I wrote one of my favorite articles, Thy Youth is Restored Like the Eagle’s, in 2007. She found it four years later and posted a comment that got my attention. We fly the same magic carpet – the aerobatic Super Decathlon.
Christina secretly loved airplanes and longed to fly. She never considered actually realizing it. Then came a takeoff in a Cessna 172, on a beautiful morning in Southern California, with her partner at the controls.
She entered flight school. Before she soloed, she did unusual attitudes and spin training. That day, she posted her first comment here.
Pre-solo, I had my first taste of aerobatics during today’s unusual attitude/spin training in a Super Decathlon. After 5 spins, my CFI asked whether I wanted to do an inside loop – pick up speed, pull the stick, look to the side and off we go. Next was the aileron roll – sheer exuberance, a state out of bliss.
I stumbled upon your blog and wanted to tell you how inspired I feel by your writings that so wonderfully convey the magic of flying in all its different, invigorating and sometimes mildly scary facets.
Listen to her. You can hear the muted thunder of the Super Decathlon’s lyrical Lycoming engine, happily inverted. Underneath (if you listen hard), there is that giggle waiting to burst out.
Thanks for you great reply.
I’ll never forget kicking the rudder hard in a full power-off stall for the first time. Equal parts anticipation (here comes the spin, finally!!!), sheer terror and exhilaration as the wing tilts over and the ground comes into view, filling the windshield and ROTATING!!! Whoa. What BETTER way to understand the physics behind your control input. Adverse effects of rudder, here in their pure form.
My CFI (former military test pilot, my medicine man) demonstrated wing wash-out while the stall horn was screaming bloody murder (see, Christina, ailerons are still working)… ha ha… . Awesome sauce!
Where I scolded readers about missing stall training, she waxed poetic.
If I get too slow on approach, the hairs on my neck rise up. Stall horn on approach/take-off won’t trigger when I’m PIC. Pitching up in a stall? Not me. It’s a huge safety factor, not just because you learn how to recover from a spin, but once you’ve been in one and checked your altimeter before and after 1.5 rotations, you’ll do your very best not to get into one inadvertently.
Oh… the bliss of a loop… we should have a poetry slam about that… . I can’t decide what’s best about it… the vertical upline… the inverted portion… the vertical downline… can’t decide, can’t decide…
I have booked a 5h basic aerobatic class.
Flying is therapy for me, as well. The plane does not care if you’re wetting your pants, it still needs to be flown and rewards you with pure happiness and freedom.
Did you hear? A five-hour aerobatic class. She had it bad.
She works at MIT (geez), flies near Boston, and hails from Germany.
Your last entries, Norman’s around the world trip in a – gasp — gyrocopter (pretty stall-proof, that one, btw :-))), your personal D-Day, the TopGun entries by you and Carlo were all really awesome… and funny… and touching… it’s nice that the
obsessionpassion of flying is shared.
Because, oftentimes when I read your blog I feel like you’re talking from the bottom of my soul.
"The only part of my body that hurt was my jaw. The more Gs I pulled, the more my grin hurt! I earned confidence, seasoned with discipline, drizzled generously with fun!"
Yes, yes, yes… absolutely yes to that.
What is it about aerobatics, Tonet? It’s a celebration of being alive, the impossible and at the same time, does it not feel strangely natural to kick yourself into a spin and pull up into a blazing fast half Cuban Eight? Isn’t it flying in its purest form? It’s really hard to find the right words. Although, you do a pretty good job.
Last time we exchanged emails, you were very busy at work. I hope that in between, you find some time to fly.
After she flew her first aerobatic solo, she paid tribute to our instructors.
What’s truly wonderful is that Meynard, Marc and Tony (my principal aerobatic instructor) all fly in the most safe, rational, educational and disciplined manner. Pay attention to traffic, altitude, don’t overspeed or overstress the airplane. One slow roll after the other until they are truly pinpoint. Negative on the upline again? Grrr. Was that a one-turn or a one-and-a-quarter-turn spin? 40-degree or 45-degree upline?!?!?!!! And then one wheel landing after the other in choppy crosswinds until you are ready to sob (or curse in German).
There’s attention to detail here, a willingness to always hold yourself up to the highest standards, respect the airplane and avoid complacency like the plague. This is what flying with Tony is all about and I bet this is Meynard, too. Passionate airmanship, confidence, humility and ice-cold reason, a mental discipline directly producing the true joy of flying, the gift of wings, to speak with Richard Bach.
You head toward the ocean and line up with the beach. You roll around the immense horizon in a million shades of blue to inverted and feel the most profound gratitude of being alive.
I still want her to write for us here. I bet we would hear Enya.
She flew solo aerobatics last month. This young aviatrix now flies like a fighter pilot in unusual attitudes that would make 10,000-hour Captains pale. Stick and rudder, fabric and tail wheel, not a single autopilot button or knob in sight.
Watch for the G-forces, the checklist floating away, the grin bursting forth.
Posted from Bangkok, February 25, 2012
All photos and video on this post are courtesy of Christina Scheel and published with permission.
© Christina Scheel 2011