Last year while living on the lake in Keswick, I spent a lot of time bird watching. From marveling at the gulls and crows [and the occasional bald eagle] soaring high above in the wind, to the flocks of ducks, trumpeter swans and Canada geese winging in rhythm just above the surface of the lake, to the countless variety of birds darting here and there, flitting amongst the trees and singing joyfully from the upper most branches, I was fascinated and inspired.
One day, while caught up in my reverie, I imagined what it would be like to be winged and I thought, if there was one ability I could have that humans don’t possess, it would be the ability to fly! Two weeks ago my dream came true … sort of!
I had been planning a trip to Bala, the town where I grew up. Because I am not able to do long drives, my dear friend, Ross, offered to drive up and pick me up. Another close friend, Jake, offered to bring me home. It’s a four and a half hour trek from Bala to our place on Manitoulin Island, so this was no small gesture!
Then a few weeks ago, Ross called to inform me that plans had changed. Rather than drive up, he had made arrangements with an acquaintance to fly up! He wanted to know if I was okay with it. Indeed I was! I was thrilled!
On Friday, November 4, Ross and his brother Steve flew up with their pilot, Ron, touching down at our local airport at 1:00 PM. After the customary handshakes and hugs, including Ron, who I had actually met before, we loaded up my gear and prepared for takeoff.
I mentioned to Ron that I had never been in a small plane before. He confidently assured me that he had never killed anybody before, then asked me if I wanted to fly the plane. Steve had flown part way up, so it was no big deal to him. Me on the other hand, I could barely contain my excitement!
We taxied down the runway then headed up into the skies. After reaching our cruising altitude of 7500 feet Ron gave me about 30 seconds worth of instructions, then said, “The plane is all yours!”
What a thrill! For the next 30 minutes, I was at the controls! I did my best to keep my eyes on the horizon, as instructed, but I kept wanting to look at the instrument panel, which was quite fascinating! We flew above the clouds for most of the trip [it was like flying over top of an ice field], after which came the highlight of the adventure when Ron directed me to take the plane down to 3500 feet through a hole in the clouds. Wow! It was so awesome!
Then, with our destination in sight, he said we were going to take it down to 1500 feet, which to me, seemed terrifyingly close to the ground, particularly the way we were being buffeted around! It wasn’t the type of buffeting to make you want to throw up, but it was enough to make it interesting!
Even though I knew Ron was in full control of the plane at all times, the tension in my forearms and hands was quite intense [my hands shook the entire time]. But I was grinning from ear-to-ear and there was no way I was giving up the controls until he said so! No bloody way!
Finally, with Bala fast approaching, Ron took the controls and did a fly over the town, which was really cool, before landing at his private airstrip.
It truly was an awesome trip and thanks to my friends Ross and Steve, I got to realize my dream, or perhaps as close as I will ever get to it!
Have an awesomely adventurous day!
PS That’s me on the right in the picture!