This is a Story About Consent

Don’t worry; I’m not going to tell you about my sex life!

***

Little known fact about Bree: Before I got my teaching credential, I worked as a Museum Educator for the Museum of Flight in Seattle. This was very fun. I first got involved with the Museum of Flight through their summer camp, which I wound up working at for another summer about a year after I graduated from college.

This story is set there and then.

***

One of the activities the oldest campers did was to fly a Cessna. Because of this, the camp had a relationship with the flight school across the runway and one of the things the flight school would do was to offer camp staff an opportunity to fly a Cessna as well. This is how I happen to have piloted an aircraft without ever going to flight school.

Flying an aircraft is actually ridiculously easy–at least when you have a trained, licensed pilot in the co-pilot seat. You point the plane down the runway, make it go fast, pull up on the steering wheel and you take off. Seriously, if you’ve never flown before it’s kind of amazing how little effort it takes. Once you’re up in the air it’s pretty much like driving a car, with less traffic and a better view. Except the pedals are different–instead of controlling speed, they help you turn.

However, there is one point when the work gets a bit more, shall we say, “challenging.” At some point you have to get the plane back down on the ground. You have to land. This is where things get trickier. The margin of error involved goes up significantly.

On this particular day, this is the second time I’ve flown a plane. I take off. I’m flying around. The pilot-instructor guy compliments me on my flying and I make some joke about playing Flight-Sim.

Then it’s time for us to land.

The pilot asks me if I would like to land the plane.

I say no.

He does not take no for an answer.

I say “I don’t want to do this.”

He gives me directions for landing the plane.

I follow directions–because I don’t know what else to do–and lower the plane, keeping the two runway lights in view.

Panicpanicpanic.

I say “I really don’t want to do this.”

The ground is getting closer and closer.

PANICPANICPANIC.

He says “Oh, you’re doing fine.”

Not knowing what else to do I lift my hands off of the steering wheel and hold them up in the air.

“I DON’T WANT TO LAND THE PLANE!”

He grabs his steering wheel tightly and lands the plane. Tight-lipped. He does not speak to me until we are getting out of the airplane. I don’t speak to him other than to say goodbye.

***

This happened almost a decade ago and I am still pissed at this guy. I don’t know his name. I have no clue what happened to him or where his life took him. But if I ever were to see him again, I would give him a piece of my mind.

Asshole.

 

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2 thoughts on “This is a Story About Consent

  1. Didn’t they have an established procedure for this?!

    You are right that this is about consent. But a problem in this situation can kill. There need to be clear procedures for when the unlicensed person will land, and when the licensed person will take over. Either he was breaking the rules, or the people who ran this hadn’t made the right rules, which is also a big problem.

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