January 15, 2020

Journey Into Aviation

I changed my mind about the travel diary. instead, you get to hear about how my aviation hobby was revived over winter break. I’ve always been semi-interested in aviation, but I haven’t had the means to pursue it. I’m too legally blind to actually get a pilot’s license at the moment, so the best I can do is simulators. Until now, that wasn’t really a thing either, but watching a YouTube video resparked the whole thing. So I proceeded to download X-Plane and get into it.

I wasn’t really sure if I’d actually stick to it, because I never have in the past. I actually had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I started, and it was more of a “let’s do this because I’m really bored” kind of thing. I hopped into a Cessna 172 SP and started following the tutorial. Didn’t really go that well because I was literally playing with mouse and keyboard, but hey! I didn’t crash!

But if you know anything about me, you know that I’m really impatient and like going all the way as quickly as possible. So I did a couple of tutorials in the Cessna, thought “this is easy,” and proceeded to hop into a Boeing 737-800. Did not go well at all. It took a couple hours for me to figure out how to actually turn the thing on (airliners are complicated lol) and then another five minutes to figure out how to get the pushback tag going. Then, it was another thirty minutes to realize that I shouldn’t be taxiing over 30 knots (may or may not have overran the field a few times before realizing this).

On the second day, I was able to take off. Next issue was realizing that the pressure sensors and stuff (you know, the things that keep you from blacking out) weren’t on. Then I couldn’t figure out how to level out (remember how I didn’t really go through all the tutorials?). Turns out it helps to know how throttles and flaps work.

On the third day, I was able to take off and cruise without blacking out. I tried to land, didn’t figure out how to slow down or deploy speedbrakes or flaps, and crashed all five times I tried. Gave up and instead decided to learn how the autopilot works. That took the rest of the day.

On the fourth day, I could fly on autopilot and not have to do anything during cruise. I spent all day trying to learn how to land, and by the end of the day I realized that the best way for me to land is to learn how autoland works and let it do its thing. I then proceeded to shift my focus to flying long distances, so I hopped in a Boeing 777-300ER. Flew all the way around the world only to absolutely overrun the field and crash in Germany.

Fast-forward a week, I’d learned the ins and outs of the B738, sort of figured out the B77W, and shifted gears to shorter flights in an Embraer E-195. Have yet to figure that one out actually.

Moral of the story is, I had a great time over winter break. What started off as a time-killer resparked an old hobby that I had never actually dug into. Now, I try to fly at least once a week, even if it’s just a short flight (usually KLAX to KSFO because I know that route like the back of my hand now) to stay in touch with it, and I honestly learn something new every time I fly. I personally thing that’s amazing, because the world of aviation is so complicated that it’s extremely daunting to try to get everything down. Instead, being able to pursue my hobby in a relaxed way that doesn’t involve life-threatening risks is pretty cool.

I know this post was pretty much all over the place, but I genuinely got so excited about recounting the week where I learned flight simming that I didn’t really pay attention to structure. Plus, this blog is pretty much a brain dump anyway. Signing off.

© Vanshaj Singhania. All rights reserved.