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A lifetime ago, in South Africa, the captain had his own small plane. A V-tail Beechcraft Bonanza and the cutest thing in the air.  We would fly all over the country and common sense declared I should learn to pilot our plane.

If anything, heavens forbid, should happen to him eight to twelve thousand feet up high, I should be able to get us back to terra firma, hopefully in one peace.

I tried. I truly tried. I’d get up early and drive to a small private airport. I’d dutifully do my pre-flight check on the ground, walking around the plane, pulling, pushing prodding, my ever watchful instructor observing closely.

The Cessna 152 Aerobat is a small fixed wing, two-seat trainer with a single engine and fixed tricycle landing-gear. (One thing less to remember, putting down that gear…) I’d scramble in, do another pre-flight check, radio contact with the tower, clearance for takeoff, throttle, increase speed and that glorious feeling when you’re up there and can look down, watching everything becoming smaller and smaller.

I learned how to handle the radio and got my operator’s license. I could take off and land, fly straight and level, make turns, always with the reassuring presence of my instructor in the right hand seat, watching, correcting, taking pride in my small achievements.

But, bottom line; I did not have what it took to go solo. When asked how I knew when to bank to come in to land, my answer was the three water towers on my left.


When asked how I’d plan my route to fly to the Orange Free State, I told Mike I’d follow the railway line.

Double mehh…

Still, Mike thought I was ready to go solo. And that’s when the Captain stepped in. His encouraging words –

“I don’t want to be up there and know so is she by herself.”

Was I disappointed? Not a bit. Was I angry? Are you serious?

I was grateful. I knew I didn’t have what it took to be a pilot. At a pinch, in an emergency, I could

bring us back to Mother Earth. It might not be pretty, but it could be done.

What in heaven’s name made me dredge up my abortive attempt at learning to fly this morning? My beloved Oswald Chambers,

“Experience is only a gateway by which salvation comes into our conscious life.”

Rest a while with that thought. Learning to fly, i.e. experience, taught me I could only do it with an instructor.

Do you have an instructor? In the right hand seat? And a handbook?

Cyber Hugs and as always, a multitude of blessings.


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