Yawing, not yacking

I didn’t end up being sick, but nearly painted the inside of the small cockpit in half digested muesli.  It was 2000 and my father’s workmate, MT, was an avid private pilot who offered to take me for a fly prior to a rugby game I was to play on a cool Saturday morning.  I jumped at the opportunity faster than a mouse to cheese.  Arriving at Archerfield airport, MT showed me around this little aircraft and helped me to strap in.  I could hardly contain my excitement, asking many questions I’m sure were trivial at the time.  The roar of the engine coming to life, the smell of AVGAS and the instrument panel lighting up in front of me; my dream was taking a stride into reality.  We took off and enjoyed the beauty of the fine Brisbane morning.  I was given the controls to have a feel of what flying an aircraft was like and for the first time I can remember I knew that this is where I belonged.  We proceeded to conduct some turns, climbs and descents, followed by some stalls in the aircraft.  A stall is where there isn’t enough airflow over the wings to generate lift to keep the aircraft flying so it beings to buffet and sink like a rock.  To recover, you simply add full power and push the nose forward until you get sufficient airspeed to enable a return to controlled flight.  This was my first experience doing, what I considered then, a rough manoeuvre.  It was about here that I started to taste the muesli I had only an hour prior.  I tried not to think about it as I wanted to keep a brave face for MT.  I also didn’t want to think that I would always feel this way when I flew in the future.  What caused me to start to look for the sick bags was when he demonstrated the effect of yaw in one direction then another.  To put it simply, this involves pushing the nose of the aircraft left or right of the relative airflow using the rudder pedals at your feet.  Having a quick look around, there were no sick bags to be seen and I sure as anything wasn’t about to ask MT for one.  We flew a few minutes longer then headed home back to Archerfield for a landing involving me swallowing at an alarming rate.  The moment we touched down I instantly felt fine and I’m sure he was none the wiser.  The excitement filled within me again as I told dad on the way to my match how epic the experience was.  A few months later, I found out why I felt so sick.  My very first professional flying instructor pilot told me that whenever you start to feel a little queasy, look outside the aircraft.  Whilst I didn’t need to use this lesson at the Lynx Space Academy, I gave this advice to a number of my competitors and many told me it helped, particularly during the zero-g “vomit comet” experience.

Click for a short clip of flying

COMING UP: Testing times

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