Posted by Lex, on October 3, 2008
I have been much entranced, in my off moments, flying the odd instrument approach here in the San Diego region on my laptop computer, using the X-Plane 9 software I’d recently purchased. Feeling a tetch rusty on the gauges, I was, what with my ATP check ride receding in the distance and nothing but the occasional VFR hop about to keep my hand in. Never having been entirely comfortable with that whole dual VOR gas, nor all those flip-flop com/nav stacks. Having been raised on TACANs at first, liberally augmented over time with digital moving maps and GPS-aided inertial navigation systems.
Farewell to all that.
I’ve been fooling around with the Piper Malibu cockpit, as sufficiently advanced to make a man work for his dollar without being led around by the hand like he would be in the Cirrus Jet. If he understood the layout.
Anyway, it’s been fun in a small way. I’ve avoided, to this point, the fighter cockpits.
No sense torturing oneself.
Last weekend I had just finished flying the ILS approach into Montgomery and come to a full stop when the Kat came by with a full head of steam and decided she wanted a stab at it. In moments she had the stick in one hand, ran the throttle up to full power and briskly departed the prepared surface prior to gaining fly-away speed. Ha-ha, she said, running off with a friend. I reset the system and went back to work.
A week or so later I was practicing the localizer into Gillespie – one of these days I will screw my courage up for the back course – when she came and parked herself on my shoulder, watching carefully. After I’d landed, she gently pushed me aside, sat in the chair and said, simply, “Teach me.”
Two words, not really a request. You’ve gotta love that kid.
And so I did. Yes, so I did. I taught. A bit of being smooth on the flight controls, navigating by the CDI, keeping the airspeed under control. Directional control on the go controlled by rudders, by the ailerons in flight. Navigating by the VOR, intercepting final approach course, picking up the glideslope. Taking it to an entirely creditable landing. Thottle coming back to idle, nose coming up to break the rate of descent. Braking to a full stop. Right there on the runway. Not a squeaker really, but no parts left behind on the runway either.
Nice job, I said. Her eyes shining.
She bounced off to the next thing vying to preoccupy the attention of a 14-year old girl in Southern California. But who knows, maybe the bug got under her skin. And even if it didn’t, an old man had a chance to teach his child. Teach her right well.
That’s not nothing.