i see what she means now
Story time! Some ten or so years ago, I was possessed of a sudden desire to learn to fly. I had walked from my house to the Boulder Municipal Airport, where I saw a sign that said LEARN TO FLY HERE and watched a little plane do a touch-and-go, and I thought, "That's right--I could!"
At the time, I had a neighbor the next stairwell over who was a flight attendant. Upon hearing my thought, she immediately tried to dissuade me. "No, no, you don't want to do that. Those little planes are awful. They shake and they rattle and you can feel every tiniest bit of turbulence like you're going to fall out of the sky any minute, and they're noisy. You know those lawnmowers that you ride on? They're like lawnmowers with wings. And that's what you'd log your first kajillion hours in. You don't want to do that, trust me."
I found her reaction odd. I'd been expecting encouragement. I mean, she was up in planes all the time. Why would she want to discourage another person--another woman, even--from being a pilot? By contrast, my mother, whom I'd expected to get nervous and scared at the thought of her daughter risking her life fifteen hundred feet in the air every week, got really excited about it when I told her. "You can do anything you put your mind to," she told me. "If you want to learn to fly, do it!"
The short story is, I began taking lessons and eventually earned my private pilot's license. Mom was thrilled; she bragged to friends that her daughter was a renaissance woman: "She writes stories, programs web pages, spins her own yarn, and flies planes." I don't remember what my neighbor had to say about it. She eventually moved away, but not before contriving to have a bridge-burning fight with just about everyone in the condominium building whom she knew, including me. (In my case it was a fight about my expecting her to bring used wine glasses back to the kitchen or at least stand them upright on a table when she was done with them rather than leaving them on the couch for me to discover between the cushions the next day. Or something like that.)
I haven't been in the cockpit for years--since before I began skating roller derby, in fact--but that's not the point. The point is, today I learned how to operate a ride-on lawnmower. And whatever else my neighbor was wrong about, she was right about this much: that machine really is rather reminiscent of a Cessna 172. The engine noise is similar, if not to the same scale. Earplugs help. The lawnmower also has in common with a small plane the throttle that you sometimes have to futz with to get things started. It has a checklist for startup and shutdown, if a shorter one than the airplane does. And if its engine suddenly dies on you, your first course of action is to see if you can restart it. Just like in a plane, except without that fiddly "set attitude for best glide speed" or "identify a an emergency landing location" stuff.
And that's my story. The end.