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Flying Lessons

You feel a little nervous as you walk round the aircraft, which suddenly looks 10 times as big as it did when you first walked towards it. You make sure that the propellor can turn by giving it a little swing (what if it fires up and takes your hand off, you ask yourself) and test the rudder and elevators to make sure that they have full and easy movement. Finally the moment comes when you clamber inside the craft, making sure not to stand on an area which isn't clearly marked, in case you damage a wing by putting your foot through it! You shuffle over to the left-hand seat, get firmly strapped in, taking in the smell which is a mixture of oil and old leather and this is the moment when the adrenalin really starts to pound in your ears.

The instructor climbs in next to you, straps himself in and checks all the bewildering array of knobs and dials on the dashboard. Satisfied, he calls out ' clear prop! ', presses the starter and the engine roars into life. You placed one hand on the joystick, the other on the throttle which you slowly push in; the aircraft bound forward and you are gathering speed! As the air speed indicator slowly rises you wait until it reaches the magic takeoff speed and you slowly ease the column back; a light bump and you are airborne. Check your air speed indicator to ensure that you are not climbing too sharply, balance the aelerons with your trim tab, climb up to 500 feet and then turn to the right with 15 of bank. Level off at 1000 feet then take a 30 bank to the right again; only this time you call it ' starboard '. Fly on for a few moments until you are well past the airfield, bank at 30 to complete a 90 turn and level off. Turn again to starboard, and lineup on to the runway. Put on one degree of flaps and throttle back. Glide down gently until you are just skimming over the surface of the runway, pull the stick back as you start to sink and execute a perfect three point landing.

That's the theory, anyway!

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