Your connection with the sky

What’s your favorite flight?

Most of my posts on the Let's Go Flying blog have been, up to this point, about professional pilot paths.  I want to take a pause from this theme however, to share with you a recently re-discovered reason for wanting to learn how to fly: to find your own personal favorite flight (as a pilot of course).

This reason-for-flying occurred to me while at dinner with some friends this past Saturday.   My friends, who I enjoyed a splendid evening with, are quite unique in the fact that both the husband and the wife are former USAF pilots.  He used to fly the U-2 and she, the A-10.  Talk about some interesting dinner conversation!  During the course of our conversation, we began to share our most memorable, favorite flights with one another.  Each story was unique and at the same time, shared similar threads and highlights.

My favorite flight took place between Yuma, Arizona and Colorado Springs, Colorado in a battered old Cessna 404 (a big lumbering twin-engine aircraft).   This took place while I was working as an aerial survey pilot.  My camera operator and I were assigned to leave our current project in Yuma and fly to Colorado Springs for some "reflights" before heading home to Dayton, Ohio.  We left Yuma and flew northeastward across Arizona, cut across the upper northwestern corner of New Mexico, into Colorado and the Rockies until reaching Colorado Springs.  If you are familiar with this corner of the United States at all, you already know that my route encompassed a beautiful swath of barren desert, ragged canyons, and breath taking mountain scenery.  It was a beautiful day with unlimited visibility which allowed for spectacular views of places like, Meteor Crater, Shiprock, Wolf Creek Pass, and the Royal Gorge Bridge.   The sun was beginning to set as I passed over most of these locations and that only served to enhance already incredible views.  It is also important to note that it is one thing to cross this area at 40,000 feet, as I have many times since in a jet, but another thing altogether to fly over these places at 11,000 - 15,000 feet.  At that altitude, you feel that you could literally touch the tops of many of those natural monuments (it was all legal though....don't worry).

My friend's story from dinner was similar.  Of course his story included skimming peaks at 500 + knots and at a legal 500 feet off the ground but still, we had a strong aviation connection.  Because each of us had vivid memories from a special flight and those memories will last us each for a lifetime.

I ask and encourage you, what will your favorite flight be? What story will you answer with when someone asks you?  It'll be hard to answer that question unless you do TODAY what it takes to make your dream of flying a reality.  So...Let's Go Flying!

6 Responses to “What’s your favorite flight?”

  1. I have a few flights that could qualify as my "favorite" but I'll just pick one that I don't think I've talked about in other media.

    I was at the recently-reopened Prickett-Grooms airport (6Y9) in the tiny town of Sidnaw in Michigan's upper peninsula, in fact celebrating the reopening of the airport thanks to its purchase by the Frederick family. We'd had a day of picnicing, giving airplane rides to the locals, and four-wheeling in the woods. We had just pulled the ATV's up in front of the local bar & grill to get some burgers for dinner.

    Seeing the sun about to touch the horizon, I said (only half jokingly) "Hey, if we go right now we could get one more quick flight in before it's dark." (6Y9 is an unlit grass strip.) Four pairs of aviators' eyes turned towards the setting sun, silently considering the possibility before Ed Frederick said "Let's go" and gunned his ATV's engine, heading back towards the airport a scant block away (like I said, this is a tiny town).

    We had been flying not too long before so the planes were mostly preflighted - Just a quick check of gas and oil. We'd thought about calling FSS but there wasn't a cloud in the sky, we were pretty sure the president wasn't going to be visiting the deer and bears, and even if we wanted to there weren't any working phones to be found. So, less than five minutes after I made the suggestion, there were three airplanes clawing their way off the small patch of grass into a clear blue sky above a vast, seemingly endless evergreen forest dotted with the occasional lake, all cast in the golden glow of the setting sun.

    The beauty of the flight was that it wasn't about going anywhere, or giving anyone rides. It wasn't about looking at scenery or accomplishing any sort of mission at all. There was no worrying about weather, TFR's, or the FAA (though we obeyed the FAR's anyway), or the hustle and bustle of the rest of the world at their Starbucks and Wal-Marts, the closest of which were hundreds of miles away. It was just the pure, simple, satisfaction of the desire of a few pilots to break free of the surly bonds of earth and poke holes in the sky.

    20 minutes or so later, having cleansed our souls by watching a fiery sunset from our single-engine four-seat perches in the sky, three airplanes full of grinning pilots touched back down on the turf. We put the planes to bed and headed back to the bar&grill to satisfy less-important basic needs.

  2. KDMW to CYTC

    after a couple of hours of trees.... then fly over 2 of the great lakes, and land in downtown Toronto. at 6500, the Falls looks like nothing.

  3. Thanks for following up with some of your own favorite flights. I enjoyed reading about them. As I read, I thought of similar flights of my own.

  4. Rick Wallace Says:
    October 31st, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Check out Steve Tupper's "Flying Cole" blog in the uncategorized section. There's nothing quite like flying your family - to share your passion with them. I posted this as a response to his fabulous blog of having his son Cole watch him fly a Citation Mustang for his first flight. Hope you enjoy his as well as one of my favorite flights - it's a copy of my response there:

    One of my most memorable flights was the first flight for my son. It happened when he was an infant and my wife and I were pass riding to Florida to go on vacation. Weather up and down the East Coast had made a mess of our company's schedules. The flight was close to being canceled until I bumped in to a fellow pilot who volunteered to fly the right seat and fly us down there. There was an extra aircraft since some of the aircraft were finished for the night, so we had it pulled up to the gate and serviced. Flight attendants showed up shortly thereafter and we boarded the plane. As I was welcoming my now customers aboard (instead of my fellow passengers), many comments were made about my "uniform" (khakis and a golf shirt) so I told them that I'd stayed at the Holiday Inn Express the night before. The flight was gorgeous - we flew parallel to a rather nasty line of thunderstorms for about 200 miles all while flying in clear, starlit, smooth skies. The light show was absolutely gorgeous, especially when viewed from afar at 35,000 feet. Arrival in to Fort Myers was crystal clear with calm winds. We viewed the lights of Captiva, then Sanibel Island and turned final over the lights of Fort Myers Beach. As we arrived at the gate, the agent had a few strange looks for us as we pulled up in our civilian clothes with an airplane completely full of passengers. After we got home, I made up a First Flight Certificate on the computer. It showed a picture of the airplane we'd flown and listed the date, city pair, flight number, crew, etc. As I filled out all of the blanks a huge smile came to my face as I signed the blank marked Captain as "Daddy".

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