Prepare for Landing by Scarlett Woods
Chapter One: Hannah
“Hannah,” the instructor calls my name. “You’re up first.”
My class cheers as I jump out of my seat and walk quickly down the tarmac. It’s an exciting day at Above & Beyond flight school.
I’ve spent years working as a flight attendant, slowly paying my way through school. Taking classes when I could afford them while making ends meet.
Some days it feels intimidating for a late thirties gal like myself to be in school with a bunch of twenty-somethings. But I work hard and I’ve never been more certain that becoming a pilot is my destiny.
As I approach the plane, a man stands at the bottom of the staircase.
He says, “You may sit in the pilot’s seat but do not mess with any of the buttons.”
“Absolutely, sir,” I say as my heart races and I climb the stairs.
Today, my flight class enters the last phase of the pilot’s program as we prepare to start our instructional flying hours. Not only do we get to explore the cockpit today, but the instructor will be assigning each of us a mentor pilot.
Through my experiences as a flight attendant, I’ve caught glimpses of the cockpit here and there. But no pilot has ever allowed me to go in and explore the controls.
I hold my head high as I enter the plane and stand in front of the closed cockpit door. I wish my mother could see me now, following in her footsteps. She’d be so proud.
“Here goes nothing,” I say quietly as I pull on the heavy door.
I eagerly step inside and scan the tight space. My smile fades and my eyebrows furrow.
“What a dump,” I mutter to myself and my body slouches.
Old fast-food wrappers lay over the button-filled console, and crumpled papers cover the floor. Open storage compartments with their contents spewing out. Permanent water spots over the windows blur the beautiful view of outside.
But worst of all, a questionable white stain sits on the two pilot’s seats.
I’m completely let down.
The sound of someone climbing the stairs startles me. I peek out to see who’s coming and it’s my flight instructor. I can’t let him see my disappointment so I throw on a fake smile as he walks through the door.
“Well, Hannah,” he says entering the plane. “Have you had a chance to see what it feels like to sit in the pilot’s ch—,” he stops talking as his eyes meet the room.
He looks left, right, and up then down.
“Damn it,” he shouts.
There’s an uncomfortable tension in the air. I shift my eyes away from the instructor and look toward the ground. He’s upset. If I were to take a guess, I don’t think he expected to see this mess either.
“Instructor?” I say hesitantly.
He shakes his head, “My apologies Hannah. The pilot of this aircraft was supposed to have this place spotless for our day of hands-on training.”
I quickly search for consoling words.
“Oh it’s fine,” I say with an upbeat tone. “My mom was a pilot, I know what cockpits are supposed to look like.”
While my statement is technically true, my mother passed when I was very young and the memories I have of it, are unclear.
But now is not the time for technicalities.
My instructor nods his head. “You’re alight kid,” he says. “I suppose we will finish this lesson on another day.” He motions toward the door, “I need to make a phone call so head back and tell the class what’s happened. When I come in, I’ll assign everyone their mentors.”
“Sounds great,” I say as I push through the main airplane doors and head back down the stairs to class.
Our class has been waiting for this day for so long and everyone is sure to be disappointed. But in a way, I feel bad for my instructor. He plans this epic hands-on lesson but someone ruins it.
I keep my fingers crossed and hope the instructor pairs us with good mentors. I don’t want to be stuck with a messy pilot like this.
As I walk into the classroom, I prepare to deliver the bad news but a man stands at the front speaking to everyone. I won’t be rude, so I quietly walk to my seat in the back of the classroom and settle in.
This man looks familiar but I can’t quite place him.
“Psst,” the girl next to me whispers. “How was it?”
I lean toward her and whisper back. “Terrible, a total dump. I couldn’t wait to get out of there,” I say. “The pilot was supposed to clean it but didn’t. Now the instructor is going to reschedule.”
“No way,” she quietly gasps. “That sucks.”
I nod my head in agreement. Pointing at the man speaking in front I ask her, “Who’s that?”
She rolls her eyes, “He’s one of the pilots for Delbourne Airlines and he seems like a total douchebag. Just listen to him.”
I focus my eyes on this man and listen to the rest of his speech.
“So bottom line,” the man at the front says. “Any of you will be lucky to have me as your mentor pilot. The decision is up to your instructor but, I’ve put in my request,” he says as he winks at a pretty girl in the front row.
I woke up excited for hands-on learning and getting my mentor, but now my stomach feels uneasy. The instructor walks in and stares at the man.
“Trevor,” he says to the man. “Thanks to your disgusting trash-filled cockpit, our whole class is rescheduling this day of training.”
The sound of moans and groans come from the class but I focus on the man’s name. Trevor? Why does this name sound so familiar?
I stare at him and suddenly it hits me, I’ve flown with Trevor before. I was a flight attendant on one of his flights.
Flashes of my coworkers, Tracy, Olga, and Kate, pop up in my mind. Each of them mentioned how much they dislike flying with Trevor.
Shivers run down my spine at the possibility of having him as my mentor. Being alone with him in the air for so many hours sounds like a nightmare.
“Due to the inconvenience,” the instructor says glaring at Trevor. “We will skip today’s hands-on training and move forward with the distribution of your mentor assignments.”
He reaches into his desk drawer and pulls out a stack of folded papers.
Then he continues, “These papers will tell you who your mentor is and a little bit about them. There’s a small photo next to the pilot’s name so you can easily identify them when you meet them tomorrow.”
This all seems to be moving so quickly now, I can’t believe we get to meet this person tomorrow.
The instructor separates the stack into two piles and grabs one paper in each hand. “When I call your name, come up and get your paper,” he says.
My heart pounds as he calls out the first two names. I watch the stacks of papers dwindle as I sit on the edge of my seat awaiting my name.
Finally, the instructor looks up and calls out, “Hannah.”
I take a deep breath and walk slowly to the front. My hand trembles a bit, as he gives me the paper. I walk back to my seat and slowly unfold it.
My heart stops as I read, “Congratulations, Trevor is your mentor.”
My eyes well up and disappointment overwhelms me. What are the chances of being paired with Trevor? That man is awful, and momentarily I feel like I can’t do this. My stomach clenches with dread.
Suddenly, a soft voice from the front calls out to me.
“Hannah, I think you grabbed mine by mistake.”
I glance up to see the pretty girl from the front row walking back to my desk. She smiles as she holds out her paper.
This is a freaking miracle.
I quickly turn my paper over and read the name, “Hailey.” A weight lifts off my back and I exhale with relief.
“Thanks,” I say, as we switch papers.
I feel bad for her being paired with Trevor. But I watch her exchange a wink with Trevor and blow him a kiss from across the room.
I can see they’re a perfect match.
I unfold my paper. I’ve never been happier than to be paired with a pilot named Clark.
Though there isn’t a picture, it says that he’s been a pilot for years and has a secret weakness for cookies. As a baking enthusiast in my spare time, any professional that mentions a love of cookies is perfect in my book. I like him already.
The class shifts their attention to a man standing in the doorway.
“Am I too late?” he says in a mesmerizing deep voice.
The instructor smiles and stands up. “Not at all, please come in,” he says and the man walks to the front of the classroom.
As he takes off his aviator sunglasses, he reveals his sexy hazel eyes. He’s tall and his muscular build bulges out of his pilot’s uniform. A neatly trimmed beard accentuates his perfection.
This man has my full attention.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the instructor says. “You’re in for a treat. This man was recently voted pilot of the year for Delbourne Airlines.”
Cheers and claps come from the class. Trevor stands off to the side as he crosses his arms and rolls his eyes.
The instructor continues, “It’s my honor to introduce to you, Captain Clark.”
Did he just say, Clark?
My heart races as I read my paper again connecting the dots. Yep, it’s true, I get to spend hours alone in a tight space with this bag of deliciousness as my mentor.
Clark speaks, “So which one of you do I have the pleasure of mentoring?”
The class shuffles and heads turn left and right searching for the lucky mentee. Slowly I raise my hand and manage to squeak out a word.
He has a magical gleam in his eye that shoots to the back row and gives me goosebumps.
“Well, alright then,” he says smiling. “Let’s get to it, our first lesson is now.”
Now? My heart flutters as I stand up. The girl next to me gives me a thumbs up.
“Girl, you’re so lucky,” she says.
I look down at her and chuckle.
“I wonder what it’s like in his cockpit,” she jokes.
I shake my head and secretly wonder the same thing.