Lunchtime â€“ I arrive at Airport Road in Warwick, having driven past the usual airport entrance and around the end of the field. There are hangars behind the fence, a big â€œLearn to Fly Hereâ€ sign on the end of the large hangar. A trail of little yellow airplanes painted on the sidewalk leads to the school door in the old control tower building. I go through the door. A counter â€“ Iâ€™m immediately greeted by a young guy whose name badge said Chris. There are aviation prints, flags from around the world from people who learned at the school, a case with headsets and aircraft models, some seats, and magazines.
We do some paperwork. Chris detects my Scottish accent. He will need to perform a background check on me before I am ever able to solo. A legacy from 9/11. I explain Iâ€™m actually an American and produce a US Passport. Clearly this has just saved a ton of extra paperwork. Big smile from Chris. We talk about – what else – flying. My instructor is finishing up with the last student â€“ he will be right with me.
Someone appears through a door telling the person who is clearly a student what they will do next time. Iâ€™m introduced to Greg. He snagsÂ me a guest headset from the schoolâ€™s loaner pile, grabs a flight box for an aircraft, and takes me down to the classrooms on the side of the hangar. Each desk has a computer, books, and some aviation print or similar. We sit down at his and go over what is about to happen. We are cautiously sounding each other out. We turn to the computer and get a volume of information from it (donâ€™t worry, it gets easier with time) weather, standard briefing, radar picture, METARS, TAFâ€™s, TFRâ€™s and NOTAMS all written in code and requiring interpretation. I note the website we are using for later study. We do this before EVERY flight. Especially TFRâ€™s â€“ Temporary Flight Restrictions â€“ they can pop up at a momentâ€™s notice and leave you grounded or in big trouble if you fly.