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Learning to fly has a few frustrating moments, but it's still a thrill

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I’m learning to fly. It’s a sometimes frustrating but always thrilling experience. The good news is, after a hiatus last winter, I’m getting close to earning my private pilot’s license.

Recently, I flew to Ponca City, 56 miles away, and back by myself.

This week, my instructor, Dave Dewhirst, and I did a little flying tour of a few Wichita-area airports.

With the flight, I practiced knowing how things look from the air and matching up what’s out the window with landmarks on a sectional map. (That will go a long way towards avoiding getting lost someday.) Things look different from up there.

The other benefit was to practice flying in to an unfamiliar airport, getting in the pattern and lining up to land properly.

So with Dave in the right seat, I took off from the Augusta Airport, flew to El Dorado, then to Jabara, on to Newton and back to Augusta.Dave told me to forget that he was even in the plane.

The airports aren’t that far away. But you have to have the information you need handy — such as the radio frequencies, which way the runways are oriented, the airports’ altitudes and direction of the wind. And you have to make decisions about when to begin the descent and how to properly get into the pattern.

I made some mistakes along the way. One was not realizing that the airport I saw on the ground was indeed the Newton Airport. (Duh!) Another was not seeing the Augusta Airport on the way back until I was pretty close to it. Plus, my altitude was too high on the final approach. Ugh!

Needless to say, I’m a little frustrated with myself. But I’m told every student has similar experiences. And that putting it all together comes with practice. I can’t wait until the next lesson.

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