September 3, 1998

        Post-first flight

Dear Ms. Earhart,

Man, did I mess up. Today might have been the worst day of my life. It didn’t start out that way though. I woke up early, rested, excited for my first official flying lesson. I even showed up at the flight line super early. (Only lazy people are tardy, or so my grandfather always says.) I camped out in the flight planning room and checked the weather reports. The skies were clear and a million (CAVU––I heard another pilot use that term; an upperclassman; a real pro.) Which I understand means clear skies and visibility unlimited. Also, the winds were less than 5 knots and blowing straight down the runway. Unbelievable, right? I walked out on the flight line and checked the windsock to make sure the reports were true. They were! I pinched myself and went back into operations to wait for my I.P. (Instructor pilot; Am I catching onto the lingo or what?) I held my breath as the pack of I.P.s flooded the planning area. I wondered which one would teach me to fly. Then, I saw her.  A lady in tailored slacks and a pressed white blouse. She crossed the doorway threshold and everyone in the room looked up. Her classic aviator sunglasses hung from a string wrapped around her neck and her wavy brown hair was secured into a low ponytail. Her dark, steady eyes narrowed and she clenched a steel clipboard to her chest. I understood why every guy in the room was staring at her. She was clearly an aviatrix. (Not to mention, the only other girl besides me.) “Aaron,” she said and made eye contact with the guys at the planning desks. Is that my instructor? I swallowed, feeling like I had scored a perfect “10” on the balance beam. Starstruck, I must of not heard when she repeated my name, since she turned on a heel and started out of the room. “Wait, I’m here!” I shouted and gathered my gear. When she spun back around her eyes narrowed. “You’re Aaron?” Yes, I told her and she scanned my outfit. I mentally patted myself on the back for the strong wardrobe choice and told her what a pleasure it was to meet her. She lead me towards dispatch to get our airplane assignment, and when we were nearly at the door, a voice hollered, “Stop!” The man, I quickly learned, was the Flight Line Supervisor. He came around the desk dropped to his knees, lifted my pant leg and touched my bare ankles. “You are in violation of the flight line dress code,” he said and squinted at my instructor. “All students must wear pantyhose or socks while flying.” My IP glanced at my feet and grimaced. Every student in the room rolled eyes. I apologized over and over, and explained I read all the dress code protocols and had no idea about the sock/pantyhose rule. The Flight Sup took the plane’s clip board away from my instructor and declared our flight cancelled until I met the dress code. Cancelled? I turned to my instructor and she shrugged her shoulders. She said that if I was serious about being a pilot, I needed to play by the rules. Before I could say another word, she shook her head and walked away. Beyond mortified, I ran after her and asked when I could come back. She told me that I’m scheduled daily, unless of course I showed up dressed inappropriately. When I promised to go out an by knee highs, my I.P. slid on her sunglasses. Amelia, I was so embarrassed. A million times worse than when I made the faux pas in ground school.

Deflated,

A girl who has had her wings clipped

p.s. Sidebar––I’m not an expert in chemistry, but aren’t pantyhose super flammable?