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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My first solo flight

Here's a little story:

Many years ago,  I learned to fly an airplane. I learned in a Cessna 150 (N-11959 was its tail number - guess what? I just looked it up and it is still in service: My training plane).

This little story is about my first solo flight.  By the way, I never got my license, but did use my student pilot license to get into more than one nightclub (although, both me not getting my license and the use of my student license are different stories).

My instructors name was Brad, and we flew out of tiny little Hardwick Field (KHDI). Brad was a pretty big fellow - over two hundred pounds, and I was a scrawny kid of about 145 - yeah, I know, things change. His weight becomes significant a little later. Brad was pretty funny. He would sometimes pretend to be asleep while I was flying, I guess trying to see how I would react? Or maybe he was asleep, I dunno.

Moving along to the day that I was to solo. My parents were there - my sister and brother were there, and I believe that a couple of my buddies were there also. The plan was pretty simple.  I would take off, hang a left, hang another left (these are technical pilot terms, by the way), fly parallel to the runway (at 1,700 feet above sea level, or about 900 feet in the air) until past it, hang a third left, then a fourth, which would line me up on my final approach, and land.

Here is where Brad's weight comes into play:  The Cessna 150 is a very small, light airplane:

Brad and my plane

So, I took off, made my first left, and as I made my second turn - the one that turns me parallel to the runway - I noticed that my altitude was a little bit high. By the time I was about halfway past the runway, I was 400 feet too high. The plane wasn't responding the way I was used to! I made my third turn, but wasn't having much luck getting the plane any lower. It finally dawned on me that the lack of Brad's weight was having a significant effect on the plane's altitude.

I made my fourth turn and was on final approach, still a couple of hundred feet too high, I was systematically cutting the throttle, lowering flaps, 10 degrees, 20, then 30, descending more rapidly, and at a steeper angle than I should have, I guess.  I say that because as I passed over the beginning of the very short runway, struggling to get the plane down before I ran out of room, I noticed my family and friends standing (with horrified looks on their faces) behind Brad who was frantically waving his arms, trying to tell me to abort the landing and go around again.

Well, heck, I didn't.  I did manage to land fairly smoothly, did a couple of touch and go's (where you touch down, then immediately take off again), and then finally parked the plane to the awaiting glory that was my first successful solo flight.  What I got, however, was a stern lecture from Brad.

I imagine the landing probably looked like this:

The tradition after a person has his or her first solo, is to have their shirt tail cut off - at KHDI, the shirt tail would be displayed on the airport's bulletin board for a time. Mine was so completely soaked with sweat, that I think it was a pretty gross job.  I still have the rest of my shirt though.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thoughts on bullying - Baylor students please read

Two cases of bullying:


A couple of nights ago, I noticed a new Twitter account called @Baylor_Confess, where people associated with The Baylor School would...confess things.  It started out pretty funny - a lot of it was totally inappropriate (although in the funny, inappropriate way that many parents and administrators don't like - but, whatever). Then it turned into a forum where students started making personal attacks on other students - all while hiding under the anonymous cloak of invisibility.

A better type of cloak of invisibility, IMO

Some pretty mean, nasty things were said said about individually named students. Those comments were hurtful. Again, this was all done anonymously.  There wasn't anything funny about those comments. I hope the posters feel badly about making the comments, and I'm glad that all of the tweets were deleted. Baylor is too good of a school, and the kids at Baylor are better humans than that (BTW, It also gives ammunition to people eager to judge Baylor according to their preconceived, false notions of the school).

There's really no need to have an East Tennessee version of Mean Girls.

Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin

Richie Incognito, of the Miami Dolphins, seems to be a monumental asshole. He is trying to defend his bullying actions against Jonathan Martin, saying that it is all part of the football culture, and that he and Jonathan were tight bro's (apparently, Mr. Martin doesn't agree).  I can understand that a football locker room is a testosterone driven place, full of a lot of big, aggressive men.  I also understand that young players are hazed until they pay their dues.  But hazing is a lot different from leaving a voice-mail for a teammate, calling him a "half nigger" and texting: "I'm going to shit down your throat".

What really gets me about all of this, though, is the number of football players coming out in support of Incognito.  I mean, I'm not surprised that some dumbass fans are:

Dumbass picture #1

Dumbass picture #2

But to me, all the talk of the "brotherhood of football players", and then the willingness to approve of the things that Mr. Incognito did and said (he admits to them, so I don't have to add a stupid "allegedly"), don't go together. I don't understand why the teammates would side with Incognito.

Way too much meanness in the world.