Laser-Focused—Flying a Single-Seat Airplane


Laser-Focused—Flying a Single-Seat Airplane ~Guest Blogger Beth Stanton, NAFI eMentor Editor

Nobody can teach you how to fly a single-seat airplane. Once you and your instructor establish confidence in your competence, at some point you just have to suck it up and do it. Cruising back to the hangar on my bike after a third anxious pee, the thought of bailing crossed my mind.

I had already called the Livermore tower to warn them. My coach was on frequency with a handheld radio. All that was left was to strap on my parachute and climb into the tiny cockpit. Wrestling with the five-point harness, I wondered, “What the hell am I doing?” Once the engine roared to life, I was pure focus.

The experimental Laser is a mid wing aerobatic monoplane that weighs about 1,000 pounds with 230 hp — basically a rocket ship compared to the Super Decathlon. The airplane leapt off the runway and I zoomed to the practice area.

Practicing climbs, descents, steep turns, and slow flight, I acclimated to the Laser’s feather-light controls. It was more like wearing an engine and wings rather than operating a machine. The only aerobatics I performed was a loop and a roll. Overshadowing the maiden voyage was the fact that I still had to land this thing.

The landing brief for a slippery fuel-injected airplane with no flaps or lights is brief — 100 mph, and the spinner on the numbers. The advice from my coach echoed in my ears, “If you’re not 100 percent sure, go around.” My approach was nice and stable but as I chopped the throttle, the plane sank faster than anticipated. As the runway loomed, I was only 95.7 percent sure. I went around. 

“Pull the power slower,” my coach said on the radio. That landing was so soft I didn’t realize I had touched the ground. Back at the hangar, after switching off the mags, the silence was deafening. Reaching over, I was surprised to see my hand shaking so hard I could barely unlatch the canopy. There had been no room for nerves; my sole concentration had been to fly the plane, Laser-focused.

Watch Beth fly aerobatics in the Laser here:

Beth StantonBeth Stanton
NAFI eMentor Editor
NAFI #225396





Blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace independent, professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinions or position of the National Association of Flight Instructors. NAFI does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented. Readers should note content may appear in various media, including print, email, enews without further notice.
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