The Next Step - Sneak Peak of 50 More Tales of Flight by: Owen Zupp
There was no escaping it. After six weeks of waiting the day had arrived, or, more accurately, it had emerged from a sleepless night. It was still dark as I drove into the airport with my father and only a few offices emitted a glow from the windows in their back rooms. In contrast, the flight briefing office near the runway’s edge was a hive of activity, with bright fluorescent lights and charter pilots checking weather forecasts before submitting flight plans. If today went well, perhaps I would one day be checking charts and drinking coffee before the sun had peeped its head above the horizon. Only today would tell. Today I would give my utmost to become a licensed commercial pilot.
My father had been my flight instructor, but that morning he kicked me out of the car like a duckling is kicked out of the nest. His military training was black and white and there was no room for soft edges. I was ready, so just go and do it like you’ve done it before, was his philosophy. Nerves and trepidation didn’t enter into the argument, just do what you were trained to do, son.
So there I stood at the glass-topped, inclined bench in the briefing office. The rain pitter-pattered outside and my heart thumped in my chest. The weather forecasts were not promising, but that was no surprise as I had
These were the days when all licence test were conducted by examiners from the Department of Aviation; not delegates. As such, if the weather intervened, it would be another six weeks before another booking would be available, so I was desperate to fly if it was at all possible. Fortunately, the examiner explained he felt the same way, as I shook his hand. John was a former Air Force transport pilot with close-cropped black hair just beginning to grey in his sideburns. He reviewed the weather forecasts and agreed with my bleak outlook, however he also offered that he was at the airport all day should the weather improve. In addition, he took me to his office and conducted the mandatory pre-flight examination of questions relating to my aircraft and the rules and regulations. All those boxes were ticked, so now all I had to do was fly!
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