This week, I made the quarterly payments on my life insurance policies and I stopped in at the Aero Club du Roussillon to inquire about taking flying lessons. I'm hoping the two events are not related.
I've wanted to learn to fly for a long time, but have heretofore deferred to family members who were convinced my flying would be as aggressive and occasionally dangereuse as my driving, and I'd surely kill myself.
Perhaps so, but I doubt it.
So when I return to Argeles-sur-mer in November, I will take a medical exam (no reason I should not pass - had my first completely clean physical in recent memory this spring), obtain a French FFA license, and sign up with an instructor for my 2nd time ever in a real cockpit.
The first time was last September when I flew upside down - on purpose - with APS upset recovery instructor Randy Brooks. I didn't takeoff nor land the Excel 300 aerobatic airplane, but I did have my hand on the stick and was in control for awhile ... and it was exhilerating.
I've always said flying was in my DNA. My great uncle, from whom I get the name Richard, was a pioneering aviator in the 1920s and 30s, a colleague of Charles Lindbergh. Richard Bennett served in the American Expeditionary Forces in France in WWI, started the first airport in Binghamton NY, competed in the air races of the day which helped popularize aviation, and taught parachute jumping (something else I plan to do - just over the border in Spain.) My dad was part of the 'Fabled Fifteen' Navy Helldiver squadron in WWII.
I'm looking forward to soaring over the south of France, looking down on the village and the beach from a few thousand feet, and gaining confidence in handling the controls and reading the instruments. The Aero Club leader said after about 10 hours, I'd be able to solo. Wonder how soon I can take passengers? Any volunteers?