It was a small plane, a C-150 (a little 2-seater), but it had wings, and I helped with take-off and steering, and we ascended and descended and did something to do with attitude and a whole bunch of other things I don’t remember the names for, and it was quite the experience!!!
Now, you may be wondering, "why would a teacher be interested in learning to fly?!"
Well, here’s the thing… After more than a decade in education, I have become a bit of an expert in my field (not that I don’t still have much more to learn about teaching and workshop facilitation, but the truth is that most people in my field that I deal with day to day are simply less good at what we do than I am now. That's not meant to be a derrogatory comment, just an observation. Many of the professional learning opportunities I have been made to attend over the past few years simply don't challenge me the way they did when I was new to this teaching gig. I guess it’s just a fact that comes with time, commitment, passion and experience in any profession. Teaching is my life’s work, and I’ve been doing it long enough and in such a precision-focussed manner that I have grown quite skilled at this thing we call teaching!)
So, to push my thinking to the next level, I thought it was time to begin learning something completely different. As someone who has flown commercially a fair amount, I have always been intrigued by how pilots and air traffic control people and all the others who make a flight happen work together. Reading a passage from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers about a year ago solidified this interest, as he examined the interpersonal dynamics that made an airline successful (or not so successful).
Apart from the personal dynamics around flying, I have a bit of an issue with science-related stuff. My dad was a nuclear physicist with Atomic Energy Canada, but he died when I was a baby, and I myself am not so science-minded. In fact, I try to avoid most things science, and have even traded off this subject as a teacher, preferring instead to teach math, reading, music… anything but science!
So, I figured pursuing my interest in the personnel aspect of flying might offer a somewhat more palatable manner of familiarizing myself with a little science.
Wow, am I ever in over my head!!!
The language spoken by the flight instructors and others at the Island Flight School in Toronto, where I will be studying, was completely foreign to me. As I sat in the waiting room before my first lesson, I realised that I didn’t understand about 50% of what they were saying to each other. Semantically, syntactically or graphophonically… the words and nuances didn't made any sense to me at all!!!
This leads to a third reason for pursuing my pilot’s license: It’s a humbling experience.
One of the downfalls of being good at what you do is that you can get a little (or in my case, a lot!) cocky or arrogant. One way to combat this is to learn something completely new and different: Although I made many, many connections to teaching and learning during my first flight lesson this morning, for the most part, I was a total moron: I know nothing about aviation, and everyone around me is – at this point – much smarter and better at it than I am! For me, that in itself is a new experience.
My grade 12 drama teacher wrote in a reference letter for me many years ago that I am “an eager learner and a quick study”. That’s true, but I am also getting older and slower. My neurons don’t fire as fast as they once did. Learning to fly is also, as my flight instructor’s mentor once told him, “not for peasants” (i.e. it costs a few bucks!), and we are trying these days to stay on a fairly rigid budget, so I will need to decide carefully how my limited dollars are spent. (For example, is a flying lesson really worth a pedicure and a facial?! Haha!)
So, while my initial enthusiasm is strong, the truth of the matter is, whether I succeed in completing the necessary ground school and in-flight hours to obtain my pilot’s license is still… well… “up in the air”. :D