"Take a good
look around," he suggested.
I already was,
but it didn't help any because it was the first time I had surveyed the island
since my sightseeing "familiarization flight" tour, and practically the
entire island is surrounded by beach. Finally, with some prompting from Steve,
I found my way back to the county field and started all over, following that
reliable highway home and developing a strong interest in learning how to use
my compass. "Sure scares me," Steve said when we landed, but in the
pilots' lounge he told the others he was getting ready to jump out on me.
dare send me up alone, I thought. Look at what I might do up there by
But they did, and
not many days later, either. I had had one good lesson, when Steve climbed in
beside me and said he would ride around with me once and then let me take it
away. "Put your radio on," he said. "I'll stay inside and you can
ask all the questions you want." I was ready to go and had none of the
expected jitters, but that day turned out to be like waiting for the imminent
arrival of the stork, because I never did get up alone. The wind blew hard, and
he flew with me onto every runway at Katama and also the county field, never
satisfied that conditions were right. I waited two hours in the morning for the
wind to swing around, then two hours after lunch, and finally gave it up and
went to a clambake.
In the early
evening Steve called me at the Harborside to see if I wanted to go out to the
field with him while he took the barriers off the new runway to try it out. He
had kept it closed until the grass got a start and it was dried out enough. We
landed on it twice, at the end and in the middle. "Seem skiddy?" he
asked. I shrugged, not sure how skiddy was skiddy. "Well, see that pile of
dirt at the side of the runway?" He opened the door, and I thought he was
going to put up markers on it and have me turn the plane around and come back
for him. "I'll be sitting right on top of it," he said, "take your
time, watch your wind, add power when you need it."
you're leaving me?" I was astounded. All day I had been ready. Now, testing
a new runway, the wind blowing harder than ever—about 25 knots, he had said—it
was the furthest thing from my mind. He had asked me before how many drinks I
had at the clambake, and I thought at the time that he was carrying this close
relationship of instructor-student a little too far. Now I knew he had been
planning this all along.
right," he said, backing off from the plane. "You've been flying in
plenty of turbulence, you won't let this little bit of wind bother you. Just
take your time and watch that rough spot over the farm."
"Now wait a
minute.... There's something I wanted to ask you before...." But I couldn't
think what it was.
"Watch me as
you come in. If I wave you off, give it full power right away and go around
again. Don't be afraid to use that throttle."