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Ann Eichenmuller – Flying

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I have a confession to make. I am not brave or 

Ann Eichenmuller

adventurous, no matter what my bio says. The truth is, I have spent whole days absolutely petrified. Bravery is not the quality that got me out on the ocean in a 33 ft. sailboat or at the controls of a two-seater plane. No, the blame for those adventures goes to my rose-colored imagination.

Take flying. Heights make me dizzy, whether I am on a mountain overlook or at the window of a tenth-floor hotel room. So when my husband decided to take pilot’s lessons, I promptly informed him I would not be flying. But then he came back from his first solo, face glowing, and my imagination took over.  How exhilarating it must be to speed down the runway and effortlessly lift into the air! How wonderful if we could share that experience! The next thing you know, I was taking lessons.

Everything went fine until we got to stalls. You point the nose of the airplane up, the speed slows, and you know you’re successful when the stall horn blares and the plane falls out of the sky. Really—it’s a required exercise. Imagine if a P.E. teacher used this method in school. “Now, Billy, run as fast as you can at the wall and try to stop when I blow the whistle!”

Rudder control is key in this maneuver, and I didn’t have it. The plane went into a spin, and I froze as the instructor took the controls. He put in the power and got the plane level, and then he turned to me. “Whew,” he said, and I noticed there was a sheen of sweat on his forehead, “that really does work! This is the first time I’ve ever been in a spin!”

I would have quit that day except that I imagined my instructor expected me to quit—I was a girl, after all, and we did have a near death experience. But I was determined to prove him wrong and envisioned how good it would feel to pass the test withoutcrashing the plane. I doubled down on practice, not because I was brave, but because I couldn’t imagine wasting the $2,000 I’d already spent. Two months later, I earned my pilot’s license.

But then, I had always imagined I would.

Till next time,

Ann

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