A Little Learning
© 1995 by Ian H Radcliffe - (G-BIAN) - All rights reserved
- It was the aircraft's color scheme that caught his eye. Davis slowed the car and peered at
the plane. It looked just like his trusty Skycruiser from VirtuFlite 3.5!
- He pulled onto the grass beside the quiet country road and got out, walking to the low fence
that bordered the airfield. Yep, same colors, same stripes. Virtually the same aircraft in which
he had flown hundreds - thousands! - of hours at his desk at home.
- He looked up at the bright blue sky and wondered how it would feel to really fly such a
plane. Wonderful, he was sure, and probably very like the simulation. He glanced around
the apparently deserted field, wondering if anyone would mind if he took a closer look.
Probably not, he decided, hopped the fence, and strolled to the plane.
- He walked around it once, then approached the cockpit door, eager to see how closely
the instrument panel matched the one he had stared at for so many hours on the computer
screen. It was almost identical! Though some of the keyboard and mouse functions were
replaced by the more appropriate levers and switches, the flight instruments stared back
at him like friendly, familiar faces.
- His fingers brushed the door latch. It would be locked, of course. But as he pulled
experimentally it lifted, and the door opened. Davis glanced guiltily around, saw no one,
and slipped into the pilot's seat. His hands and feet fell naturally to the controls. I
could fly this plane, he thought, and glanced at the ignition switch, saw the keys dangling there.
- Let's see. It would be Master Switch "On." His fingers found the switch and pressed it.
The gyros whined softly as they began to spin. Davis glanced across the panel. Ignition switch
to "Start?" He turned the key.
- The propeller clattered through a few revolutions and the engine caught. Some quick work
with the throttle and the plane was purring happily at idle, alive under his hands. He could
fly this plane.
- It took him a few moments to find and release , the parking brake. And the toe
brakes on the rudder pedals were a function that had yet to be enabled on the pair under
his desk. But then the little plane was rolling and he steered it deftly toward the runway,
meticulously checking the instruments and flight controls. Before turning onto the runway
he stopped, scanning the sky for other traffic. Clear.
- Davis carefully aligned the aircraft with the runway center line and advanced the throttle.
The engine roared and the plane began to roll, drifting a little to the left - just like in
the sim! - which he corrected precisely with a touch of right rudder. He alternated his view
between the windshield and the airspeed indicator, feeling the plane grow lighter on its
wheels. At seventy knots he eased back on the stick and the Skycruiser lifted into the air.
Expertly, Davis trimmed it for a climb. He was flying! It was exhilarating. Strange, yet
familiar. So like the sim. He glanced at the ground dropping away beneath him and laughed.
- Davis leveled the plane at a thousand feet and made a gentle left-hand turn, setting up
a rectangular pattern around the airport. Just one circuit, he decided, then he would park
the plane and slip away. He throttled back, lowered the flaps, and prepared to land.
- His approach was too fast, and the runway suddenly seemed all too short. Even as the wheels
touched he knew there was not enough room left to stop, so he prudently opened the throttle
and climbed away again. Not as easy as you thought, he thought. But he'd get the next one right.
- Slower this time, he rolled the aircraft onto final approach. As the runway came into view
he saw he was a little too low, his turn a little too tight. Davis eased back on the stick,
moved it to the right to level the wings.
- Suddenly the Skycruiser was upside down, the nose dropping, the ground beginning to revolve.
A spin! But not his first, after all. Relax the back pressure, opposite rudder. Ground coming
- As the earth spun wildly and rose to meet him, Davis was concerned but still confident.
After all, he had hundreds - thousands! - of hours on the simulation. Always got out of
trouble. Never crashed a plane! Just needed a little time to work this out. Just have to
hit the Pause key . . .