April 4th, 2011
While this wasn't my first flight up in a small plane, it was my first experience piloting a small plane. I read about a new flight school opening up in Sonoma where I live, the owner and instructor was a school mate of my son and the same age, which at the time of my first flight was 22, I was 51. I probably should have, but I didn't feel the least bit of apprehension jumping in the plane with him. I always knew him to be a very bright kid, and he exuded a certain confidence that made me comfortable. I was a little nervous about the idea of flying in such a small plane, in this case, a 1974 Citabria, but figured if it had been in the air for 40 years, it would probably make it another day. That's the thing about small planes, people tend to worry if they're old, but to me, that just means they must be very good, after all, if they weren't, they wouldn't be in the air today.
The flight that day was fantastic, 9am, fresh crisp air and clear blue sky with no discernible wind or turbulence…of course, I mistakenly thought it would always be that way, this is Sonoma after all. My young instructor took me up for an hour, and for most of that time, handed off the controls and talked me through some basic maneuvers, climbing, descending, turning and during the entire time, I never thought once about the fact that I was a mile off the ground, I didn't experience any motion sickness, my ears didn't pop from the changes in pressure, it all felt unnaturally natural, almost as if I had done it before.
It was a marvelous day, and upon landing, I assured him I'd be back at some point to take up lessons. I returned to work absolutely elated, as high as the plane was at 5000 feet, it was the single most exciting thing I had ever done. From that moment on, I knew I was going to find a way to take up flying, it was just a matter of time.