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Duh! I meant a challenge I could *do*!

7 March 2013

As I mentioned on Facebook recently, I took my first helicopter piloting lesson last weekend. After a bit of simulator time, I found myself in the pilot seat of a Robinson R22, taking off from a regional Texas airport.

This is not the vehicle you want to fly unless you have no fear of death.

This is not the vehicle you want to fly unless you have no fear of death.

My instructor seemed to have a very “throw him to the wolves” teaching style, which I very much appreciate. I was flying the thing before I knew it, and felt like we were rolling and pitching all over the place. Any movement you make in that chopper — a slight twitch of the wrist — feels like it sends you careening off in a direction you hadn’t intended. This was bad enough in the simulator, but 1600 feet above downtown Fort Worth, it was terrifying.

It wasn’t easy. I didn’t jump right into that tiny sheet-metal aircraft and just start throwing it around the skies like a pro. I felt like I was — not to put too fine a point on it — sucking. And I’m going back for more.

It helps that my instructor did mention I wasn’t sucking as bad as I thought I was, and that I shouldn’t expect to judge my performance on the first flight. Really, I should be judging my comfort level (which started out as pants-shitting terror before easing into “OK, I won’t kill us both”) and my how much I liked it (which was “tons,” even during the pants-shitting terror phase).

I guess my point is that just because something is hard — very hard, in this instance — doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. And something that’s easy — like, really easy — might not be worth doing at all.

What’s the biggest learning curve you’ve faced with a new skill? How did you get on top of that curve?

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