It was 31 years ago Sunday, October 25 when I landed my first airplane. As an entrepreneur, I was a risk taker, but this was frightening. Plus, this was 1984 and women weren’t allowed to borrow money from a bank without the signature of a man!
I wanted to learn to fly since my husband, Earl, was a pilot. I figured I needed to at least know how to land the airplane in case we ever got in trouble. So, I enrolled in ground school. It was so difficult that after the second class, I went home and told Earl I wasn’t going back. It was just too technical, too complicated, too mechanical, and the instruments were difficult to comprehend. In his usual tone of voice, he told me to stop and “get myself to studying and go back to class”. So, I sucked it up and went back to class and I studied non- stop for days. When it came time to take the test, I was a basket case. They check your driver’s license to make sure you are who you say you are and you are seated away from others so you can’t cheat. The test is 4 hours long. As I went through the test, the answers seemed to be pretty easy. When I finished, I took my test up to the examiner and realized that it had only been an hour. I was concerned so I went back to the desk and read the questions again and changed my weight and balance answer (refigured it and came up with a different number). Then, I took my test back to the examiner. Upon handing it to him, he asked me if I was kin to Earl Neese? I gulped and said yes. He said, “well, then, you probably know what you are doing!” Turned out that he had signed off on Earl flying years and years earlier. Small world.
Now, to the learning to actually fly the airplane. Ground school work is only good for two years and I waited until the last minute (90 days away from the two year period) to start flight school. I ended up flying almost every day with Sherry Nelson in Guthrie in order to get my 40 hours in. The day I did my first solo landing, Earl was on the ground watching me. He told me that the palms of his hands were dropping with sweat he was so nervous for me. As I took off it felt GREAT to be alone in the air—FLYING BY MYSELF!! As I made the turn to final for landing, every nerve in my body was on point! I greased the wheels on the runway. There is no doubt that was the best landing I ever did. Perfect in fact. It proved to me that I was not only a risk taker, but I was gutsy and could do anything I went after. It built character and stamina for my spirit and I loved flying. Earl and I flew all over the country and we had some close calls. Hard to believe it was 31 years ago when I flew my first plane and landed it in Guthrie, Oklahoma. By the way, what did I earn on that exam? I missed one answer. The one I changed about the weight and balance.