On Stalling and Stalls

Fall has arrived in Oregon.


 Every morning an enchanting fog wraps around the brightly colored trees. Above it layers of clouds sweep across the sky. The rain comes and goes leaving pilots to wager against Mother Nature in a guessing game that changes each hour, no, each minute.

For the past two weeks I had been awaiting a flight lesson on stalls. Each day I would optimistically head to the airport only to find once again my lesson on stalls had been stalled on account of weather.

On the bright side I have knocked out a ton of ground school.

But yesterday it finally happened. Somehow I managed to schedule a flight lesson during a time when the sky above the airport was blue. Granted, only the sky above the airport and a patch just a little south of the airport. Ever up for adventure, my CFI and I hopped in and went up…prompting everyone else who had been scratching their chins and staring at the sky to get in line behind us.

Going up on a day like yesterday with ever changing weather (some of those clouds had hail in them, others frost, others just rain) was actually a real treat. We steered clear of the more ominous looking weather and caught the little patches of blue that popped up here and there. I’m learning to make good calls. I was offered a chance to fly above the clouds and opted to stay beneath and between them. What would happen if we got up above them, and they all converged and we couldn’t get back down? Plus, how would a VFR pilot like myself have any shot at navigation with nothing but clouds below? And who is to say how high those clouds really go? The weather was morphing into a new configuration each minute. Do I really want my first formal lesson on stalls to be coupled with a bout of hypoxia?

And so, encircled by weather of every sort, with ephemeral rainbows flashing all around us, I finally had my lesson on stalls. We incorporated the types of stalls we did with the type of weather we were dodging to get from one patch of blue to another. Power on stalls. Power off stalls. Turning stalls…..the beginnings of spins! Recovering from spins. The “falling leaf” that results from not recovering a stall – that one was fun. My CFI had me open my window and stick my hand out to feel the effect of the wind as we fell 600 ft/min. For all of the hype and fear-mongering I’ve heard about the lesson on stalls, it was actually fun.

I left that day encouraged once again at how fun flying can be…and more queasy than I’ve felt in a long time. Next time, I’ll know to bring along some ginger ale.

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