I can fly

In my previous article, I wrote about learning from reading, will you be able to undertake a task after reading.

I have many interests and hobbies in my life, and as Dale Winton once told me when he was a DJ on Radio Trent, “Phillip, you have unusual hobbies“.

One of my interests is aircraft, and flying. I wanted to join the British RAF as an air traffic controller, even going to the officer selection section which lasted for a grueling three days at the RAF Station Biggin Hill.

I love to research about aircraft, the old aircraft, Spitfires, Hurricanes the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (SM.79), and always had the ambition to fly one to become a pilot.

Way back when I was much younger, I took a trial flying lesson, the cost was too much to continue, but what an experience. I loved it, but got totally confused and disorientated when the instructor asked me to turn the aircraft in a 360 degree turn. I was completely lost, as I had no barrings, nothing to tell me as I looked out of the cockpit window in which direction was I heading as I started the turn and thus not knowing when to stop the turn. There were no houses, trees, signposts, just open sky. I failed to take a compass heading before I started the maneuver.

Since then I have read many books on aircraft, on flying skills, I have learned about the process of flying, how an aircraft stays up in the air, I know the terms and language a pilot will use.

During a recent trip to Italy, my friend and colleague Gianni Golfera, said he would take me and teach me to fly. Gianni is a very experienced pilot, having his own stunt plane, and I understand an ex world stunt champion.

We set off one morning to a local airfield and booked a single engined aircraft, Gianni wanted to go to another airfield where his own stunt plane was parked so he could practice some maneuvers.

Phillip Holt getting ready to fly in Italy
Phillip Holt getting ready to fly in Italy

After the pre fight checks, Gianni started to tell me the does and dont’s of flying an aircraft as we began to taxi to the end of the runway.

My heart was in my mouth, and thumping ten to the dozen as we raced down the runway and shot into the sky.

Phillip Holt in the aircraft cockpit and the aircrafts' controls  Phillip Holt in the aircraft cockpit and the aircrafts' controls
Phillip Holt in the aircraft cockpit and the aircrafts’ controls.

My mind was going through all I had learned, from the books I had read, from the previous flying lesson so many years ago, when Gianni said “you have the controls“, and I found myself holding onto the joystick, stiff as a board, trying to keep the aircraft at the same altitude and flying in a straight line.

One minute I was at 3,000 feet, the next I was climbing, only to then find myself diving as I over compensated trying to get back to the correct height.

Before I could get used to this alien experience, Gianni took back control so that we could land at the new airfield, and he could take to the air in his stunt plane. There would be no way that you would find me in that plane.

Gianni Golfera and his stunt plane
Gianni Golfera and his stunt plane

I watched Gianni going through his paces, taking a video for him as he looped the loop, and I reflected on my experience.

My mind knew what to do when I was at the controls, but my body did not. My muscles did not react as I wanted them to do, they were uncooperative. So, I spent time running through in my mind the flight, relaxing my body, teaching my eyes how to read the instruments, how to read the horizon, the landmarks through the front and side windows, and noticed that as I was flying, there were body sensations I had missed, which told me if I was turning left or right, going up or down.

Even though I was standing on the ground waiting for Gianni to land, I was able to rehearse in my head and involve my whole body how to fly, by reliving the experience.

Once Gianni had finished his practice, we got into the rather slower and thankfully less maneuverable aircraft we had flown in with, and headed down the runway to head back to where we had start earlier. Then the aircraft began to shudder, and emit strange noises. Gianni aborted the flight, and parked the aircraft, saying there was something wrong and we would have to go back by road, leaving the aircraft for an engineer to look over.

So my second lesson was not to be.

A few days later, we were due to drive up to Milan for me to give a PhotoReading course, and Gianni picked me up early from the hotel, and took me for my second lesson.

This time my mind was prepared, I had rehearsed my body to relax, my mind was ready to accept feedback from all my senses, and I had Phillip’s Sausage in place.

Once in the air, and I took control of the aircraft, I forced myself to relax, to enjoy the experience, and began to move the controls, to get feedback as to what happened as I moved the joystick forwards or backwards, turned it to the left or right, and then combinations.

I could now recall what I had read, and experiment, and as I did, calibrating what my senses were telling me, to what the aircrafts’ instruments were showing, to what I was seeing outside.

I had control.

Now I had time to enjoy this new alien form of transport, and was able to take time to look at the landscape, the small lakes with water birds far below, I watched the coastline slip below me, making fine adjustments so to keep the aircraft on the course Gianni wanted, following his instructions with easy movements, to change direction, to head to the new airfield so he could practice in his stunt plane again.

On the return flight back, I again took control, and this time it was easier, with practice, I was getting better.

Learning has to be a whole body experience. My body had experienced flying before, maybe many years before, but I believe that once we have learned something, once we have experienced something, it is there for life, and all that is needed is for the right stimulus, the right trigger to be given and the old learning will surface.

In NLP it is said:- 

do something once, you can do it again


Immediately after finishing the PhotoReading course in Milan, I had to get to Istanbul, Turkey, and it was with joy that as we flew over the coastline of Italy, I looked down, to see the very same area I had taken control of that little aircraft, the very same lakes.

I felt good. Thank you Gianni.

I have so much more to learn.

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