“I don’t have the nerve to land”

A woman registered recently on LadiesLoveTaildraggers and her honesty caught me off guard. She didn’t beat around the bush or try and water it down and make excuses; she was just really honest and wrote, “I don’t have the nerve to land.” Wow, now that’s REAL. She loves to fly but the act of landing the airplane is just too scary for her. Coming from a long history with aviation sorts, I’ve noticed that flying airplanes and honest discussions don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. After all, when you’ve got a bunch of Type-A pilots shooting the breeze (or should I say “bull”) about their adventures in the air, fessing up that they’re afraid of anything just doesn’t happen. So with that mindset, when I read her “bare your soul” comment about her fear, it really struck me.

 Linda Winters & her Cessna 170

I met Linda Winters last Fall at her very own “Winter’s Airport Fly-in” after she sent me an email invitation. It’s a mere 43 miles from where I’m based but its a private farm strip and, not knowing a woman was based there, I’d never been there.

North end of Linda Winters Airport, 1600′, 0II9. Note the wires if you ever fly in

Linda says: “I have the airplane (Cessna 170A), the runway (Indent: 0II9), and the dream; but, I don’t have the nerve to land! Even so, “I Believe I Can Fly”. One day I will fly my Cessna 170 to the Ladies Love Taildraggers Fly-in!

My husband and I raised our boys with many family trips in our airplane. I’ve been active in EAA and their Young Eagles program since 1994. It’s exciting to see a young person get hooked on flying. They are the future of GA.

Every year since 1996 I have hosted a Fly-in here at Winters Airport (www.WintersAirport.info). It’s the 3rd Saturday in September…..and there are always room for more airplanes so come on over. It’s just fun to hang out and look at airplanes, especially taildraggers.”

Watching the planes fly

Linda Winters

Monrovia, Indiana, 0II9

Getting to know Linda just a little at last year’s fly-in

What Linda doesn’t say is that her husband, the pilot, is now deceased. He flew their C170 out of their 1600′ grass strip and she misses all that flying. She loves that old Cessna 170 and loved being in the air. Of course, things are different now with the hubby gone, but anybody can tell she truly wants to get up there again.  I say we send Linda some encouragement and help her get over the fear of landing. There’s a pilot in there somewhere that needs to get out. Linda, I believe you WILL fly your C170 to our Ladies Love Taildraggers Fly-in some day!

  • Phil
    Posted at 17:05h, 03 July Reply

    If I remember correct there is a power line on one end. She is just being modest. My bet is that she is ready , she will have no problem.

  • Dan
    Posted at 21:58h, 25 April Reply

    Linda, you’ve got it right. The best landings are made when you try not to land…

  • Neroli
    Posted at 16:56h, 25 April Reply

    Hi Linda

    I agree with all the wise comments above. You obviously have the passion to fly and that counts for a lot. I am blessed to have a wonderful taildragger instructor, my husband Bill. I always struggle to leave my comfort zone and try new things. We have just purchased a lovely old Chipmunk and I have flown it but I am yet to do my type rating. I hate to say it, but again it is pushing my comfort levels. I am having a little love affair with my Piper Cub and as I only gained my PPL last year, I am loving being PIC of my baby. Just love it! So to change and start the learning process in the Chippy will require me to shift my mind set but it will happen 🙂 I believe you will do it too Linda! Find that awesome instructor and take it a step at a time.
    Best wishes

  • Jessie Freeman
    Posted at 14:06h, 25 April Reply

    Hey there Ma’am,
    Just wanted to throw my 2c of encouragement into this wonderful list of tailwheel veterans. I’m a UH-60 pilot in the army (still a taildragger, though not a terribly romantic one lol). Same concept until we’re airborne :), but the takeoffs and landings are pretty similar (the fun ones anyway).

    I empathize with your apprehension, and I think its healthy to have some fear (or respect) of the ground. When my primary class was learning to hover for the first time, there was nothing scarier than the ground. It was one thing to pick up that little Bell (TH-67/Bell207) and keep her from tottering all over the place– but then to set her back down on those skids without flipping over…. there was no worse fate any of us could imagine. Solo day, I remember watching a classmate do about seven full 360 degree turns before he set it down. When he swapped out with his instructor I don’t think his hands stopped shaking until the next day!

    Even as late as the day we graduated, there were some students who were overcome by that fear– the only thing that helped was repetition, and improvement. I had the same fear the first time I did a roll-on landing, the first time I landed on a pinnacle, etc. I can’t tell you how many times I landed with a full-on sweat in the middle of korean winter. The first time you touch down all on your own control will be nerve-wracking, but when you realize that you had that capability all along, there will be NOTHING like the satisfaction and accomplishment you’ll feel!

    I for one, have full faith that you will land that baby. You have that sight picture in your mind, as you probably have had for years– and you and the aircraft probably know one another a lot better than you think. It sounds like you are surrounded by people who can help you get to that step, so have faith in yourself, and your bird, take a deep breath, and decide you’re going to do it. 🙂 !YOU’VE GOT THIS!!!!

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  • Andrea
    Posted at 10:38h, 25 April Reply

    Hang in there! It is a big accomplishment to get a pilot certificate or even solo a tailwheel airplane. Don’t rush yourself, it takes time and LOTS of practice to feel comfortable. As a designated pilot examiner (and Luscombe pilot) I recommend you find a CFI you have every confidence in as you will spend lots of time and money with/on that person and it will be worth it. Don’t worry…IT WILL COME! And I commend you on everything you have already accomplished so far–kudos to you, Linda!

  • Freya
    Posted at 08:36h, 25 April Reply

    Linda, You can do this! I’ve been flying more than 30 years and more than once I’ve thought there’s no way I’ll learn to to this. When I got my first type rating I kept reminding myself that all those who’d done this before me could not be that much smarter. Come on, we are Pilots after all :). How bright can we be ? That whole trying to conquer gravity and defying physics thing.

    Several type ratings later, an airline career and plenty of tail wheel time I know that nothing beats experience and currency is everything. All you need is some confidence!

    I myself am a rotten CFI but I can recomend Bruce Bohannon. Heck, if he can teach me, a very hard headed airline pilot to land a Pitts S2b on a 2000′ grass strip he can surly get you landing a 170.

    You can do this!!!!!

  • Anne Wright
    Posted at 08:17h, 25 April Reply

    Hi Linda, I’ve always been nervous about landing, too, even after 15 years. For me, it’s having the ground rush up at me and not knowing what the airplane will do (bounce? float? ground loop? best landing of my life?). Practice in the air: lots of stalls, “falling leaf” drills, stick & rudder skills. Make sure you nail your speed on final, and keep your feet and hands active (but not so active you cause your own problems). I repeat to myself as I’m landing “Keep it straight, keep it straight.” And remember to breathe (I usually forget). A good, patient, understanding instructor can help tremendously, and will get you landing in no time. Good luck, and hope to meet you at a LLT fly-in soon!

  • Lorrie
    Posted at 06:32h, 25 April Reply

    Hang in there Linda. You can do it! A good instructor ca get you landing. My hubby is a wonderful instructor. He has been instrumental in getting many a student to land successfully. He likes to break down various aspects of flight into bite size pieces and learning to land is no exception. When I first started landing he would have me work only the stick (yoke) and talk me through it as he worked the rudders. The next landing might be me just using the rudders and he would handle the stick and power as needed. By working through each element of the landing operation individually I wash’t overwhelmed by handling the whole dang thing at once. It didn’t take long and I was doing the landing on my own. I’ve been flying since 2002, and I now fly gliders and also am the only female tow pilot at our glider club. It all starts with small steps and you can accomplish great things!

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