As technology advances and the world gets seemingly smaller, more and more flights zip across the sky each day. Avid travelers are constantly slipping off their shoes, shoving their bags through x-ray machines and stepping through high-tech metal detectors before stepping onto planes and finding themselves halfway across the world in mere hours.
But no matter how many flights we take and how many adventures await us when we arrive at our destination, nothing compares to actually being the one flying the plane.
Learning to fly is a completely different experience than traveling. There are no baggage claims and cramped seats lacking legroom. Instead, you arrive at a tiny airport, meet your instructor and head out to a very, very small plane. You’d think there would be classrooms with whiteboards littered with physics formulas, a handbook full of things to remember and quizzes to make sure you retained what you learned, but reality is very different. You’re thrown into it.
Following a discussion on the mechanics of the plane and the physics of the wind flowing over the wings, you hop in, put on a headset and get a couple more verbal instructions. But that’s it—you’re ready to go.
Of course, the instructor does the takeoff, but once you’re in the air, there’s this heart-in-your-throat feeling that’s impossible to describe. It’s not the feeling of flying travelers are used to, but the feeling of being in the air and being in control.
While in the air, you’re not completely alone as a couple. The instructor is there as well. But with the headsets on, listening to other pilots and those on the ground converse with static in their voices, and looking down at the tiny houses, cities and sweeping landscapes below, you definitely feel far removed from everything around you. It’s a surreal experience that is pretty fantastic when you’re sharing it with someone you care about.
Coming Back Down
Once you return to the airport and have both feet planted on the ground, you’d think the experience would be over. Technically what you’ve learned is to keep a few little lines where they’re supposed to be and to move the controls as necessary. But learning to fly a plane is more emotional than it is technical—at least in the beginning.
If you plan to keep going with structured lessons, you’ll learn so much more. But the true beauty of learning to fly a plane together is the emotional connection you establish as your adrenaline is pumping. You’re experiencing something brand new together—something you may never have imagined doing before—and that’s an irreplaceable experience that you won’t ever share with anyone else.
While my flight experience was with South Coast Aeronautics at the Torrance Airport in California, there are aviation companies across the U.S. and beyond that are ready and willing to help you get up in the air. Find one near you to get started today and make sure you go in with an open mind, but your partner’s hand in yours.