The Day I Flew Around the Water Tower | Travel Research Online


The Day I Flew Around the Water Tower

If there is any truth to the belief that a good story is both entertaining and memorable, you are about to enjoy the information in my columns for the next few months. I am about to share with you my personal experiences that come equipped with some valuable lessons.

The first of these lessons come to you from 2500 feet above sea level. It was during my check ride, which requires a passing grade while flying alongside an FAA flight inspector. I was in the left seat of a Cessna 152 and I felt I was prepared for the “exam.” I read the books, practiced my landings, and felt confident that I would soon be a federally licensed single-engine aircraft pilot.



One of the tests involved maintaining full control of the aircraft while being pushed around by winds coming from four different directions. The book made it clear how to maintain control and position with the wind accelerating your speed prior to sliding you strongly to the left, then right. When heading directly into the wind, another set of skills came into play.

When the inspector asked me to fly over to a distant water tower, I had a good idea of what she had in mind. She wanted me to fly around the water tower while positioning the permanent object directly below my left wing regardless of which direction the wind was coming from. I was to fly in a perfect circle around the water tower. This my friends, sounds a lot easier than it actually is.

Once I began my initial turn my mind flash to page 172 of my flight manual, and I tried to recall the exact sequence of the left and right pedals being coordinated with the wheel. I began my turn only to witness the water tower slowly drifting toward the horizon.

The flight inspector politely suggested I return to position “A” and try to execute the 360-degree maneuver again. My mind flipped to page 172. I exerted less pressure with my left foot and a little more with my right. I gently applied pressure and pulled the nose up remembering what was suggested in the flight manual. For a second time, the water tower was quickly fading away.

At the time, I remembered thinking that maybe I really didn’t want to become a pilot after all. And if this was indeed the case, my performance was about to ensure this very outcome. This is when I heard somebody screaming at me. “Mike, I want you to fly back to that water tower and fly around it keeping it directly under your left wing. Got it? I want you to forget about everything you read in that flight manual and go back and fly around that water tower.”

And that is exactly what I did. It was time to stop thinking about books, lessons, instructional videos, tips, guides, checklists, how-to PDFs, etc. It was time to stop confusing the issue and start taking control of my aircraft. It was time to fly around the water tower. Period!

You probably know the outcome. That afternoon, I officially became a certified single-engine airplane pilot. I will never forget the day my flight inspector told me to let my muscle memory take control and do what needed doing.

Bottom Line: There is a time to “think,” and there is a time to “do.”

A day or two later, the lesson I learned from that harrowing experience became crystal clear. I hope today’s story is just as clear for you. There is a time for study. There is a time for instruction. There is a time to practice. There is a time to think. There is a time to learn. And after all your hard work and preparation has been meticulously attended to, there is a time to perform like a well-rehearsed artist.

Having prepared properly and with a little prodding at the right time, I finally put two and two together and flew around the water tower. In your case, however, your final result will look a little different than mine. It will soon be time for you to (1) get up, (2) get out, and (3) make more people glad they know you.

Always keep your eyes on the horizon, and always keep the wind beneath your wings.


A headshot of the author, Mike Marchev

Mike Marchev is always looking for a few more proactive travel professionals to join his Sales and Marketing Club.

*** You want more to think about? Check out my weekly podcast (Mike’d Up Marchev). Also listed on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google, and iHeartRadio.

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