A grateful heart


Today was a day filled with apprehension. Ever since I was a little boy and traveled to the Buffalo International Airport with my father, I have had a fascination with flying. Coupled with my enthusiasm for flying is an active concern about the overall safety of the aircraft and my return to a safe landing. It had been over a year since my last flight and it was good to have my instructor along as a companion. I pre-flighted the aircraft, checking fuel and oil levels and the control surfaces necessary for flight. We climbed into the cockpit, got our seatbelts fastened, finished the checklist and visually examined the area to make sure that no one would be in danger as I brought this Cessna Skyhawk to life. I primed the engine, pumped the throttle, turned on the master switch and flipped the key to the start position. The propeller spun once around and then the engine came to life. I kept my feet firmly on the brakes, turned on the avionics, tuned the radio and announced our taxi to Runway 4. We did our runup before takeoff and then took the active runway. As I turned this aluminum bird onto the runway I recited a Hail Mary and asked God to guide our journey into the air and asked for a safe return. With feet firmly planted on the rudder pedals and ailerons deflected into the crosswind, I slowly applied full power as we rolled down the runway. I watched the airspeed indicator as it moved from zero to forty and then to fifty and finally 55 knots and then eased back on the yoke as the nose wheel came off the runway a moment later the main gear left the asphalt and we were climbing out at eighty-five knots. It was a great night to fly. It was around forty-five degrees and as we climbed up to our cruising altitude of 3500 feet we talked and went over check lists and spoke a language familiar to pilots everywhere. My instructor is a great guy, he told me, “Don, you don’t really need me here. You’re doing great.” I was thrilled to be flying again as pilot in command, but I assured him I was glad he was there to shepherd me on this maiden voyage. Eventually we leveled off at 3500 feet and headed north towards Wyoming County and then back south over Olean, New York and the campus of St. Bonaventure University and eventually back to the airport for a “touch ‘n go” and finally the landing. An hour of flying on a lovely afternoon. I’m grateful to God for the gift of flight and his grace. Peace.

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About Don Watkins

I'm a FOSS advocate, writer, educator, Python coder, Linux user, US Navy Veteran, Secular Franciscan, husband,father and grandfather. I blog about my life and experiences that give it meaning.
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2 Responses to A grateful heart

  1. Plain Foolish says:

    Beautiful.

    One thing I love about the Cessnas is that you can feel the “texture” of the air as you travel.

  2. captwasabi says:

    Don-
    Enjoy your flight, but stop wingwalking and barnstorming. And stop strafing my heifers in the back 40 acres. haha

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