August 28, 2013
byÂ Brian Lansburgh
At fifteen, sheâ€™s one of the youngest students I’ve taught. Â Predictably, she learns fast. Â Couple that with a lot of natural ability and interest and you’ve got a student who is great fun for a teacher.
Her father flies and uses his Bonanza for business. Â Her mother is taking instruction as well. Â 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. Â Perhaps itâ€™s because sheâ€™s so naturally adept. Â 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. Â 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. Â As we neared our home airport, we heard another aircraft approaching. Â Its pilot announced that he was a Beechcraft Bonanza and was five out, inbound. Â It was her father. Â 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. Â I texted, â€œBoth husband and daughter are inboundâ€.
The two were delighted to be in the pattern at the same time. Â I was, too. Â They discussed who would land first. Â When her dad asked what her instructor wanted to do, I wouldnâ€™t answer. Â In my opinion, the process of learning to fly is simply the gradual transfer of responsibility from the flight instructor to the student. Â 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.
We were closer and we fly a tight pattern, so it was decided that weâ€™d land first. Â Her fatherâ€™s delight at that decision was evident to me. Â 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. 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. 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 wasn’t so much â€œclear of the activeâ€ as it was, â€œok, Dad, itâ€™s your turnâ€. Her Dad replied, â€œNicely doneâ€.
I couldâ€™ve wept. Iâ€™m such a sap.