So I'm learning to fly airplanes. Nothing too fancy, just a basic private pilot's license and maybe instrument flight afterwards. (I'm training in a Skyhawk SP out of San Carlos with Paolo Resmini). My partner Ken has been flying for 20 years so this is something we can do together, and it's a challenge a bit outside my comfort zone so seemed a good thing to do.
The biggest challenges of flying an airplane are attention management and responding correctly to the current situation. There's a lot going on in the cockpit: three to eight gauges, the radio, navigation, not to mention keeping the wings level and avoiding hitting the ground. And when something gets complicated you don't have a lot of time to think. So a lot of the seventy or so hours of training for a PPL is practicing things over and over until proper procedure is ingrained. The training sounds boring, but a good instructor is always pushing you just beyond what you can comfortably handle.
I was a great student in school. But entirely because I would out-think the problems, I was terrible at memorization or practice. I remember getting in trouble in 3rd grade because I couldn't pass my multiplication tests fast enough. See, I didn't bother memorizing the times tables for 8 because I knew you could just multiply by four and then double it. That's the kind of student I am, and it's not what you need to be to learn to fly. There's definitely some thinking learning to being a pilot, particularly when it comes to navigation or understanding why you do stuff. But there's way more practice, and memorization, and developing the right instincts. It's a challenge for me, I'm liking it.
PS: after my last aviation post a couple of people were kind enough to say they'd like to read more about flying. So I plan to write some, but not the blog-post-per-lesson I obsessively was considering.