Thursday, November 24, 2011

Take "do a barrel roll" out for a spin


I’ve never particularly enjoyed doing aerobatics and therefore Google’s latest easter egg “do a barrel roll” didn’t hold a whole lot of interest for me. But still. I kinda wanted to see it. At least once. (Go to Google’s home page Google Home Page and type in “do a barrel roll.” The whole page flips around.) Watching that page rotate gave me horrible flashbacks to every time in my flying career that I’d ever been exposed to aerobatics.

But it did make me laugh out loud. Which is more than I can say for the spins I was forced to do as a flight student. In order to become a Certified Flight Instructor, which I needed to become in order to gain flight time, I had to learn spins. Spins. Not barrel rolls. Not split S’s or loops. Just spins. I hated spins. In order for the Beechcraft Sport I flew to do a spin, the fuel tanks could only be filled halfway as opposed to the full tanks we usually left with. When I would come in from my preflight inspection, after having noticed the half empty (yes, pessimistically half empty) tanks I would be three shades paler than when I’d left.

My instructor, one of the best pilots I’ve ever known, forced me to do spins over and over. And over. It was like he scared the fear of them out of me. In order for me to become certified as an instructor I had to do two solo spins, one to the left and one to the right. While the temptation when flying solo was to just say I’d done them, I did do them. Only once. One to the left and one to the right.

Eventually as an instructor, I had to start teaching spins to my students. Most of them seemed to enjoy rapidly spinning downward toward the earth at an unnatural angle in an airplane. I know! But what perhaps made me the proudest, was when a few other instructors began asking me to take their students up for the lesson on spins. Because they didn’t want to. Because they hated spins. And I did take their students up and I taught them to spin.

While they will never be one of my favorite things in terms of actually doing them in an airplane, spins are one of my favorite things in terms of doing something that I was afraid of and mastering it. The little flip my stomach did when I watched Google’s home page turn upside down reminded me of all that, something I hadn’t thought about in years, and so thanks Google, for your latest easter egg, which made this former spin-a-phobe smile.

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