First flight

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Saturday May 24th, 2008 will be a day that I will remember for a long time. It is the day I first went up in a small plane, a Piper Cherokee to be exact. It is the day I began my flight training.

A few months ago I signed up for ground school at Toronto Airways. I had been thinking about it for a while, since my house mate in Markham was in the Seneca College Aviation program and we spoke about flying and maneuvers and weather quite often. I have been playing Microsoft Flight Simulator since I first became aware of its existence so you could say I had an interest in flying but I never really looked into it.

I completed ground school on April 10 of this year and, since I moved to Hamilton at the end of April, I began looking for flight schools in the Hamilton area. My choices were Spectrum Airways, in Burlington (CZBA) and Peninsulair in Hamilton (CYHM). I decided to go with Peninsulair since it was closer, I would be flying out of an international airport so I’d get experience with the big boys and also I like the look of the Cherokee.

Saturday was my introductory flight, a 30 minute flight preceded by a discussion of licensing goals and requirements. Since I have already completed ground school, written and passed my PSTAR, radio license and held a valid Category 3 medical, the discussion was cut short and my instructor, Bob, and myself headed out to the plane.

Once at C-GQFP, Bob showed me how the walk around is done before each flight, checking the control surfaces, oil, fuel, propeller, landing gear etc. He asked me a couple of questions about the plane (Why are the control surfaces corrugated? [More strength while lighter in weight] What purpose does the counter-balancing weight on the ailerons serve? [Prevents them from fluttering as air moves over them]) then told me to take the left (pilot’s) seat and performed the engine start up. After taxiing out of the parking spot to the edge of the apron, Bob called Hamilton Ground for clearance to taxi then:

Ok we’re cleared to taxi. See Bravo over there, take us there.

He let me taxi until we got to the hold short line for the active runway where he requested clearance for takeoff. Once we received it he said:

Alright let’s taxi into position. I’m gonna close the door here. Alright throttle it up and get this plane in the air.

He let me do the take off! Once off the ground, the feeling was unreal. So much freedom to move in three dimensions. It was amazing. I turned right to follow the 403E until I got to Princess Point then turned right again. Went over the Skyway bridge and followed the Lake Ontario shore line until I was over Wild Waterworks. It was a beautiful day and there were many boats on the lake. The colour of the water was a spectacular blue with boats carving white streaks as they passed through. I turned right once again and passed over Devil’s Punchbowl and the escarpment on the way back to the airport. Bob let me do the approach (which was awful in terms of approaches) and when the plane wouldn’t go down any more, he took control and landed us.

My first flight was over, the next one is on Saturday. I can’t wait!