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By Brian Lansburgh who is based at 6K5,Â Sisters Eagle Air Airport, Sisters, Oregon. A CFI who specializes in tailwheel instruction, Brian donates his time and aircraft every year to instruct one LadiesLoveTaildraggers Scholarship winner.
At fifteen, sheâ€™s one of the youngest students Iâ€™ve taught. Predictably, she learns fast. Couple that with a lot of natural ability and interest and youâ€™ve got a student who is great fun for a teacher. Â
Her father flies and uses his Bonanza for business. Â Her mother is taking instruction as well. Aviation has served as a major influence, binding this already close family with its all-encompassing nature.
I give her a hard time about the radio. Perhaps itâ€™s because sheâ€™s so naturally adept. It has surprised me how quickly that small thumb presses the transmit switch and her transmissions efficiently communicate her intentions to traffic or ATC. Â After dealing with so many students who were terrified of that little red button, itâ€™s rather refreshing to see this relatively small part of learning to fly put in its rightful place. I still give her a hard time because she sounds like sheâ€™s twelve years oldâ€¦ I always wonder if others, hearing her squeaky little voice, wonder just who that is in that little Cessna 140.
We had just finished a mini cross country to help get her out of familiar patterns for a while as well as to familiarize her with all the local airports. As we neared our home airport, we heard another aircraft approaching. Its pilot announced that he was a Beechcraft Bonanza and was five out, inbound. Â It was her father. I nodded at her and she made her inbound call after chirping, â€œHi, Dadâ€.
Iâ€™d told her mom that Iâ€™d text her when we were inbound so she could drive over and pick her up. I texted, â€œBoth husband and daughter are inboundâ€.
The two were delighted to be in the pattern at the same time. I was, too. They discussed who would land first. When her dad asked what her instructor wanted to do, I wouldnâ€™t answer. In my opinion, the process of learning to fly is simply the gradual transfer of responsibility from the flight instructor to the student. This was a perfect opportunity to demonstrate just how much responsibility had actually been transferred. Â I would make no transmissions, just a little coaching on the intercom. Â
We were closer and we fly a tight pattern, so it was decided that weâ€™d land first. Her fatherâ€™s delight at that decision was evident to me. It would give him the chance to observe her approach and landing from a great seat in the balcony.
She swooped in with a very accurate power-off approach followed by a good flair into a classic three-point landing. Â I advised her to expedite her roll out because there was a Bonanza behind her. We taxied off the runway but before we headed through the woods to the hangar she made the clearing call. Â I normally eschew that call because, as I tell all my students, â€œRay Charles could see that youâ€™re no longer on the runway.â€ But this was different. This wasnâ€™t so much â€œclear of the activeâ€ as it was, â€œok, Dad, itâ€™s your turnâ€. Â Her Dad replied, â€œNicely doneâ€.
I couldâ€™ve wept. Â Iâ€™m such a sap.