Please, Mr Flying Instructor, don’t slap me on the head

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The Daredevil Archetype

Ever wondered what it’s like behind the wheel of a small plane?

I took a two hour introductory flying lesson at Melbourne’s Moorabbin airport to find out.

Of course, taking to the sky in a small piece of metal is never going to run smoothly.

Shortly before my flight,  the weather deteriorated and the airport was closed. I had to wait another week before it was clear enough to fly.

And then there was the instructor. He was in his mid-forties and had been flying since his teens, but he was now broke because of the training costs.  He couldn’t get a job with a commercial airline and was stuck as an instructor — a job which never lasted more than a few months.

Soon after take-off,  he complained how bored he was taking people up and down. “Imagine going through the same thing each day”, he moaned. “When people make mistakes I want to slap them on the head.”

With all this negativity,  the cockpit soon felt claustrophobic, particularly as my instructor looked depressed and there was no possibility of escape.

As we flew over Werribee’s sewerage farm he exclaimed, “Oh, that’s where our pee pee goes.”  He sounded childish and should have been behind the wheel of a toy plane, not a light aircraft which can, and often do, crash.

In addition to his gloomy presence, the control panel was overwhelming and trying to keep the plane level with the horizon while watching dials spin was challenging.

Once we landed and I could wave goodbye to the loony instructor, I concluded that I was no pilot. But at least I now know where all my “pee pee” goes.

Sue Bell

Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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