Drinking from the Fire Hose

There have been several times in my life when I have stepped so far outside my comfort zone that I was unsure I would ever find my way back.

My J.R.O.T.C. Drill Team

While some of these jaunts were exercises in personal growth, such as performing as a member of my high school J.R.O.T.C. drill team, competing in my local Junior Miss Pageant, and even going away to college, most involved flying.

Some milestones on the path to a pilot’s license are mild comfort zone busters:  first solo, solo cross country, check rides, etc.  Others, such as initial Learjet 35 training at Flightsafety International Inc., are akin to drinking from a fire hose.

Learjet training

Prior to my two week indoctrination into the right seat of the Lear, the most complicated piece of equipment I had flown was a Cessna 310.  Going from this relatively docile aircraft to the bad tempered rodeo bronco that hid behind the sleek facade of the Learjet was exhilarating, terrifying, and so far outside my comfort zone that I couldn’t even speak the local language to ask where I might find a bathroom.

For two weeks, I and three of my colleagues were completely immersed in Lear 35 systems, operating procedures, high altitude and emergency operations, and simulator training.  Each night, I would have nightmares about whatever system we had gone over the day before, certain that I would never, ever, be able to remember even a fraction of the information dispensed.  Each day, we were thrown into the deep end of an unfathomable ocean of information and expected to dog paddle our way back to the shore.

It wasn’t until much later on that I realized the only way to truly learn to operate a Lear was to actually fly it.  At first, you are so far behind in your copilot duties that the captain is essentially flying solo until you catch up, which usually occurs about 30 minutes after landing at your destination.  But eventually, your comfort zone expands to the point that you know the cockpit blindfolded.  And that’s usually about the time you’re ready to upgrade and belly up to the fire hose again.

The moral of this story?  Don’t let fear keep you from drinking from the fire hose.  If I had allowed fear to win, I would never had known the pure, unadulterated joy of flying a Learjet.  Who knows what you may miss out on if you won’t break free of your comfort zone?



14 thoughts on “Drinking from the Fire Hose

  1. Kudos to you for sticking in there and learning how to do it! I took flying lessons when I was a kid, and liked it, though not enough to pursue flying anything but a twin engine cessna. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do …” And that’s something I try to live by. Sometimes doing the difficult and scary thing brings the best results.

    1. Thank you, Tracey, for both the gift of Eleanor Roosevelt’s words (she was one very smart lady) and for sharing a bit of your own experiences with flying. It’s always nice to meet another pilot and flying a twin engine Cessna is an exceptional accomplishment in it’s own right – Kudos right back atcha!

  2. Good words, tt. I find it rewarding when I overcome my little fears and do something different. I just don’t do that enough! We are all our own worst enemies and detractors, huh? I’m so impressed with what you’ve done with your life, though!

    1. SDS, it’s true, we are absolutely our own worst enemies most of the time. I, for one, have much higher expectations for myself than I believe others have for me. And along with that, much more severe penalties (usually a good mental flogging) should I not live up to those expectations. I think that grabbing the fear by the throat to choke the life out of it is sometimes a better option than punishing myself for not being the Superwoman I dearly wish I could be.
      And you, my dear, are way more impressive. I love reading your blog and your artwork is simply stunning. I’m very happy that I put aside my fear of writing so that I could get to know so many wonderful people like you!

  3. Reblogged this on totallytawn and commented:

    Having completed my Unsanctioned Imitation of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I decided to take one more day off in honor of May Day and reblog my post with the most page views -over 1000! Holy Cow! Thanks for reading and Happy May Day!

  4. You rock!! In my world, you are a rock star, because that’s what pilots are!! LOVE this post!!

  5. You’re post reminds me of this classic scene in an old John Wayne movie, Hondo, where he teaches a young boy how to swim by simply putting him in that situation that demands he learn out of necessity. Though it doesn’t show it in this YouTube clip, the boy does dog paddle his way over to the shore on the other side of the creek.

    Experience is indeed the best teacher.

    1. Thanks for the clip – I’ve never seen that movie.

      As for experience being the best teacher, sometimes I prefer other people’s mistakes to my own when it comes to life lessons. 😉

  6. I remember, we were sitting in first class. We put our hands up during takeoff like we were on a roller coaster. Wheeeeee!

    1. LOL! Remember the instructor? Every other word out of his mouth during breaks was “sonofab*tch” until he looked at me and apologized. I told him that I didn’t mind, as my vocabulary of expletives was better than his.

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