The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

Taking to the skies

Visions of the crashes of John Denver, Patsy Cline, and John F. Kennedy, Jr. flashed in my mind as I lay in bed with nervous anticipation the night before I was scheduled to take flight.

Instead of morbid fantasies, I tried to turn my thoughts toward more pleasant images.

I started to think about what it would be like to be a bird, or at the very least, a mosquito, which in terms of scale, is probably more accurate for a tiny four-seat Cessna airplane.

I recently had the opportunity to take a flying lesson from South Bay Aviation in Torrance.

It was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.

When I arrived at the Torrance Airport, my flight instructor was already waiting for me; I had a little trouble finding the place and was running a little late.

At 24, Mary Lou Johnson has already earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and has had her pilot’s license for two years.

She said that after school she wanted time do something fun, so she started taking flying lessons.

She loved it so much that she decided to make it her job.

About five months was all it took for her to get her pilot’s license.

She said that some people need more time than others to get their license; it just depends on the individual.

The estimated cost summary for private pilot training is $4,709 based on the minimum 40 hours of training required by the Federal Aviation Administration.

At South Bay Aviation, an introductory flight will run you about $35, which is a bargain for the experience of a lifetime.

Before getting in the plane, Johnson did a thorough check of the airplane, making sure that every piece of the aircraft was in working order.

After the inspection was completed, we pulled the plane out of its spot and onto the approach; we were now ready to climb in.

The compartment of the airplane seemed impossibly small for my large frame.

I guess the yoga classes I’m taking are starting to pay off; ultimately, I was able to contort myself to fit in the front seat.

Once I got in there, it was actually quite comfortable.

On the runway, she turned control of the airplane over to me.

I was nervous at first, but the plane has two sets of controls. If anything got out of hand, she could take over.

She instructed me to pull the throttle out all the way; with that, the plane began to barrel down the runway.

There was a moment of weightlessness as the tiny Cessna left the ground that made everything else become inconsequential.

As I pulled back on the stick and rose up into the sky, I become acutely aware of the present, transfixed by the task at hand.

It is such an incredible feeling to pilot an airplane.

Cooped up in the tiny cockpit, I felt freer than I have ever felt before.

Everything is so beautiful from the sky. Even on a hazy day, the landscape below is all rolling brown shapes and deep blue bodies of water.

As we flew over the Vincent Thomas Bridge, I could see cars that looked like a trail of ants making their way to gravity-bound destinations.

I wanted to fly around all day, but alas, everything must come to an end.

Flying back into the airport and landing required Johnson to take control of the aircraft.

Flying an airplane and landing one are two totally different scenarios.

Your speed and elevation have to be just right in order to land successfully.

Colored lights alongside the runway signal if you are too high or too low, based on your position in the sky.

We staggered toward the runway at about 45 mph.

The tires made a tiny chirp as we hit the runway, signifying that I was no longer a fearless aviator, but an ordinary motorist.

Flying is definitely something I am going to pursue in the future.

There is no comparison to the glorious freedom of the sky-restricted airspace excluded.

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