Cold, transparent butterflies swoop up and around my stomach as we gradually approach the airport. I look out the window. The sky was concrete grey and large clouds drift over top of smooth and rough terrain. Tapping lightly, the rain falls out of the sky splashing on any surface it can get on. I catch a glimpse of the airport through patches of trees then spot a small Cessna holding short of runway 02.
“That'll be me soon!” I whisper inside my head.
We pull up outside of NAC (Nelson Aviation College). I’m so nervous. A few seconds later I jump out of the car. Stretching, I spot a small Cessna 172 parked outside the hangar.
“I wonder if that’s mine?”
Slowly, we walk into the building then take a seat on the two blue couches.
“Great news! The rain clouds are about to pass over, so come on out,” says one of the instructors.
‘Hhhhhahhh…’ I let out a big sigh as we walk over to the plane…
Placing my foot on the gear support I pull myself up into the cockpit. Just in front of me, I grab my headset then position it comfortably over my ears.
‘Blgh, blgh, bllllghhhhh, bllllllgggggghh!’ stuttered the engine.
Seconds later the propellor roars up! Beneath me, the three wheels roll along the grass and onto the taxiway. “Wow, are we actually doing this?”
The scorching sun peers into my eyes as we align with the center line on the runway. Beginning to feel a lot more excited, I throttle forward, we begin to pick up speed… The nose wheel lifts up and the rear gear follows. Beneath me, the gap between us and the tarmac rapidly grows! Pretty quickly, we reach 5000 ft. Then I get told to bank to the left. I do so. We level out as I admire the beautiful view.
Casually looking over my shoulder, my instructor is tightly holding her chest and is short of breath! Suddenly, she falls forward and onto the control column unconscious! The nose sharply dips down! Gripping the yoke tensely, I pull her off the controls and into an upright position against the chair. I attempt to gain control of the aircraft. Managing to, I look behind me. Realising I'm 45° from the threshold, I begin to turn for the base leg.
Focused, I align with the runway. Next to me remains the unconscious instructor. My stomach feels hollow. I begin to pass over the threshold, so I put the throttle down to 0%.
“The moment of truth!...” I mumble.
Slowly, pulling back on the yoke, the rear wheels lightly brush the runway... Then touchdown! Gently, the nose wheel lowers. Smoothly it skims the tarmac. Pressuring both rudder pedals, the brakes engage. Finally, after what seemed a lifetime, we stop in the middle of the runway. I sigh of relief. Then suddenly, smoke begins to seep into the cabin!