movement made the plane go far right or far left. I could not keep it straight at all. Finally, she helped me with the pedals and said we would take off. I assumed when I was doing the lessons that she would do everything and I would fly around once in the air. But, Julie’s philosophy was “you do everything. I’ll correct what needs to be corrected.” Therefore, I was able to do the take off! We taxied the runway until she told me to pull back on the yoke. Away we went! I WAS FLYING!!! We leveled off around 3500 feet and flew around the area.

View from the plane

View from the plane

Julie asked if I wanted a smooth touristy ride, or a fun rollercoaster one. I obviously said rollercoaster. She said that we would simulate an engine stall. To do this, she would cut the engine. She asked if I was ready and I shook my head yes. She cut the engine and immediately the plane started to shake and beep loudly. Then, after a few seconds, we were headed straight down in a 90 degree angle. She then turned the engines back on and leveled the plane off. While that happened, we managed to get to weightlessness and I lifted out of my chair. For that brief moment of weightlessness all I could feel was heaviness in my stomach like I was sinking down but being raised up all at once. I don’t know how she functioned because all I could do was cringe. But, it was so much fun! And, I was able to just cross off experience weightlessness in the process! We did some other fun maneuvers in the air such as barrel rolls and more stalls before it was time to head back to the airport for landing. We circled the runway and she cut the engine and had me glide us down. My experience was over, but would never be forgotten. This was amazing.

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?: Yes! This was great!

HOW TO DO THIS: Tidewater Flight Center offers a Discovery Flight option http://tidewateraviation.com/chesapeake/index.html

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