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Rob & Dawn Shrewsbury, Orlando swing dance instructors

Flying High

Posted on May 6th, 2008 by

So, Rob and I went flying recently on a Friday night with a fellow dancer/friend who has a pilot’s license. As the afternoon passed by, I got more and more nervous and excited about what was coming up that evening. You see, I don’t necessarily have a fear of flying so much as a healthy respect for heights and aviation. Before a year ago, I had never been in anything smaller than a 25 person prop commuter plane and that wasn’t bad at all. Last year Rob and I got to ride in a 1925 biplane that seated 4 passengers and that was excitedly “gripping” (referring to my white knuckles), but quite nice once I relaxed and remembered to breathe.

So I wasn’t sure what riding in a 4 person Cessna plane would be like. As we watched our friend do the pre-flight check that the FAA requires of licensed pilots, I kept thinking that I just wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into and should I go through with it. It’s not like I can just bail once we get up there and I don’t like it ya know. But I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t let my fears stop me from enjoying life in different ways. And I’ve always had dreams of flying like a bird and how cool it would be. But even with my interest and bravado, I almost bailed like twice. But I persevered and got in, strapped in, and prepared myself for the experience.

It’s not like I’m afraid that we’ll fall out of the sky mind you, it’s more the feeling of fragility that comes with being in a small craft that is easily pushed around by winds. So it’s like driving in a truly 3D environment where you have the added element of physics affecting your stability from all angles, instead of just gravity as in a car. So we go and take off into the wind which caused us to have lift quite easily and quickly… and away we went. The wind did bump us around during the hour that we were in the sky flying all over Orlando and even Disney. But it’s not like we were hitting air pockets and falling 50ft or anything. Our friend Joshua did a GREAT job of keeping things smooth and easy going for me. He did do a few things that literally left my stomach in my throat. Like one maneuver called a parabola (the bell curve from statistics class… anyone… anyone?) where he points the nose up and then brings it down like going over a hill. Yikes that really got my stomach up in my throat (notice the look on my face).

Rob and Dawn - she's scared

After we got to “buzz” the Disney attractions at 3,000 feet, we proceeded back to the executive airport where the landing was really neat and we even saw a HUGE bald eagle at the edge of a pond on the way back to the tarmac. I survived and even had fun. And Rob even had the foresight to snap a few pictures of all of us (and me) while flying…so enjoy those. 🙂

Rob, Dawn, and Joshua

I made it!


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“I wanted to compliment you guys on your dedication and skills as instructors. ... on Sunday I did have a break while waiting for Dawn and watched how each of you were instructing and I was impressed. Your love of the dance and dedication is obvious. ... For my own thanks, at every event I've gone to and danced Shag, Balboa, Lindy Hop (and the occassional Charleston) with others from around the world and I've always been thankful for what you guys taught. Most convincing (and testimony to your teaching) were the first times I travelled out of Florida and I danced with skilled follows from far away, and I was like - this stuff really does work all around the world!”

- Ben Saro

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