My Flight Instructor Thinks I'm Retarded

i had my 3rd flight class yesterday. contrary to what i thought was going to happen, like, actual flying, we had an actual class.

don’t get me wrong, i learned a lot. but walking around a plane for an hour doing pre-flight checks is not nearly as exciting as taking off on my own for the first time (meaning hands-off instructor, me doing the flying). which is what i thought was going to happen. evidently that’ll happen next class. the only good thing about this is my class only cost me $72 (no fuel! hooray!) instead of $140.

either way. i learned a lot. and so did my instructor. will get there in a minute.

he taught me (again) all the parts of the plane. i sat quietly and listened, because i quickly realized he did not remember teaching me any of this 2 weeks ago. understandable–it’s flight school. i’m not the only one. and reiterating things is always good. because, for the life of me, i can not seem to remember the word AILERON. i don’t know why. the worst part is, when i try to think of the word, the only word that comes to mind is “areola”, and god forbid i ever spit that out instead.

he gave me the pre-flight check sheet, which includes things like making sure there is no obvious damage to the outside of the plane. checking all the lights (inside and out). checking the bonding strips and static wicks (these things are awesome, they literally “wick” electricity from the surface of the plane). making sure the brakes aren’t leaking fluid and that there is enough air in the tires. checking the fuel levels AND fuel contaminants. which was really neat, minus the fuel squirting out of the wing and going all over my sleeves. i got to climb on top of the plane and check the oil.

there was a lot more but i’m not going to go there.

basically, all the things you should do before driving your car, and then some. because, well, cars don’t have wings, and they don’t even have to be in great condition to drive from point A to point B.

if your car has a giant dent in the hood? fine. if your plane is all banged up? not so good.

the list is like 100 or so items long, and it takes a fielded pilot who’s done it at least a dozen times to be quick(er) at it. it took me about an hour. i’ll get there eventually. in about $6000 or so.

well, ricky (instructor) and i were walking around the plane. he’s quizzing me on things. i forgot aileron. and i forgot “flaps”. how can you forget the word flaps? i know what everything does and i know what it’s all for. as long as it’s not the other way around, i think i’m safe.

we start talking about the engine and he’s like, “do you know anything about engines?” i told him i have a basic understanding (i’m pretty good at figuring shit out) and i’d ask questions if i didn’t get it. so he starts going on about how every little thing works. literally. where all the knobs and controls in the cabin connect to the rods on the outside of the cabin (within the body of the plane). what every belt and gear is for, while pointing them out in the nose of the plane.

then he gets to the air filter. i’m pretty familiar with air filters. i know that when the one in my house gets clogged up, i can’t breathe worth a damn. and i know that when the one in my truck needs to be changed, my dad yells at me.

ricky asked me, “what’s the first thing you should check when you look at the air filter?” now, the air filter on the plane (this particular model of plane, i know nothing about any other plane) is outside and exposed. right on the front. my response was the most obvious one i could think of.

my response was, “MAKE SURE THERE’S NOT A BIRD IN IT!” apparently that was not the answer he was looking for but i think he felt bad and so he said that while it was inherently correct, you should check to make sure that it is white and looks clean. i maintain that if there was in fact a bird in it, it would not be white, nor would it be clean. so technically, i still win.

so then ricky asked me, “what happens when the air filter isn’t clean?” well, i have no idea. but i know that it’s not good. and i know the one in my house doesn’t allow me to breathe without inhaling a bunch of pet dander. i waited for him to answer instead of looking like an idiot again. his answer was a bit more complicated but basically if your air filter is clogged up you can get carbon monoxide built up in the cabin and you will suffocate and die in a horrible plane crash.

and that is bad.

but not nearly as bad as my reaction, because instead of being like “oh no, that’s terrible! i will always check my air filter”, i was like, “oh no, that’s exactly what happened to my hamster!” except not in a plane and more like in his cage, and not because he didn’t have a decent air filter, but because our furnace leaked while we were out to eat and i came home to him belly up and could do nothing but cry to my dad saying, “PEPE’ IS DEAD!”

not quite the response he was looking for. and i don’t think he’s fully convinced that i understand the grave importance of having a clean air filter in an airplane. next class, i’m going to let him do the talking. i’ll do the flying. and that will be that.