Dear Amelia Earhart
Evening of my solo flight
Is it okay if I call you Amelia? Since now we’ve both officially flown a plane all by ourselves. After my solo flight this morning, I still had regular academic classes all afternoon, and when I went to my car at the end of the day, there was a note on my windshield from my new IP asking me to meet him at the baseball field by the dorms. I assumed that the meet was another first solo ritual. How cool! I hustled over to the on campus dorms and found my instructor near the baseball diamond sitting on the bleachers. I sprinted up the aluminum risers and once I was at his side, he stood. He met me with a grin so wide, it reminded me of the horizon line in flight. After he congratulated me again, his eyes narrowed and he told me to enjoy every minute of my training, since learning to fly is the most thrilling time in a pilot’s career. I listened closely, respecting his experience, guessing that he might just be the mentor I’ve been searching for. Then, he said he had a confession to make, and his brimming grin twisted into an awkward, puckered wince. He rested a hand on my shoulder and said he didn’t want me to hear what he had to say via the flight line scuttlebutt. He admitted he volunteered to take me on as a student when my previous instructor was frustrated with my lackluster performance. Whew, what a relief. I’d already heard this from IP number one. But what I didn’t know was that my original instructor went on to say how it was impossible to teach a student who flew in kitten heels, and that she resented the fact that every time she flew with me, there was a run in with the Flight Sup, and she didn’t think it was in her job description to deal with drama. At this point, every muscle in my stomach had clenched into a pretzel knot. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, he added that my first instructor said that I looked more like Malibu Barbie than an airplane pilot. (Barbie is a doll…oh, never mind, all you need to know is that it wasn’t a compliment.) As he went on talking, his voice sounded like a vinyl record played on 45 speed. Super slo-mo. Fact is, she said, this girl isn’t very serious about becoming a pilot. I felt my chest squeeze, my face surely flushed, and, I’m embarrassed to admit this Amelia, but I had to bite my tongue to stop from crying. I couldn’t believe it. I messed up again. Maybe my first IP was right. Maybe I’m not cut out for this pilot stuff. The exhilaration I’d felt all day faded and my thoughts drifted to the reasons why I didn’t have the “right stuff,” when the instructor standing opposite me grabbed my other shoulder and shook me. He reminded me that on our first flight together, I was wearing sweats and canvas CT hightops. Which made me feel better. Slightly. What I really wanted to ask was why IP numero uno yells at me all the time? Am I really not good enough? But when I looked over at the instructor I barely knew, one who had been so nice to me and helped me gain the confidence to fly solo, I decided not to rock the wings and kept my mouth shut. Which turned out to be a good move, because the IP leaned in and planted a kiss on my lips. Whoa! I pulled away. What was that? Did he get caught up in the moment? I pushed back and put some distance between us. My thoughts swam, pretty sure that if the panty hose experience was any measure, than an instructor kissing a student would be beyond breaking the rules. I figured I had a few choices—run like hell, punch him in the face, or stand up and ask him if he was trying to ruin my life. (Sorry about the cuss word.) I wish you were here Amelia, because I’m sure you’d know what to do. Before I was able to make a decision though, he explained that he was no longer my instructor. Huh? I’m sure I made an expression that mimicked my spiraling thoughts, and then he explained since I’d officially soloed, I would resume training with my old instructor. Not what I expected, and not good news. The best day of my life was quickly going down the tubes. So I did the only thing I could; got up and left.
Just when I thought I was in the clear, the fog rolled in.
Sure would love to know if you ever doubted you’d be a good pilot.
A deflated soloed pilot