Lesson 10

Today Tom and I worked on the simulator. It was a beautiful day and I would have preferred to be in the air, as I think Tom would have. But I was grateful for the indoor lesson. It helped clarify some things for me and gave me greater confidence.

The advantage of the simulator is the ability to stop and concentrate on only a few things at a time without fear of letting go of something essential while inside a real airplane. For instance, I was able to closely consider the relationship between pitch and power, and if, in the meantime, I was drifting off course, I wasn’t so worried. It’s a little like a video game, after all. All you have to do to get an extra life is start over.

Another (dubious) advantage to simulated flight is seeing how poorly you land without the instructor’s assistance. Tom wasn’t in the cockpit with me; I was all alone, and boy, was I off. I mistimed my landings, I fell short, I ran long, I bounced, I skidded, I plowed through the grass. I was grievously injured over and over again.

At one point, I was coming in very low. Now, in my defense, I was taking advantage of the simulator’s lack of real-life consequences to figure a few things out without being super-vigilant about other things–in this instance, where the airplane was pointed. When I realized I was coming in low, I said, “Tom, I’m coming in way short of the runway.”

But I made no move to correct. I didn’t raise the nose, I didn’t increase the power.

I crash-landed. I turned to Tom.

“What interests me,” he said, “is why you would say you were coming in low, and then not do anything about it.”

That’s the mystery!