“I’m scared!”

“No, you’re not! Just excited. It’s a new challenge.”

“Daunted then. I have a knot in my stomach.”

In fact, I couldn’t remember having been on edge like this about flying for a very long time. The reason? I was about to have my first ever instruction on a vintage PA22, fulfilling a year-old promise. It wasn’t the instructor I was worried about, it was me. Would I cope, would I make a fool of myself. Other, newer pilots had managed to land this old lady aircraft first time around, but would I? I knew my way around our Skyranger, but this one has that awkward throttle, a yoke and you need to remember to keep the revs at half of what I am used to. Plus it was at an Air/Ground airfield with a very strict circuit height and I worried I would get the radio calls wrong.

It got me thinking about birthdays and marking milestones. It is a year since I first posted on this blog and birthdays are moments to celebrate. They are also a point at which you should take stock. Look forward and back, to see how far you have come and plot your route ahead.

Fun2fly.blog has been a fantastic discipline for me. It has made me look at what I am learning and how I learn it in so many ways. Even fellow club members who scoffed or ignored it are starting to say things like, ‘Do that Wings challenge, then you can write a blog about it.’ (I will, on both counts!)

It has also marked points along my flying journey, which mean I can see just how far I have come, or what I continue to find daunting. I am a firm believer that one should celebrate the small wins, because if you only look at who raced ahead in getting their GST or now does long distance with seeming ease, you won’t appreciate your own unique journey.

We are all so very different, and no instructor, or friend, can fully understand what it takes for you to embark on today’s lesson. Only you and your own grit are going to determine how long it takes to get comfortable with a new concept. When things are easy, or effortless, to some, you may be struggling with the basics. So cut yourself some slack. You are only up against your own inner voice here, and if you practise cheering yourself on, rather than that stream of criticism, you may surprise yourself.

I could have had this first lesson a few weeks ago, but I had stupidly let myself be completely thrown by a comment about how I was going backwards as a pilot. Instead of taking it as encouragement and placing it in the context of what I have in fact achieved, I felt intimidated and I didn’t want to fly. I missed an opportunity there, because the weather was perfect that day.

And that lesson in the PA22? Well, I wish I could tell you how I had fared with landing that heavy old thing. It’s just that was the day when a rather iffy forecast actually meant the cloud-base stayed resolutely at 400 feet. The day before had looked the same and the instructor had managed six flights. Gloomy, perhaps, but do-able. All I managed was a full instruction on the dashboard, and endless cups of tea. Not even one circuit. That’s flying for you!

But back to birthdays and journeys. The best bit about this blog is actually you, the reader. I love the conversation we are having – even though you are not as forthcoming with your comments as I would hope. No one writes for themselves, and I so enjoy reaching other pilots in other places and hearing their stories too. The fact that a growing number of them are women is an added bonus.

So here’s to another year, more stories, more flying and loads more fun.

Thank you for reading!