Airfields are complex places, and Nick takes over for the landing, coordinating with the control tower and nimbly dropping us on the marked “parking spot” in front of the hangar. Working backwards from the preflight checklist, we click off switches and watch dials spin down, waiting until the engine has cooled and the rotors over us have gentled to a halt. All four of us hang up our headsets and hop out. My feet may or may not be touching the ground.
Back at the hangar, Nick starts a booklet for me that will log my airtime forevermore, the first seed of the thirty to fifty hours in the air that the Professional Helicopter Pilots Association estimates is required before a student is ready to take her practical test to be a pilot. The Morans say training in Maui skies makes for a very well-rounded education. Strong and often changeable winds, sudden squalls, variable terrain with mountains and valleys (and ocean!) help develop much more varied reflexes than learning to fly above a flat plain with predictable winds and weather.
Mike snaps a couple of pictures of me grinning my face off as Nick hands me my new blue log booklet. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a gold trophy with my name on it. I’m going to have to do this again.