Back when I turned 16, I was in the midst of real world flight training. To have the oppurtunity to leave the shadows of the earth alone is a gratifying experience. And a challenging one too. Why was it challenging? Weight in aviation means a LOT, especially in general aviation. At the time, I had a full fuel load. But when my 200+ pound flight instructor was taken out of the equation, the Piper Warrior i was flying flew a lot differently. it lifted into the air easier and sooner. it also wanted to float more on landing. On my first landing, i chewed up about 1000 extra feet than I’d hoped for, just waiting for the wheels to hit the ground. Thankfully the runway I was using was 5600×150 feet.
OK enough of that and heres the real reason for this post. Those who know me and went to school with me know that i was taking flying lessons well before I got behind the wheel of a car. My solo effort landed me on the front page of the New Haven Register. 03DEC2004: Too Young to Drive, E. Haven teen takes to the skies instead.
Yerp. I was flying solo before I even had my drivers permit. At that time, my bike was my main mode of transport. After i made two solo flights, my grandfather had to pull me from flight training. When I was 16 1/4, I went to the DMV in Hamden, CT and obtained my drivers permit. What were my thoughts on driving: HOLY SHIT THIS IS SCARY! I went from an envoornment where there wasnt many airplanes in the sky to bumber to bumper traffic. In flying, traffic avoidance is at the sole discretion of the Pilot in Command, and sometimes ATC points out suggestions. Now multiply the feeling by 100 and youll know where I’m coming from. it was hard at first. I had the urge to floor the gas pedal (and I still do)
My mother tells me driving is supposed to be pleasurable. I think shes insane. To me, driving is a full time job almost. The instrument scan comes in handy in driving of sorts, especially when cruise control doesnt work. I can never just look straight ahead. ive always wondered how well many peeps would be in the air. I say theyd all suck. English and its understanding is important in aviation (its the international universla ATC language). But a lot of jerks on the road seem to have trouble interpreting road markings and simple english.
You probably guessed by now that I’m not afraid to use the horn and I hate slow drivers. Will I ever calm down behind the wheel? Who knows. My mindset is still stuck in the aviation world I guess. When on an active runway in general aviation, takeoff involves firewalling the throttles and getting airborne as soon as practical. I did take drivers ed. I had a pilot as a drivers ed instructor. He told me that theres no need to brake on onramps and while under normal conditions on the highway. So what do I do? I try to be at or near 65 mph by the time I get on the highway. I hate all the assholes on the road who think its ok to brake on an onramp. it just kills my momentum. if youre in front of me when that happens, I usually blare the horn as I pass you in the middle lane.
And youre probably wondering why Im a tad OCD about interstate highway speed. Back in 2002, i was riding along in a van with my mother when we got klobbered in the rear by an 18 wheeler. My mother said she was doing 40 and we were in the right lane. Ever since then, and especially when i started driving, doing 40 for me starts to get me freaked out on the interstate. Thoughts of getting klobbered from behind start creeping in again. So whats my solution? I stay away from the under 55 crowd on the interstate. if you want me to be doing 40, its for roads like US 1. I do my part to help traffic flow on the interstate by staying off the brakes and I’m not afraid to change lanes.
Yup. When I have the oppurtunity to get into the air these days, i relax. behind the wheel is still crazy for me. I’m the kind of guy whod rather fly than spend hours cramped up in a car. And that also applies to airline flying as well. Back in March 2010, i visited my now ex girlfriend in Columbus, IN. My mode of transportation for most of the way was via Citrus (AirTran) i got to IND in a fraction of the time for a lot cheaper compared to driving. Lets just say i know people who would rather drive the 14 hours to Indiana. theyd probably stretch that into a two day affair. NOT FOR ME. Plus theres no smoking allowed on airplanes which is awesome for me, but thats another post.