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Having spent the last week or so prepping for this flight lesson I was stoked to find that I rather enjoyed practicing spins and stalls. I had been psyching myself up for this lesson because I was secretly nervous to see how it would feel to pull Gs and do some basic aerobatic style flying. I had my lesson booked for a Monday morning and that Sunday night I hardly slept a wink with excitement and anticipation.  Unfortunately, on the day of my intended lesson the cloudbase was too low and the flight was cancelled. A further 3 times my lessons were cancelled on the morning of due to low cloud and I was getting impatient to get in the air!

At last the weather cleared and we finally took off, navigating our way between clouds up to an altitude of 7,000ft ASL where we spent an hour practicing spins and spiral dives. I tightened my seat belt, took a deep breath and focused. As we pulled up into a stall and kicked the tail up and around sending us into a vertical spin facing the ground thousands of feet below, my mind was calm but my body was shaking with adrenaline. We did this over and over again, each time my legs were trembling, my hands were shaking but each time I stomped that rudder and pulled the control column back to kick us into that dive. It was just incredible! It felt like real flying, the stuff you see in films!

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As we pulled up from each of the dives our bodies were being pressed down heavy into our seats with about 2 Gs worth of gravity and the exhilaration tore through me leaving me whooping with joy and kept the adrenaline levels on a high until we touched down. I had pretty much been shaking for the entire lesson from the exhilaration, felt sick from the Gs and was completely exhausted by the time we were done. All I could think about was getting home and going to sleep, albeit with a big smile on my face. The adrenaline and the constant focus was utterly draining. 

During our second lesson on this we re-visited spins and worked on spiral dives. Some of our spins had developed into spiral dives (where instead of maintaining a steady speed the dive would increase in speed rapidly) and so learning how to recover from spiral dives was key to our spin lesson too. Spiral dives proved to be much easier to fall into and far easier to recover from. But being in a spin, facing the ground below as the aircraft’s ground speed indicator screams towards the red arc and not becoming overwhelmed or disorientated is a lot to handle all at once. Needless to say, after both lessons I got home and passed out in bed for several hours with a headache, tense shoulders and achy legs from all of that focus!

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Things I've learnt

  • Don’t plan anything for the rest of the day after your flight lesson on spins or spiral dives, you’ll more than likely be completely exhausted, both physically and mentally after all of the adrenaline and focus. 
  • Eat a solid lunch an hour or two before your lesson, nothing spicy or too greasy. Pulling Gs might make you queasy so be sure that your stomach is ready for it.
  • Practice plenty of armchair flying before this session so that you’re more familiar with what is expected of you in the plane. There is a chance that the first few times you do it your mind will go blank due to overwhelm, but eventually as you keep practicing the maneuver you will know what to expect and will relax just enough for your brain to start working again! 
  • Do whatever you can to relax the night before because a good night’s sleep is key for better concentration the next day. Take a bath, go for a walk, read a book, have a cup of tea, whatever it takes. Try to calm any nerves you might have and remember that your instructor will have likely done this hundreds of times, you’re in safe hands. They have control over the situation, trusting your instructor is paramount in this learning process. 
  • Most of all, have fun! It’s an absolute blast!
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