Splette's Travel Blog


The flight lesson took place at a small airport just North of BerlinIn a lot of ways flying, to me, symbolizes freedom. And as you might know, freedom is something I deeply care about. Now, I’ve been flying quite a bit in the past – in commercial airliner to get from one country to another. What I haven’t done until now is to fly an airplane myself. Thanks to Anja & Benoit this dream has now become a reality.


I’ve always wanted to know how it feels to fly a plane. In part, I can blame the Australian TV series ‘The Flying Doctors‘ which I watched religiously when I was a kid. But I didn’t expect to ever fly a plane myself since flight lessons are expensive and I have no ambitions to get a pilot’s license. What I didn’t know is that you can take a single flight lesson consisting of 30 minutes of introduction and 30 minutes of flying. The pilot lets you do most things by yourself as long as you don’t screw up. anja and Benoit gifted me such a flight lesson for the graduation of my PhD. Thanks a lot!

It's easy to pose. It's easy to fly. But it's hard to land.

Me posing after the flight

So, during my visit in Berlin we scheduled my flight lesson for some sunny Sunday afternoon. The tiny airport is about an hour North of Berlin at the very last stop of the S-Bahn. I was told the airport was used by the East German Army (NVA) in the past. My flight instructor was from Bavaria and not much older than me. He was very tranquilo, extremely talkative and at times entertainingly vulgar (He kept refering to the airplane of the flight school as an old whore that has been ridden by many). After a five-minute lesson about the flight physics and the basics of an airplane we went to the airfield to inspect the plane. It was a Cessna, which, as I realize now, have mispronounced my entire life. The ‘c’ is pronounced like an ‘s’, the same as in ‘cesspool’.
After the general checkup and refilling of oil we got into the plane. The cockpit was surprisingly small and looked old and worn. I was assured several times, that looks don’t matter and the plane is in a good condition. Oooookaaayyyy, if you say so….
After some more instructions I started the engine and drove across the airfield to our starting position for take off. My instructor got permission to start from the tower and here I go… In theory, taking off is surprisingly easy. You just accelerate and the plane takes off. There is not much else to do. Yet, I managed to go in zigzag lines all the way until the plane eventually lifted off the ground. It was a little embarrassing but hey it’s my first time. Good thing the landing strip is wide and long…
Once you are in the air and reach a certain height, things are relatively easy. In case you don’t know, I have a slight fear of driving cars. I’m always afraid to run into something and have an accident. I have a slight suspicion that this fear stems from my past accidents (when I ran into another car, a deer or a ditch)… Anyway, when you are high up in the air, there is nothing to run into. What a great feeling. You steer a little too much in one direction but it’s no problem at all unlike driving where you have to stick to your lane. Inside the cockpit however you feel pretty much like in a car. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to go in all directions instead of just left or right. But it is confusing, too. There are three axis around which a plane can revolve. Therefore you have several types of flight control surfaces: roll, pitch and yaw. That many control was a bit much for me to get used to and I mixed them up more than once. Nevertheless, it’s am amazing feeling to have such immediate physical feedback to your actions.

The cockpit looked rather ancient. But as long as everything is still functioning...

Inside the cockpit

While I was all busy trying to master the controls during the 30 min flight we did come across some nice scenery: villages, forests, lakes and some wind turbines. Unlike one might expect, there was absolutely nothing scary about all this. I assumed the instructor sitting next to me wants to make it down alive, too.
Towards the end, he demonstrated some stomach-churning maneuvers. Not my thing, thanks. Then finally, it was time to land. After asking permission from the tower, I was instructed in detail of how to approach the airfield, so we come in at the right angle to land. Problem was: I didn’t see the airfield. There were so many streets and houses around and I was quite busy focusing on the controls, that I had no idea where I was going and just followed the instructions. Once we came close, I eventually saw the landing strip. But I was still too high up, so I had to go down steep. My feeling told me: way too steep! Then, for the actual landing, the instructor took over and we had a very soft landing. He claims I would have managed myself but I doubt that. He also said I did well for my first lesson. I doubt that, too. The truth is, I don’t care what a lousy pilot I am – I got the chance to fly a plane, that’s all that matters to me. But watch out you skies, one day I might be back.

PS. For anyone interested and living near Berlin, this is the website of the flight school: www.pegafly.de

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /www/htdocs/v028831/panam/wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment