My story seems to be like a lot of folks: I got my private, flew some friends and the ex-wife around SoCal, and, with 88 hours in my book, stopped flying in 1999. It seems that time, money, and life all got in the way. I have a single entry in 2004 for 2.1 hours of dual out of CRQ. I remember that I did not feel comfortable with the Skyhawk after 5 years of being away on that flight, so I found every reason not to go back up. Fast forward 13 years to November 2017. An airport (C29) close to where I work decided to host an AOPA Rusty Pilots seminar that happens to free for members, so I went. It was a room full of 30 people that all had stories like mine. The three hours past in an instant, but it wasn't that bad. "Line Up and Wait" (I still giggle) has replaced "Position and Hold" and my taxi clearance doesn't allow me to go through any intersecting runways without permission. OK, I can handle this. Next step, Medical. Basic Med or Third Class? The answer was easy when my Primary Care Physician didn't feel comfortable signing off on the Basic Med even after I included the AOPA Guidance for Doctors. So, I got a fresh Third Class in January just in case I wanted to get in the air again in the next 24 months. Well, unbeknownst to me, my wife and kids got me a gift certificate at the local flight school for Father's Day and I was scheduled for July 1st, 2018. I got emotional when they gave it to me. During the time between Father’s Day and my scheduled flight, I was as excited as a kid waiting for Christmas. I read as much as I could and found Jason at MzeroA.com videos on YouTube. I printed out airport diagrams, ordered new sectionals, and did two weight and balances with an instructor at 150lbs and 245lbs. I looked up what is reviewed on the BFR and reviewed the POH. I was ready, but how much time would it take to knock off the rust? Based on my 2004 flight in SoCal, my educated guess would be about 10 hours or so. That was until I started reading posts online. Super pilots with 5-, 10-, 20-year hiatus’ who were signed off after 2 hours or less seemed to be the norm. Like riding a bike, no problem, all comes back, etc. That is NOT how I remembered my 2004 flight out of Palomar. I did not feel comfortable at all. Maybe things have changed, I thought to myself... July 1st came and the wx did not cooperate. I did go to RYV and meet my instructor. He is a Jason as well and, needless to say, I am probably older than his father. Seems like a nice guy and made me feel comfortable. He gave me a tour of the airport and we went to check out 02E, a ’79 Skyhawk. We rescheduled for July Fourth at 1000. I got this, I thought to myself. A couple of flights, a flight review, and I would be taking my wife and kids into the sky for their first-time. As luck would have it, the Wisconsin weather dished out 93 degrees and high humidity. Pre-flight was uneventful although I had to exert a lot more energy checking the fuel. It seems that 20 years and an additional 40lbs on my frame makes climbing a plane a lot different than I remember. In fairness, my instructor did ask me if I wanted to bring the short step ladder over before I even left the FBO – to which I smirked and said, “No thank you. I got it.” Instructor 1, me zero… My taxing reminded me of a drunken sailor, so much so that at one point I quipped, “I guessed I failed my taxi test.” Jason reassured me that there is no test and he is just looking to make sure that I am safe with the airplane. Take-off was a non-event with a slight left crosswind and I enjoyed the climbout to 2,500’… Jason threw a compliment my way about the quality of my take-off. Thanks! Jason asked me about slow flight (MCA – minimum controllable airspeed back in the day) and I went into action. I remember really enjoying practicing slow flight and I was a master at it and stall recovery. I slowed us down and dropped the flaps. I was getting fast on my airspeed and not holding my altitude. Wait a minute!!! I used to rock this. Pitch for airspeed – Power for altitude!!! WTF! Jason must have sensed my state because he had me recover. Then he asked me how I was doing. That question kind of gave me a moment of pause and I told him the truth: “Well, to be honest, I kinda got a little nervous right then and I don’t know why.” He reassured me and said that we were going to not be doing any stalls today. Stalls? I am a stall recovery master! I am not afraid of stall recovery. I used to do it in my sleep… I ate stalls for breakfast!!! Not today, cowboy… We did some steep turns and rolling out on heading. A few practice each way and I was within PTS. That was good. Jason had me pilotage, play with radials, and give me a tour of the area. He was handling the radios as we neared and overflew uncontrolled fields. Cruise flying point to point was fun. The aircraft was trimmed and I got to enjoy the view. This was my first time flying in Wisconsin instead of the busy Class B of San Diego… As we came back to RYV from the northeast, I am embarrassed to admit that I mistook a row of white buildings to be the field until Jason mentioned that we needed to head a little more east to circle and line-up for 45 entry to the left downwind for 23. The airport was actually a lot closer. Argh! I was making the calls and Jason was reminding me of the to-dos while on downwind. Turning to base I went steeper than 30 degrees – I know better than that. Turn to final saw speed too fast, airplane too high. Flaps to 30 and fly the airplane. Now, landings are the difference between boys and men. I used to be good at landings. I mean really good… My final profile was more of a stair step pattern than a slope. I flared too high and was ballooning. I was about 5 feet left of center when I added a little power with the thought of cushioning her to the earth. It was about that time that Jason said, “Go around.” I immediately pushed the throttle to the panel and reached over to take out 10 degrees of flaps. Jason was not impressed as he immediately put the flaps back to 30. “Positive rate of climb FIRST.” Jason also had to remind me to turn off the carb heat for our climb up to TPA. F*@k! “A go-around is not an emergency. It is urgent, but you don’t have to slam the throttle forward. You may end up flooding the engine – did you hear the sputter? Advance it smoothly with your palm and use your thumb to turn off the carb heat”, Jason explained in a very sympathetic way. What Jason said was not new to me. I know this. What the hell is wrong with me? “I will help you on the controls with the next one”, Jason said. Again, turns too steep, airplane too high, and speed was off. Jason’s “help” was probably 66% of that landing. We taxied back and Jason was very calm. I remember thinking, “Mister, you are in this plane with me and saw how bad I sucked. You are pretty calm right now…” To add insult to injury and to top everything off, the line guy had me pull up between the building and a 152. Even under his “guidance”, I cut the turn close to the wing tips – close enough to get Jason’s attention and help me with the differential brake. I felt about two feet high. As I got my crap together, secured the airplane, and met Jason inside, I realized that I was drenched in sweat and I didn’t feel good. I held it together but I was nauseous, almost a whole-body kind of motion sick. I got a drink while Jason was finishing my logbook: 1.4 hours of Dual and PIC. I guess it is a benefit of being certified, we both log PIC, but my friend Jason was truly Pilot In Command of that debacle that I just flew. He had another student waiting and we were 10 minutes into that guy’s time. Jason was bright-eyed and cheery, even though I had him on death’s door, all the way until the end of our session. We exchanged pleasantries and I was on my way home. When I got to the car, Shaina was waiting for me. I told her that I was hot and felt motion sick. She asked me how it went and, although I didn’t share this with her, I was mentally questioning if I should continue. I was mentally exhausted and physically sick. That is NOT what flying is supposed to be! I told her about my landing and she asked me if I expected something different after almost 20 years of not flying. To be honest, after reading all the postings of the Aces who come back in an hour and seem to criticize us who can’t, I was expecting more of myself. My tail has been between my legs since then. As I dissect the flight, I can say with certainty that I was behind the aircraft for most of the day. I was reactive instead of proactive - reacting to the aircraft instead of controlling it. Slow flight at altitude and in the pattern, I was not scanning my instruments, and I can’t say for certain that I even kept my aiming point for my touchdowns! Although I could quit, I am not going to. I want to become a safe and proficient pilot – like I was. To that end, I have scheduled three more sessions with Jason. I think the 10 hours for me is realistic. It may be more, it may be less. I know that both Jason and I will agree when I am ready. Most importantly, my family and friends will be safe! I write this today as a tool for encouragement to tell folks that doubt, confusion, and, yes, frustration are all normal feelings during this process. Just like when you were a student! If you feel compelled to negatively critique what I did or didn’t do, save your time. There are other Rusty Pilots who are good pilots that should be encouraged to take as much time as they need to get back to the joy that flying brings. I salute those of you can do it in less time, but I just proved to myself it is not me and I would venture to say that my experience is going to be close to “normal” as you get. Happy and Safe Flying!!!