Thursday, December 29, 2011

Flying in Bill's Four-Seat Plane

Flight: December 29, 2011 at 1530.

I got to fly in a small plane for the first time yesterday. The experience was awesome. After I arrived Bill drove me to his plane by way of his classic car. The gas tank was located in the dashboard and Bill turned the engine on by pushing a button. The

 car was manufactured before the standardization of using the key to turn the cars on. For being a fairly old car it handled surprisingly well. As we were approaching the plane Bill explained to me what would be happening and what I should expect for takeoff. It was fascinating to hear about Bill's experiences flying.

Once we got to the airplane I was surprised with the amount of restraints necessary to keep the plane from blowing away; from chains and rope to wooden panels holding the flaps in their proper position. In the cockpit Bill showed me all of the flight indicators or "steam gauges" as they are called by those who are used to working with digital gauges. The sheer number of indicators and controls was overwhelming to someone like me who only recently stepped foot on a plane. The one gauge I inquired about was the compass, located right in the middle of the "dashboard." I was surprised the compass could work in a vertical orientation. To which Bill responded that the compass itself is located in the wing and is mounted horizontal so it can work properly. The "compass" on the dashboard only displays the compass reading actually taken in the wing. Once Bill started the plan I was impressed with how quiet it ran. I was expecting an extremely loud flight. It was still

 too loud to hear one another speak clearly in the cockpit, even though we were seated next to each-other, but just barely. For this reason we both wore headphones for communication which also helped to block out some of the noise. Once putting on the headphones we starting heading toward the runway (see video). Once we got close to the runway Bill performed a series of tests and last minute checks on the plane before takeoff. The feeling of leaving the ground behind was spectacular (see video). After we gained sufficient altitude, Bill turned to me and asked if I wanted to fly the plane for a little while! I have never flown a plane before so even performing small turns and maneuvers was impressive. To turn the plane I needed to not only turn the wheal but use the foot pedals and point the nose of the plane upward. Because turning takes energy, pointing the nose upward keeps the plane flying level. Near the end of the flight we were luck to catch a beautiful sunset (see video).
This was a truly an amazing day thanks to Bill.