I was really trying to be very consistent with flying this summer. Unfortunately, the vengeful weather gods had other plans, and almost every single flight I had scheduled in June got cancelled due to a constant assault of midwest thunderstorms.
Fast forward to today. It is the beginning of July, which means there is still a lot of summer ahead of me. I have an insanely busy month, but I focused and made sure to get enough flights scheduled so that this summer doesn’t pass me by with no flying progress.
Today was to be my first flight in a while, and for once I was excited. My last flight in June was during a rainy, cloudy, miserable afternoon. I find that when the sky is gloomy, I have no motivation to fly an airplane. But today was one of those blue sky days where I just couldn’t wait to get up into the air and fly. The weather was great today. I was excited and confident. The last time we met, my flight instructor had talked about me soloing the next lesson. Normally that thought terrified me, but today I was sure I could do it. I arrived at the airport completely ready. Besides, I’ve soloed before. My landings were pretty good when we flew at the start of June, this would be cake.
So I was completely ready when I arrived. But I’ll admit I was surprised how windy it actually was at the airport. There had not been much wind at home, but here it was 9 miles an hour. That isn’t terrible, but it was also gusting much higher apparently. I suddenly felt less confident about soloing today. But my instructor said it would be fine. We preflighted and got set up. I felt good. I felt confident. We took off. Everything was great. I had control and ease of the airplane. I flew the pattern. I still felt confident. I had this.
Until I came into land. I bounced on the first landing and my instructor saved it. Hmmm. Maybe it was just a fluke. Let’s try again. Next one sucked. Couldn’t get aligned right. Couldn’t round out right. The one after it sucked. Couldn’t get the flare timing right. Several more sucked. We stayed in the pattern for almost two hours as I struggled to navigate the airplane through these gusty crosswinds and put it down safely and smoothly on the runway. With each successive failure I felt more and more frustrated and irritated.
This was made worse by the other student who was in the air with me. A girl who had just gotten signed off to solo by my instructor. I don’t think it was her first solo, but man. Every time I was screwing up my crosswind landings, she was landing fine on her own. Every failure of mine was amplified by her every success.
It’s frustrating that when I came back to flying last month, I was nailing all my landings. But today I could barely get one down on my own. The winds definitely had to do with it, but after all this time I hoped I would finally be getting the hang of landing a damn airplane. It totally blows my mind that at one point I had soloed an airplane on my own.
Today reminded me of my early lessons, when I was first learning how to land the airplane. After 2 hours of terrible landings, my brain once again felt fried, as it had in those initial lessons. Once again I felt completely incompetent, and even more defeated. But this was even worse than those early lessons, because by this point I should know how to land a damn airplane. I’ve even soloed! Now it feels like I’m just sliding backwards, unlearning everything I once knew. Or maybe I had never known anything in the first place. Maybe I am wasting my time trying. Yes, clearly I am just wasting my time, and I will never get this.
I don’t want to give up. I shouldn’t give up. I’m telling myself that it is better to suck at something awesome than to be awesome at something that sucks.
I’m telling myself that today is just an off day, and that the gusty crosswinds were a challenge. But the girl soloing seemed to handle them fine.
I’m telling myself I will get better if I keep flying and stay consistent from here on out. But it’s sure hard to believe that. Right now I’m convinced I will never get the hang of it. I feel like I’ve reached something my brain just can’t figure out. I feel like I will never improve, I’m stuck. Not even stuck, I’m worse than stuck. I’m sliding backwards, unlearning everything. I want to just throw my log book into the trash and never waste another minute, or penny, on this “adventure” again.
I’m telling myself not to throw that logbook into the trash just yet. I’m telling myself not to quit yet. I’m telling myself it will get better. But I’m not believing it.
I sure hate flying today.
And I really want to quit.