I earned my pilot certificate in 2001, but logged my latest hours flying in May 2002. Six years away from flying. For some perspective, I met, married, and divorced my ex-wife without ever touching a throttle. Last year, when I moved into this apartment, I resolved that I would get up in the air again. My apartment is minutes away from Peachtree DeKalb (PDK) so there is no excuse for me to stay earthbound.

A friend of mine happens to fly out of PDK and was able to recommend an instructor, Pascale, of Skybound Aviation. After getting an up to date airman medical and scheduling some time with my instructor, I was back up in the air!

Last week was my first flight. There is so much to remember: preflight inspection, radio communications, taxiing operations, takeoff procedures, airspace rules, flight maneuvers, navigation and pilotage, landings, securing the plane, and logging the flight. That is an abbreviated list as weather alone merits its own entry. While trying to keep all of those things in mind without going into mental meltdown, we flew out towards Lake Lanier. I performed a few easy maneuvers and decided to try to find my office building from the air.

Finding a nondescript office/warehouse from the air is a far more difficult task than most people realize, especially if you have not planned for it before you go up. The perspective is unique, road signs are of little value (those large, green interstate signs being an interesting exception), and north is rarely straight ahead. That shopping complex may be unmistakable driving by, but what does its roof look like? Which of two similar, parallel roads are you flying along? Is the road I follow to my office without thinking about really that curvy? After flying south along Peachtree Industrial for what seemed like a long time, I had given up hope that I would spot the office. Luckily, I DID spot a landmark I recognized (funny: a liquor store) that was north of the office and within minutes I was circling the office where I could see my boss' little blue Mini Cooper sitting alone in the parking lot.

My latest flight (second with Pascale) was yesterday, a windy, gusty day that challenged me greatly. I confess, it kicked my butt on landings. Pascale was reasonably happy with my ground reference maneuvers which is a good thing, especially on a windy day that forces you to constantly correct for wind effects. We did a few touch and gos at Fulton County (FTY) and returned to PDK. I have a lot left to learn and relearn, but I'm on my way!

Am I having fun? Almost. I love the thought of going flying, and I love having been up in the air, but the actual flying part is a bit overwhelming. I expect that will change once I get comfortable with the time division of all the things you have to keep track of while flying. There are only a few things that need constant attention, but each of those things has a vast collection of subparts that need checking or adjusting at various times. My thought process is not efficient at managing and categorizing that list right now, but once it is I suspect my enjoyment for flying will return!

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