Taking to the Sky
You’ve now learned the basics of getting your wing overhead in preparation for takeoff. It’s time to let the wing do all the work. You will fully realize by now that it wants to fly, creating an amazing amount of lifting force. Only a few easy steps down the hill are needed to gently pluck you off the ground. Now your job is to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
As we mentioned previously, flying really is the easy part. The more you relax and don’t overthink it, the easier it will be. Of course this is also always easier said than done! But the point is, your goal is to settle into a natural rhythm of flight and have fun.
The skills that were learned while kiting on the ground will serve you well in the sky. You want to keep the wing directly overhead, but it will be constantly shifting around, to varying degrees. At first, you will not know the correct control input response, but your instructor will be guiding you through these inputs over the radio. You will quickly realize that these are the same reactions you learned while kiting. It is all starting to make sense now!
Like kiting, the fine control of the wing in flight is an art that you will practice your entire flying career. For now, you simply want to grasp the basics. You will learn the dynamics of a turn and how to properly enter and exit one. The majority of your first flights will be dedicated to this one maneuver, and you will become increasingly more comfortable executing faster and deeper turns. This will lead into anticipating where you want to go in the sky, and how to use turns to efficiently make your way there.
Each flight will end with a standard approach, consisting of all legs of a proper pattern. You will be slowly learning to judge glide slope and how it is affected by the wind. Your instructor will talk you through the pattern, and where to make your turns in order to maintain the proper glide slope in varying wind conditions. You will be starting to develop a sense of the proper sight picture for a good pattern and approach. Your goal is to land in a small area, but there will be plenty of room for the inevitable short or long landing.
As you progress through these first flights, your instructor will slowly reduce the amount of input given to you over the radio. Once you are able to set up a proper pattern and land in a designated area consistently without radio input, you will be signed off to fly unsupervised at the site in calm conditions. Your goal will now be to accumulate the necessary number of flights to earn your P2 rating.