Taking Training to Heart
How important is good training? Over the years, I’ve learned it’s pretty vital in most areas of life. But I got the most eye-opening lesson regarding this when I was 18.
I had decided I wanted to learn how to fly. From the start, in so many ways, this was a bad idea. My instructor, though from a reputable and admirable organization, just wasn’t that into it. That should have been my first clue — as far as trainings go, when you’re learning to fly a plane, you really want the instructor to be super committed.
But I did love it, so I stuck with it, and I was excited when it came time for my first solo round-trip flight between Orlando and Daytona Beach. Here I was, flying all alone, marveling at the beautiful scenery and truly enjoying life … until I had to contact the airport. My instructor had not taught me about the instruments on the plane — just the basics, like how to tune the radio to the airport I was heading to.
My transmission went something like this: “Daytona Beach Airport, this is a student pilot asking permission for a touch-and-go.” This is what I heard: “XWA787, you are free to do a touch-and-go on runway blah blah.” This was my first clue that I did not have adequate training. Bewildered, I responded: “Where is runway blah blah?” After a long pause and a noticeably different tone, he responded, “It’s the short runway next to the two long runways.”
That I understood … or so I thought. But here’s what I saw: two long runways, one shorter runway parallel to the longer runways, and one really short runway perpendicular to the long runways. (I soon found out that that really short runway was the taxiway.) Guess which one I took?
Within seconds of my touch-and-go — which I was pretty proud of, I might add — I heard “XWA787, what are you doing?!?!” He did not seem as proud. I answered, “You said the short runway!” He answered, “Not that short runway! Please take a left and get out of my airspace!”
Not surprisingly, I never went on to get my pilot’s license.