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Flying: The Experience of Becoming a Pilot

Arturo Bartolomé Asín from Spain

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Photo from Arturo Bartolomé Asín
On the first day, the instructor gave me the control of the plane. It was terrible. I couldn’t believe it. I was flying a plane in the middle of the sky at 3000 feet.

 

Flying is one of the most exciting experiences that I have ever had. When I arrived in the United States in January, I had no plans to attend a course, but for a number of reasons I began a course to learn to be a private pilot.

I had a lot of trouble at first. The language problem, the fear of new experiences and my lack of trust were the first problems.

The first three classes were terrible. The plane was a Cessna 152, a model from the year 1976. I had the idea that planes were like cars. I though that an old plane was dangerous as an old car. I was wrong. In fact, I saw a DC-3 model from the thirties, which is flown every day. I mean that it is not important if the plane is old.

 The problem was that I didn’t understand this fact until later. I remember that on the first day of class, the day was windy. I sat on the right and the instructor sat on the left. The instructor gave me the control of the plane. It was terrible. I couldn’t believe it. I was flying a plane in the middle of the sky at 3000 feet. Because there was a lot of wind, the plane was moving too much.

The two first landings with the Cessna were horrible. The little plane hit the ground and I thought that the gear had broken. When I was working in Spain, I used to fly a lot. The landings with big airplanes from big companies were extremely smooth. However, the landings with the Cessna are a little strong.

Arturo standing at the plane
Photo from Arturo Bartolomé Asín
You have to do all the procedures in the plane in sequential order and you have to follow all the steps and stages. If you don’t do these basic things, you could have serious problems.

 

In the second lesson, when I believed that I had passed the worst stage, the instructor tested me because he wanted to know if I was courageous enough to begin the preparation. He deliberately did some stalls and different maneuvers in the air. I was extremely afraid, but I didn’t say anything.

I remembered the first time that I drove a car or I piloted a motorcycle. I couldn’t remember very well, but probably I was afraid also. By the third lesson I was asking myself if I really wanted to do this, but fortunately, I decided to continue the course.

The second big problem was the language. When I started the course in March, I had been in Houston for two months. My English skills were very limited. The instructor had a strong Texan accent, and for those reasons I didn’t understand anything.

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Photo from Arturo Bartolomé Asín
You have to do all the procedures in the plane in sequential order and you have to follow all the steps and stages. If you don’t do these basic things, you could have serious problems.


 

After twenty flying hours, I began to understand something, but that day he explained what to do if the engine stops. I told him that I understood everything (it was not true), and he pulled the gas.

At that moment, when the plane began to descend, I realized that I hadn't understood anything. Now I have a new instructor. I hope the explanations will be better.

Moreover, this is not the only problem I have with the language; I have to speak onthe radio. I can resolve this problem memorizing all the procedures, but the real problem is that I have to understand the other people who speak over the radio. They use a logical and international code, but it is very difficult to understand them. If they say a number, I have to think which number it is. At the same time that I am thinking about the number, they give more important information. Today I understand more than the first day, but I have to understand all the information.

Flying is a big deal. The costs in United States are lower than in Europe. In the United States there are more facilities. There are a lot of different airports and it is not a snob activity like in Europe.

The different feelings of power and control in an airplane are different from the feelings you get in a car. You realize that if you want to fly safely, you have to do the pre-flight (control and check of the plane), you have to watch the weather and the forecast, and you have to do everything in order.

The last thing is the most important thing, you have to do all the procedures in the plane in sequential order and you have to follow all the steps and stages. If you don’t do these basic things, you could have serious problems. Anyway, flying is safe. Human error in plane catastrophes is 75 per cent. This fact explains how to avoid problems. You have to follow all the rules.

I have to complete my flying training. Now, I have fly for 25 hours. I need fourteen hours to take the pilot license and sixty hours to be more efficient. If I can resolve the language problem and my innate lack of orderliness, I hope that the next summer, I will be a proud private pilot.

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