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:


Powell River Books said...

Great for you! I learned to fly in the 80s and dabble in it when I have time. When times were a little bit less hectic my husband and I flew to Cancum, the Hudson Bay, the Arctic Ocean and all around Canada and the States (of course not all in the same trip!). Flying can sure get in your blood. - Margy

Anonymous said...

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