In Episode 6, it’s finally time to see if our hero is ready to go for his license. A pre-flight test is arranged and—for the most part—things go well. Which is not to say that the exercise goes without a surprise … and a most unexpected ending (which may, or may not, have actually happened)!
A pilot’s first solo cross-country flight is usually rather exhilarating in and of itself. With the instructor on the ground, it’s the first opportunity to actually go somewhere … alone. In this episode of “Those Thrilling Years,” our hero confidently departs Buttonville for Peterborough, as enthusiastic and proud of his new skills as any student pilot ever was. What he encounters 30 minutes into the flight though, would make even a seasoned aviator sweat!
Pilots tend to focus on their first solo flight as the event that changes everything. There’s an argument to made though that the real milestone is when you simply take the controls for the first time, and experience the thrills of controlling an airplane for yourself. A lifelong aviation fanatic, François Dumas was pretty excited when he took his first flight—in a jet—in 1985. But when he actually got some stick time in an Aviasud Mistral ultralight a few years later, well … that was really flying!
When we last left our hero in Episode 3 he was reeling from a brush with acrophobia during his first flying lesson. In this story, he stares down a different demon—stalls. He then discovers that while flying itself is thrilling (and not as scary as he thought), the places it takes you are often the real reward … if you can find them!
It’s a rare airplane story that’s told from the perspective of the airplane itself. This terrific story by Robert Bach is rare in other ways, too. His words will gently grab your imagination, transport you back in time, and then take you forward through the years alongside a certain TravelAir 4000. If you don’t already believe that airplanes are living breathing beings with hearts and souls, you will …
The problem with turning big dreams into reality is that reality is never quite like what we imagine it will be. In the case of a wannabe pilot’s first flight, the experience can be wonderful … or terrifying . If you’ve ever taken a bold leap only to find yourself asking, “What the hell was I thinking?” you’ll identify with Glenn Norman as he recounts his first—humbling—flying lesson.
It’s not often you find an airline pilot whose skill in a cockpit is balanced by creativity and eloquence behind a keyboard. We believe we’ve discovered such a talent in Scott Burris, and we’re happy to present his first Why Fly contribution to you. It’s the stirring retelling of his first solo flight—in an ultralight—at an age you won’t believe!
When Glenn Norman bought a steal of a 1955 Piper Tri-Pacer in 1994, he intended to fix it up to resell at a profit. It took a few years for this pilot with an “extreme tailwheel bias” to admit he actually liked flying “the best-kept secret in aviation.” His epiphany came during an uncharacteristically utilitarian trip from point A to point B, in which he learned that while a Tri-Pacer is no jet … speed is relative.
If a lineboy tells you he’s pumping gas and hauling boxes to get his foot in the door, he’s only telling you part of the truth. The rest has to do with the sights, sounds, and smells he gets to experience on the job … alluring hints of what’s to come. Journey with Robert Bach back to Corpus Christi in 1931 for a real nice story of aviation love at first sight.
The higher you climb, the more you can see. Climb high enough at night, and you just might come across a few old friends too. Aviation meets astronomy in this short, stirring story by David Cechanowicz.
In Part Two of Glenn Norman’s cautionary tale of an ultralight crash, what goes up finally comes down … and it isn’t pretty. After a disorienting inverted journey back to earth (and a trip to the hospital) our hero finds himself wondering, “What now?” The surprising answer comes two days later aloft in a borrowed Cessna 150. Sometimes, he learns, it takes almost losing everything to realize what matters most.
A story can take a reader any where, anywhen it likes. One cold winter night Rob Bach sat down at the keyboard and typed out this story, which is guaranteed to transport you to Blakesburg, Iowa on a hot summer day. Flyins (and memories of flyins) are like that.
A hiker stumbles upon a tin-roofed shack and takes a journey back through the years in this soul-stirring short story by Bette Bach-Fineman.
When Glenn Norman warns “Don’t try this at home” in the preamble to this first “Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear” story, he means it both figuratively and literally. “Many of my early flying tales were pretty irresponsible,” says Glenn. Nobody would disagree, reading many of his up-coming “episodes.” But in this case, wow … what a story!
On a cold winter night, David Cechanowicz climbs into his Piper Saratoga in search of warmth and a moment to make it all worthwhile.
We typically have no say in what our nicknames are. Glenn Norman received his at the start of the “1927 Trans-Continental Air Dash (of 1972).” The incident involved an airplane (a bunch of them, actually), but on the ground. Add a bull-headed Air Force Base Commander to the mix and you have the beginnings of a great story.
Steve Roberts believes pilots should begin their flying careers in gliders. Apart from teaching you how to fly with some subtlety, you’re never really sure where you’ll end up. The results are often unexpected, as you’ll read in this humorous tale.
In her first Why Fly column, Michelle Goodeve takes her Pietenpol on a short sunset flight over the small rural hamlet she calls home. Back on the ground, in a flash of epiphany, her airborne “other self” is given a new name.