top of page

Ready for take-off

My first flight - in the pilot seat

Once upon a time, just like you, I dreamed of flying, but I thought flight training was beyond my reach. Me? A Pilot License? Impossible! I was a final year student from a single parent family studying on a bursary. I thought learning to fly was an impossible dream.

One day, two smiling middle aged men came swaggering into the internet café where I was working part time. You couldn't miss that they were pilots. The old joke: "How do you know if there is a pilot in the room? He'll come and tell you", was true in this instance.

The advice they gave me that sunny afternoon in Port Elizabeth changed my life forever. It was this: "Go for an introductory flight. The club has a special at the moment, R90 for half an hour flying. Here's the secretary's name and number..."

I phoned. I made the booking. I had to wait an entire week to go for my first training flight, and when that glorious Saturday dawned, it was a typical, blustery Port Elizabeth day with a crosswind and gusts up to 25 knots (about 50km per hour). My flight instructor kept asking me if I really wanted to fly that day, because it was so windy. I knew NOTHING about flying and said that if the wings would stay on, I wanted to go.

So we went.

A few months later my flight instructor confessed that he had thought he would never see me at the flight school again because we hit a few air pockets and it was a bumpy ride due to the wind, (being taller than me he'd hit his head on the cockpit roof three times) . The truth is I landed, (well, he did the actual landing, but he let me "feel it through"), with a grin from ear to ear that nothing could wipe from my face for a solid three months, and a deep sense of knowing, for the first time in my life, that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to fly. I wanted a pilot license.

My fist SOLO in a helicopter R22 in 2008 at Virginia Airport, KZN.

(I put this pic in because I don't have any pics of my first fixed-wing flights. The grin in this pic, however, tells you how my first flight felt).

It took me just over a year, and every sent I earned, to get my Private Pilot License in 1997. It took till 2002, and some other adventures, to get my Commercial Pilot License, paying for it one slow step at a time.

To this day with over 4000 flying hours, 3500+ hours of which are giving "ab initio" flight training to student pilots, this has not changed. That first flight took place on 1 June 1996.

66 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Circuit direction
Circuit checks
Normal take-off
Crosswind take-off
Shortfield take-off
Crosswind leg
Downwind leg
Base Leg
Final leg
Flaring high
Flaring low
Flapless landing
Shortfield landing
Glide approaches
Sideslip approach
Crab approach
Circuit radio
bottom of page