Ranking up there as one of the best “We Nevers,” we took to the skies again, this time flying a helicopter. This was huge for me for two reasons: Not only have I never flown a helicopter, I’ve never even been up in one.
Unlike flying the plane (or fixed wing as this newly-ordained one-afternoon helicopter pilot likes to call it), we actually had a fair amount of instruction before we started, even practicing on a simulator. They obviously wanted us to know what we were doing and I wondered if they really expected me to remember when to push forward and back, how to tell if the nose was up or down (harder to tell than you’d think) and when to pull the center stick. All this while trying to remain calm so as not to hold the controls too tightly (we learned that’s very bad). Luckily their expectations of me were as low as my own and the pilot had 14,000 hours under his belt so he wasn’t going to let me screw up too much.
The helicopter was super small – only fitting 2 – so Erin and I took turns. Once we lifted off, I immediately did something wrong (I don’t recall now what it was). Our instructor chastised me and I whined that I couldn’t remember everything taught that day. The whining worked, he backed off, and I pretty quickly became more comfortable with being up in a bubble following along the 405 freeway. The actual flight was very quick – it felt like we had just gotten airborne and then had to land – but it was truly awesome! In fact, in my very narrow one-flight experience, the helicopter has now trumped the airplane.