[The following was written by a current student at the Parkland College Institute of Aviation at the University of Illinois.]
The first week was all about the paperwork and making sure that we, the new students, knew what was going to happen during the semester in case there were any last-minute doubts or questions. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) became much stricter about who can learn to fly in the United States since 9/11. This is the reason for a fair amount of the paperwork that I had to fill out.
After the paperwork came the online reading about the maneuvers we would learn throughout the semester and how to properly execute those. I am still working my way through the reading a second time as I get to each item in my flight time.
The first flight was learning basic hand-foot-eye coordination and figuring out which instruments to watch and how to use them properly. The coordination part was mostly figuring out what straight and level flight looks like on both the actual and artificial horizon. Once I got that part down, or at least I thought I had (turns out I wasn’t quite at the right speed so now I seem to always climb just a bit), I moved on to making climbs, descents, and turns. This part was simple and will be the building block for the rest of my training.
Flying has always been fun for me even though I still occasionally get motion sickness, and it is even more fun now that I am at the controls. Takeoff and landing are starting to become fluent, although the landings are still a bit flat, and I think I’m getting pretty good about hitting my mark. The radios are simple now that I have learned what to expect and how to reply properly dependent on the situation; eventually, the controllers won’t even know it’s a newbie talking to them.
Hopefully, soon, I will stop considering myself a newbie too, even though I know someone with about 12,000 hours. I have 14.