Staking My Claim

There is an art, or rather a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. – Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

After reading the first few posts of Rich’s, it has become clear to me that this blog is going to be more about the ins and outs of flying instead of a blog by the two of us. I figure that I have two choices: let Rich take the ‘yoke’ and let him blog about something he truly loves, or start adding my two cents. Anyone who’s ever met me, knows that I can’t stand back and keep my big mouth shut, so… here goes!

I am not able to add to the technical aspect of flying, but I can certainly comment on the experience factor from a non-pilot point of view. When Rich began flying, I was seriously concerned. Not for his or our safety, but because I have problems with motion sickness. There was never any doubt that Rich could safely operate a small engine aircraft, but weather or not I would have my head buried in one of the many air sickness bags that Rich has been collecting from major airlines during every flight. Through the magic of dramamine, I am able to eliminate most of the unpleasant symptoms of motion sickness, however, if I ever get my pinch hitter’s certification (more on that later), I can’t be under the influence of any drug, even if it’s keeping me from loosing my lunch all over the cockpit.

As Rich’s co-pilot, my responsibilities are very clear: hold the map and navigate, keep an extra eye out for possible ‘traffic’ and KEEP MY HANDS OFF THE CONTROLS! I have no problem with any of these duties and I particularly enjoy the navigation role. I am a long time cartophile and love any and all maps. I think I officially earned the title when I realized that I sleep with an atlas beside my bed. My navigator job began almost 22 years ago when we got married. On a road trip to Rich’s grandmother’s house in Muncie, Indiana, a trip he’d taken for more than 20 years, I foolishly fell asleep and we ended up in Indianapolis. Now, it really was only about an hour out of the way, but I immediately realized that my husband literally needed me to tell him where to go!

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After completing several flights, I concluded that I’ve gotten used to the minor bumps and pitches that planes make and have only had sickness problems occasionally upon landing. ‘Oh, is that it?!’ you may ask. Yes, it is still a problem and certainly isn’t the best time since landing is fairly important, but it’s certainly better than dreading every flight due to sickness, or worse yet, avoiding flying altogether. This is where the afore mentioned ‘pinch hitter certification’ comes into play. It essentially would prepare me to take control of the plane if for some reason Rich would become unable. In short, I would need to learn how to take control of the plane, call for help and land the plane and ourselves, safely. Since flying is Rich’s passion and not mine, needless to say, this scares me to no end! Riding in a plane and flying a plane take two totally different sets of nerves as far as I’m concerned. Of course, I know how to drive a car and would take over if need be, but when you’re 4,000 feet above the asphalt, this poses a bit more anxiety. The jury is still out on whether or not I will receive the training and due to my back surgery, it will have to wait a couple of more months, but I know it would be the smart thing to do. Perhaps my motion sickness would disappear if I were faced with the option to land the plane or crash into the side of a mountain. Time will tell.

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