September 15, 2011

Learn to Fly!

Joanne & Eithne 
I mentioned that my adventure group has been making the most of great deals from LivingSocial and Groupon. A few weeks ago, three of us spent $40 on a 1-hour flying experience that allowed us to pilot a little Cessna around our part of Maryland.  My friend, Eithne, captured the experience.

Eithne, Casey and the Cessna
“Getting away from it all” usually means taking a trip or vacation, but on August 7th Michaelle, Joanne and I literally and figuratively got away--we took off, left the ground and went flying. I have flown around the world, from Ireland to Australia, to the US and back to Ireland but in the past I have relied on folks who knew what they were doing, they flew the plane. This time, we took off and for 30 minutes each we held the controls! We were lucky, the weather cooperated and we had a terrific instructor, Casey, who although he looked 12 years old, swore he was 24 and had over 800 flying hours behind him! In for a penny in for a pound!

After about 30 minutes of “ground” instruction we were off. I went first - it was truly amazing, we were 2,000 feet above ground, close enough to see houses, cars driving by, swimming pools, and even people – for miles! As Joanne said “I can see why people get hooked.” It was also a little surreal to know that this plane was truly in our hands, we were flying! In the DC metropolitan area flight preparations are unique, because we are sandwiched between the White House and Camp David. We learned that filing an accurate flight plan is crucial, adhering to it even more crucial. Casey kept us on the straight and narrow and also ensured we stayed far away from other planes! Smaller airports do not have a control tower so navigating in the sky is dependent on the pilot being in constant communication with fellow pilots. Casey spoke to several during our 90 minute flight primarily to negotiate landing order. Suddenly, planes we could not see would appear from the clouds and land ahead of us, just as they had planned during their radio communication, it was remarkable!
In the pilot's seat

I flew from Montgomery Airpark landed in Frederick, Michaelle flew from Frederick to Carroll County and Joanne flew the home leg. Thankfully, Casey landed for all three of us and we were once again on terra firma. The next day in work, as usual, we talked about what we did over the weekend there were a few raised eyebrows when for the first time in my life but hopefully not the last I said, “I flew a plane, how about you?”

One note of congratulations to our flight instructor, Casey. He's the NFL's new Sunday-night aerial man. Next time you see an eagle's view of the stadium, you'll know who's piloting that plane!

Watch Eithne take to the skies in this video:

September 12, 2011

Anne's 1000 Mile Challenge: Final Entry

Taking a well-earned break

Outdoor Contributor, Anne, has  spent a chunk of the summer on a new project and a new training journal.  This is her final post about her 1,000-mile challenge.

My original goal was to move 1000 miles and lose 10 pounds by Labor Day. So, how did I do? Well, as of Labor Day, I had moved 533 miles, and I lost two pounds. By some measures, you would say that I hadn’t done very well at attaining my goal, and on some days I would agree. However, I’m trying to look at the more positive side of things. When I set the goal, I didn’t even know if 1000 miles was possible, and I didn’t gain any weight.

If I had confined my activity to biking, I might have made my goal. Instead I biked, hiked, canoed/kayaked, and even swam twice. I’m still tracking my distance to see how long it takes me to hit 1000 miles. Now, I’m at 606 miles. I’ve biked 419 miles, I’ve walked/hiked/backpacked 126 miles, and I’ve canoed/kayaked/swam 61 miles. I’ve covered some ground.

Here are a few of the things I’ve done this summer to help me get towards my goal.

  • I hiked 10+ miles in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness.  It was a lovely day with a walk past more than four alpine lakes, and over a pass into a beautiful, glaciated valley.
  • I went on a couple of great kayaking trips on Flathead Lake.  One was to some pictographs only accessible by water, and the other was to some islands we had never been to before.
  • I counted my floats down the Clark Fork River in inner tubes—a summer tradition in Missoula. On a hot day, people float through town on the river on inner tubes, drinking adult beverages. It’s a very relaxing summer time activity.
  • I went on a backpacking trip to Trask Lakes in the Flint Creek Range.  I hadn’t taken a backpacking trip in more than five years, but managed to make it six miles into this alpine basin where hardly anyone goes.
 Looking ahead, I’m doing the Tour de Cure next weekend, but I don’t have any other major expedition plans. I don’t think I’ll get to 1000 miles until the end of October, but I’ll keep trying. As to the weight thing, I think I’ll have to address that in another post later.