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Carrie Snyder, Published August 25 2013

Carrie Snyder column: Flying is an experience to savor

This year, 29 adventures await. I made a checklist on May 4, my birthday, of things I’ve never done that will serve to inspire, empower or give a rush of adrenaline to my 29th year of life.

Run in the Fargo Marathon? Check (Well, the 10K anyway). Kiss an alligator on the lips? Been there, done that. Plant something from a seed and watch it grow? I checked off that box while eating a salad with my garden-grown greens. Fly a plane? Just did.

I first heard about discovery flights about a year ago while on assignment for The Forum one weekend at the Fargo Jet Center.

“Someday, I’ll do this,” I told myself.

That day was Aug. 14 – a sunny summer afternoon when this lowly photographer with no flying skills other than riding passenger took to the sky to find that moxie I so crave.

“It’s not something you can tell about in writing or a picture; you have to get them up in the air to experience it,” said Blake Beitelspacher, flight instructor for Fargo Flight School.

He’s right.

Sitting in the left-side seat of the little Cessna 172, my heart pounded in my throat, beads of sweat began pouring from my hands and forehead, and my mind was racing with thoughts of “What the heck am I doing?” But this was it; I wanted to fly.

After conducting a preflight checklist, I turned the key. We were off.

Rolling down the taxiway I’m sure the control tower thought I was drunk, as I quickly found steering an airplane with rudder pedals is not my forte.

We parked at the end of the runway and waited for clearance to take off. Once ready, I pushed the throttle in and slowly pulled back on the yoke.

We climbed into the air. I was flying.

The slightest turn of the yoke made the plane move rapidly in one direction; it wasn’t like driving a car. But after a few over-corrections I had this flying thing down.

Keeping my eyes on the horizon, I worked through a few air pockets and four left turns over the Fargo-Moorhead area.

When it came time to land 45 minutes later, I positioned the plane near the runway and Beitelspacher took over from there, as we both agreed landing in one piece seemed like a good idea.

I emerged from the cockpit grinning ear to ear. What a rush, what an experience, what a story to tell my friends and family.

One more item checked off my list of 29 escapades. One I plan to check off again and again.