Special Report: Learning how to fly - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Special Report: Learning how to fly


It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, sitting down in the cockpit and taking control of an airplane. I was invited to take on this challenge, and it's one I was very willing to accept. So buckle up, as I take you on my bumpy ride with the Wausau Flying Service in my adventures of learning how to fly.

Learning to fly isn't easy. And while the payoff is definitely worth it, the process starts long before you even leave the ground.

"Radio's and electrical switches are off except for the beacon, fuses and circuit breakers are all in."

The adventure starts on a crisp fall morning. Flight instructor Gil Buettner says it's perfect for flying.

"The first lesson I think is to familiarize the student with the way the controls work in an airplane, but also to maybe remove any apprehension they have about flying small airplanes," said Buettner.

"We start out by turning on the master switch, checking the level of fuel in the gauges and putting the flats down."

After a few more checks, Buettner gives the green light. And says we're ready for take off. Our destination, Merrill municipal airport. And then I found out, I was in control.

"Just smoothly push the throttle all the way until it stops keep your hands on the throttle just in case you know a deer comes out on the runway or something you can easily pull it back right away," said Buettner.

My nerves quickly fade as the airplane lifts off the runway.

"When you take off and you get a view that nobody else has, it's so special and so intoxicating and so addicting that you just want to do it everyday if you can," said Buettner.

It's a feeling unlike any other, and a view that you can't get anywhere else.

The beautiful scenery had this first time pilot a little distracted.

"Try to keep the nose the same distance above and below the horizon but the problem is it's going to look different in a left turn and a right turn because your not seated in the middle of the airplane your on one side," said Buettner. 

As we started our descent, Buettner took over the controls.

"Alright so I'm going to start down now, so what I'm going to do is take over the controls," he said.

"Teaching landings in general is also very challenging probably the hardest thing to learn, in my experience you need to have about 80 to 100 landings before we can safely let you go up by yourself," said Buettner.

Buettner has been teaching people to fly for more than 10 years. It's an adventure that anyone can sign up for. But it's a commitment of both time and money. A one time flight lesson at the Wausau Flying Service will cost around $100. For the overall package and receiving your pilot certificate, it's about $8,000. But the view and the journey are priceless.

In about 20 minutes, we were safely on the ground.

But mastering the art of flying is a different story. One I'll try to conquer in my next flight lesson.

But it didn't end there. Join me on my next flight Thursday night. I'll try to master some steep turn and changing altitudes. As we go learning how to fly Thursday on Newsline 9 at 10.

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