Today was one of the most important days of my life, my first flight. Its been almost two years since I have been struggling here on the ground. I have been watching aircrafts fly around and dreaming, waiting for my turn to come!!.
As I have said before, to fly is a privilege, not everyone gets it. So If I’m getting this privilege, the 2 years of suffering which I have gone through is worth it. Last two years have been a rollercoaster ride for me, mostly downs than ups, I made a few good friends though. Now these friends are almost like family.
The day of the first flight
So let me describe the day. My first flight session was scheduled at 1130am this morning. I woke up at 5am, got ready, didn’t wear my uniform as soon as I got ready though. I didn’t want to spoil the neatly ironed shirt and pant, which I got pressed the previous evening. Then, I went through some aerodynamics lessons and also a few videos and tips on the net on helicopter flying. I mumbled through the helicopter flying checklist at least 20 times this morning. I wanted to be totally prepared before I stepped into the cockpit, but never did I know that you can never fully prepare urself for your first flight.
By 0730am I left for breakfast in a hurry, and got back by 8 to get dressed and left my room by 0830. By 9, I was there in school eagerly awaiting for my instructor to come. I should tell you, I was going to fly with the CFI, and considering the terror he is, I am still excited. By 10am, I could see him coming from the old wooden windows of the pilot crew room, in his old ambassador. He got out, lit his pipe and went to his office. On seeing him, suddenly I sensed alot of fear. I had heard alot of stories from the other trainees. None of the stories had a happy ending. Anyway flying is more important, so fear takes the backseat.
Here we go..
After waiting for an hour, I was called to the CFI’s room. Last few times I was called there, wasn’t a great experience for me. With people congratulating and wishing me luck on the way, I walked to his room. The door was open, so I asked for permission to come in. Though I was asked to come in but not asked to sit. So I stood there and after taking a drag from his pipe he says, “Why are you here?”. I was pretty shocked to hear this. I thought,” am I not going to fly today”??!!. There was not a single soul left who I hadn’t informed about my first flight. I replied to him in a soft tone, “Sir, I have been scheduled to fly with you today”. He said, “Ok”. And I waited anxiously for more to come out of him, but well, that was it.
We walked towards the aircraft and I was expecting him to brief me about the flight or tell me something or at least wish me luck. I didn’t know much. And now I was scared. What is he going to expect out of me??. Will he ask me questions on aerodynamics?? Will he beat the shit out of me??. I gathered all my courage, sat in the helicopter, vomited out the checklist I had by-hearted and tightened my seatbelt and wore the headset.
He gave a call to HAL tower and requested permission to start the helicopter. This is the first time I heard a conversation with the ATC. I was in awe of the style and confidence with which he communicated with the ATC. On getting permission, he started the helicopter. I couldn’t believe this was really happening. Without looking towards me he asks, “Ready?”, I excitedly replied, “Yes sir”. That moment I had this thought, the millions of yes sirs I had said, has come down to this important yes sir!!.
In no time he lifted up the helicopter steadily and said, “This is called the hover”. He paused for a while and continued, “Its 5-10ft above the ground and your not supposed to move from here in any of the directions”. After a while of hover practice , we moved forward towards the runway and took off!!.
Up in the air!!
I should tell you, its the most beautiful thing that has happened to me. My struggle through the last two years has come to use now. When we stabilised 500 ft above the ground and started cruising, he said, “you have controls”. And I jumped in to take over.
He said, “use the stick in front of you to move forward, backward and sideways, use the stick below you to go up and down and use the pedals to change the direction of the nose”. It was too much going on for me. I was overwhelmed with the complexity. All the dials and the controls together. In between all this, I peaked out to see how Bangalore looked from 500ft, and it just took my breathe away. Cotton ball like clouds were dancing around us. People, vehicles looked like herds of ants moving around and buildings shined like stars below us. Around 15-20 minutes passed and I was slowly getting the hang of it. When my instructor said, “I have controls”. I replied reluctantly, “Yes sir”.
In no time, we came back and landed. I felt like an unsatisfied wife, left high and dry in bed, waiting to get some more.
We came back, landed and came back to the hangar. I wanted more desperately. I should tell you, flying is like drugs, once you try it, you will want more and more. We finished the paperwork related to flying and the CFI walked back into his office, without even looking at me or telling me anything about today. Anyway I don’t care!!. I was in the thrill of my first flight and I was going to announce my experience to the world.
Finally, flying made me realise one more thing, how insignificant and small we are. Looking down below, I could see a million lives, competing and struggling to leave behind footprints in the sands of time. And doesn’t matter how hard you try, we are so small, that our footprint will be washed away by time. So what I’m saying is, instead of running around trying to make money and fame, try to devote time to make yourself happier.