When Nicole said to me, “I want to learn how to fly” I thought to myself, “good for you.” Then she proceeded to tell me how WE were going to do it TOGETHER. That’s not what I had in mind.
“I know how to fly. I’ve been doing it for over a decade.” I said to her.
She laughed. “You’re a Navigator, that doesn’t count.”
Ralphie May says, when it comes to marriage, you can be right or you can be happy. So here I am at Ground School learning things that I already know. And I paid for this. I sit in a room with nine other people while the instructor (no less than a retired Navy Captain) explains the 4 forces of flight. Seriously? I am graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School, and the teenage kid sitting behind me just asked “what’s a vector?” This is embarrassing.
In 13 years flying different aircraft for the United States Air Force I have never once contemplated doing it from the front seat. I was content to sit in the back and be the navigator, drop the bomb, guide the missile, eat my lunch. To this day I can’t stay awake during air refueling, that’s nap time. Why on earth would I want to be the Pilot in Command (PIC)? ‘To make my wife happy’ is the correct answer.
So after 13 years, 50+ million miles, 118 countries, 24 time zones, 3000 hours flight time and 30 different aircraft I am going to learn how to fly as a civilian. We’re attending the Rocky Mountain Flight Training Center at Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs. It’s an Air Force sponsored “Aero Club” and functions as a FAA Part 141 school. Here’s the minimums of what we have to do:
35 hours of flight time (20 with an instructor)
35 hours of ground instruction
3 hours ‘cross country’
3 hours ‘night flying’
3 hours ‘instrument flying’
5 hours solo
Each of us will be doing this, on our own, at the same time, while the both of us try to hold down full time jobs as an active duty military officers neck deep in real world war fighting. What could go wrong?
Well, here’s short a list:
The airplane could stall, crash, have the wings fall off, hit a flock of birds, catch fire, get caught in a downdraft, run into another airplane, be covered in ice and fall out of the sky, slam into a 14,000 foot mountain (of which there are plenty around here) and the worst thing that could happen… she could be better than me at this. That’s not cool.