Love at First Flight
ALLIANCE — Patty was my first female student. We did the pre-flight together. I always shake the wing hoping it will not fall off. We did the briefing about winds and the famous horizon where the sky meets the earth, and then I proceeded to explain that we will depart from here (tapping the earth with my foot) to up there (pointing at the eastern sky) and then return back to here in a safe and sane manner.
We did the cockpit check after fastening our seat belts and harnesses. As my first female student, Patty seemed to be pleased that I carefully adjusted the shoulder harness so it would be exactly one fist away from her frontal area. I will not bore you with the taxi out, run-up and take-off. I always let the student follow through with me on the controls, and I release them to the student as quickly as possible. With Patty, I did this at about 20 feet above the ground.
She had a gentle touch on the controls, and I explained that to climb over the wires at the end of the runway, she should bring her nose up a bit.
I glanced over to my left at Patty, (we were in a Cessna 150) and sure enough, her nose was way up and her head was tipped back so she was actually flying while looking through her bifocals. I grinned a bit and explained to pull back on the wheel to bring up the airplane’s nose.
The rest of the lesson went by quickly, straight and level, turns, climbs, descents, and then back into the airport traffic pattern. To make a longer story shorter, we were on the downwind leg turning base when a bird appeared ahead of us. I said, OK, PEEL OFF!!! Oh boy, did I get a surprise that day. More next time, including my wife’s response.
— Forrest Barber is an instrument rated commercial pilot with airplane single- and multi-engine land and sea ratings. He is also a helicopter pilot and airframe and powerplant mechanic. He and his wife Patty manage Barber Airport in Alliance, Ohio. Barber recently celebrated 50 years of flying.