A Stable Approach.
Any absence from the cockpit comes with not only the need to refamiliarise oneself with the world of flight but to recover any lost ground due to the passage of time. Retraining in simulators and the aircraft, passing flight checks to revalidate ratings and regaining currency in the various types of operations in which a pilot is involved.
Week after week I have been progressively ticking each of those boxes and there is still some way to go – but the finish line is in sight. Even if it also serves as a start line, marking the return to a life that I left behind more than a year ago.
Today was a good day.
35 years ago I was granted a Flight Instructor Rating by an aviation examiner by the name of Bill Scott. (Bill had been the first Australian to fly through the sound barrier over Australian soil back in the 1950s in an RAAF Sabre fighter jet.) That rating was a pivotal moment in my aviation career and set me on a path where flight training was more than a job – it was a passion.
Even though my professional life took me onto the flight deck of various airliners along routes that criss-crossed the world, my love of light aircraft and flight instruction remained. So today, I did what I have done since 1988. I gave a briefing and then strapped into the right seat of a light aircraft and renewed my Grade One Flight Instructor rating.
The passion has not waned and the groundings imposed by the pandemic and then my medical challenges late last year have possibly made the fire burn even more brightly. The pure joy of ‘stick and rudder’ flying and the sharing of ideas and knowledge with another instructor vividly remind me of those first flights in decades long past.
On that day when the engines have spooled down for the last time and the airline uniform is put into a box, I’d like to think that I will still have the privilege to fly and to share what I have learnt about this wonderful undertaking we call flight. Just as my father and aviators like Bill Scott once did for me.
In the meantime, there are still flight checks to pass and books to study. Even so, my desire to dedicate myself to the cause is as strong as it was in that kid all those years again. And I pray that never changes.