Day Will Come
Since my first bunny hill flight over two years ago, I've been staring
up at the sky watching pilots soar to cloudbase, wondering when my turn to leave
the ground would come. Eventually,
I was able to scrape enough cash together to complete my tandem training.
During my first few tandem lessons─which were in bumpy air─it looked
like it would take forever to solo. Trying
to master the proper roll movements and minute corrections during tow in
turbulence seemed like they would take forever. Finally the day came, easier and sooner than I had expected.
I was given the go ahead by my instructor to fly my first solo─my turn had come. In
the winter, I'm a ski instructor for a Milwaukee area ski club, teaching mostly
8-17 year olds. At the beginning of
the season there are many new students, most who have never been on those long,
awkward skis strapped to their feet before.
When they arrive at the top, they stare down the hill with faces full of
uneasiness. The evening of May 27 (exactly one month after my 21st birthday), I
was one of those little boys─looking up at the big blue sky, nervous and excited. As I put on my
helmet and slid into the harness, the knot in my throat was growing bigger.
I went to hook-in to the glider sitting on the dolly.
As I was waiting for the tow plane to land, my brain was telling me go
for it, and my muscles were saying no. Then
the big moment came─I gave the OK for launch and the tow plane pilot jammed the throttle
forward. As I left the ground, so
did all the signs of anxiety that were inside me.
They were replaced with a big smile on my face as I thought about the
fact that I was finally doing this by myself (and that it was a lot cheaper than
a tandem!). My sense of achievement
was overwhelming. Learning other
sports is neat, but learning one that takes place in the skies, and where 100%
of the flight's success or failure lies entirely within your hands is what
really makes it unique.