Sometimes in life lessons come in the most unexpected way …
It was a nice sunny Sunday in April and my partner and I decided to have a short break on the Isle of Wight, as it is quite close from where we live and it is in a sensible flying distance for a small motor glider. I love the sea, always did and possibly always will do, as I feel totally relaxed and present in the moment whenever I am by the sea. We decided to go to our favourite place, as there is an airfield only ten minutes’ walk from a lovely and secluded place called Whitecliff Bay near Bembridge. It was my first flight of the season after the long winter break, as I had to put my gliding licence on hold for a while and I only fly with my partner, who is a fully licensed pilot, so that I don’t lose the habit of being in the air and make decisions as a pilot. The weather looked promising and possibly we might be able to do some thermaling during our flight down to the Isle of Wight from Dunstable, where the motor glider is based.
My intention for the flight was to reacquaint myself with flying, navigating, recognising landmarks on the ground, taking off, landing and thermaling of course! I had felt particularly tired lately, hence the decision to take a mini-break and my motto was ‘take it easy girl!’. I know the route very well, actually I know it by heart, and I could fly it without the map by now, as we have flown it at least a dozen times. The day was thermic, but not exceptionally good, so we used some thermals on our way there to save fuel, but we didn’t spend too much time using them. I felt relaxed and did some of the flying and saw that I could still do it, even after a break of more than five months! I love the view of the Solent and see the Island in the distance, especially when the visibility is good and there are plenty of sailing boats on the sea. I wanted to land the motor glider to get back into the groove, but I thought to let my partner land and just refresh my mind without too much effort. I focused on the views and the bay near the airfield and was anticipating our walk down to the sea after parking the motor glider and sitting in the sun … From that grounded and relaxed place I allowed myself to be a passenger and of course an acute observer, as I am a pilot in the making, therefore I can’t pretend I don’t know anything about flying.
The unexpected happened …
My partner landed and, after communicating with the airfield controller that he was about to vacate the runway, he started turning to reverse and then taxi to the parking area off the end of the runway. I had just stopped my stop watch to see how long our flight had been and I was observing the manoeuvre. I soon realised that the turn was a little too wide and that the left wheel was about to leave the edge of the runway and hit a runway light. I said to myself that he would have seen it too, moreover he had landed on that runway many times, therefore there was no point to say anything. At the end of the day what are my few hundreds flying hours compared to his thousands? I decided to keep quiet and let him do whatever he would think appropriate, rather than shout “Mind the light, we are going to hit it!!” Few seconds later I heard the crash of the glass shattered by us running over it followed by the left wheel becoming stuck in the soft ground at the edge of the runway! The next thing was his call on the radio asking for assistance.
My concern for the possibility of heading against the light now became a deep disappointment with myself for not trusting my flying experience and listening to my intuition. I could have avoided this happening! I felt guilty for not taking responsibility to be part of the crew and for dismissing my flying experience that I gathered so far with so much effort, dedication and passion. I realised as well that maybe this time it was only a case of hitting a runway light, but it could have been much worse. We immediately got off the plane to see what the damage was and fortunately we realised that the tyre and the landing gear hadn’t been affected, except for few paint scratches and we just needed to push the plane back on the runway and taxi it to the parking area. While I was collecting the broken pieces of the light, paying much attention to not leave any on the ground hidden by the grass, I asked myself how many times I didn’t trust myself enough to give voice to my knowledge and intuition when they came rushing in to save me …
Why do I keep avoiding recognising that my experience matters? Why don’t I trust my judgement enough to keep myself safe? Why didn’t I shout what I wanted and save ourselves from damaging the plane or anything else? When intuition speaks loud it is time to listen rather than to rationalise it and find a good reason not to follow it! Why are my few hundreds hours of flying not good enough to give me knowledge to suss things right? I have a good eye for so many things, especially flying, why didn’t I trust my intuition? My embarrassment with myself after a while became anger, because it got soon fueled by all the other times in my past when I should have given voice to my intuition and its warnings and I didn’t for very good rationalised reasons! These are the wrong reasons for keeping safe in any circumstance!
Menstrual awareness and inner authority
My menstrual awareness has taught me for so long that I am the expert of my body and that I should always listen to myself first, even if I don’t have a degree in gynaecology. The same is applicable to my flying awareness, even if I haven’t finished my gliding licence yet. I remember very well since the beginning of my flying training that after few months of flying I was starting noticing things in a very different way than in the beginning. When I was flying with instructors I started noticing that they did not always respect the procedures that they were teaching me and the fact that they had more experience than me did not necessarily mean that I couldn’t see things at times better than them! Of course the temptation to dismiss our own opinion is strong, because we immediately think that others should know better than us, but this is not necessarily true all the time and respecting our own discernment is a healthy habit to have and to develop for our own self-preservation, especially in flying! Being an observer of my own female cyclicity and not judging the way I feel is a very good discipline to have because it trains my own inner power and discernment that can be very useful and life saving in so many instances. Rating our own intuition high boils down to having a good self-esteem which is strictly linked to our self-love and appreciation. This incident at Bembridge taught me that, even if I know all this and I practice self and menstrual awareness every day, sometimes it is not enough, as I failed doing what was required and necessary in this instance. I preferred to shut up and not question my partner’s experience rather than follow my discernment! How many times in your life do you prefer to listen to your inner critic rather than to your intuition? Inner power and authority don’t fall in our lap one day, they are the result of self-observation, patience, discernment, wisdom and trust that we all have everything we need inside of us and we just have to listen. Next time I will shout whatever is required, better to annoy somebody’s ears rather than feeling guilty for not having dared enough!
If you want to develop your inner voice and self-awareness, I would advice you to become menstrual aware, as this is your short cut to your inner authority and self-esteem. Check Flying Inspiration for more info!