Cirrus Aviation recently brought on CFI Michael Christmann and his Super Decathlon to teach aerobatics, upset recovery, and tailwheel transition. I was doing some work on the Cirrus website, and was given a reasonably straightforward task- take pictures of the bright green Super D, write a description of the course offerings, and post it to the website. Simple.
While on the Super D assignment, I had the opportunity to talk with Michael one-on-one. His love for aviation was infectious, and his impressive knowledge of stick and rudder skills had me itching to go fly. I’m a former flight instructor myself, though I haven’t flown for nearly eighteen years. But spending time on this project with Cirrus had me thinking seriously about getting current again.
It turns out that my sentiments did not go unnoticed by my client. I was meeting with Nayda, one of Cirrus’ owners, working on a way to get the word out to pilots about the benefits of aerobatics and tailwheel instruction when Nayda stopped mid-sentence as if she’d just had an epiphany.
She did. Nayda and her husband David had been conspiring for awhile to get me back in the air, and apparently the moment of truth had arrived.
“I’ve got it!” Nayda said. “How about you go up in the Super Decathlon with Michael and write about the experience?”
“Yeah,” I said, “that‘s a great idea.” From the expression on Nayda’s face I realized that while my mouth said it was a great idea, the look on my own face said, “Really? There isn’t some other poor soul we could talk into doing this?”
My bluff was called, and it was time for me to lay my cards on the table. On several occasions I’d mentioned my desire to get back in the air “someday”. Well, someday was today.
We would have a GoPro video camera along to record the flight, and all I could think of at the time was that my ineptitude in the cockpit after so long a time away could result in an unintentionally funny viral video. And I didn’t even want to think about the possibility of getting airsick. I had visions of making the list of Top 10 YouTube picks for 2015: “Former flight instructor gets sick in Super D! Hilarious!!”
Nayda, consummate aviation pro that she is, realized my pride was on the line and threw me a bone. “How about we have you do a lesson in the Redbird Flight Simulator first…just to work off the rust?”
I could work with that. “Sounds good.” I said. She scheduled me the next week in the Redbird with Zubair, one of their CFIs, and for a flight with Michael Christmann in the Super Decathlon the week after that.
I was grateful for the opportunity to “fly” the Redbird first, and started to warm to the whole plan. Little did I know what a help the Redbird lesson would be, or how useful both the Redbird and aerobatic instruction could be in sharpening the skills and boosting the confidence of any pilot.