Today I flew in a small Piper Cherokee with Jared, Debby’s son, who is working towards his commercial license. My greatest concern was motion sickness from the plane’s sudden movements but we had a doggy bag just in case.
Due to a head-on collision in a car three years ago, I have developed uneasiness with sudden movements. I wanted to overcome my concerns through today’s flight. I felt confident in my pilot’s abilities and that removed many of my fears.
Jared picked me up at my home at 11:30. We travelled to John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport for our flight. The air was crisp and clean and it was a perfect sunny Autumn day. As he drove into our destination, we passed a number of Purolator Cargo Planes (pictured below) and parked in front of Peninsulair building.
Peninsulair is a flight training school with a fleet of aircraft for training purposes. After Jared checked paperwork inside their building, we proceeded to our plane, a well-maintained Cherokee. Here is my photo next to its propeller:
Jared did a visual inspection of the plane from front to back including check of the fluid levels. Then we entered the plane from its one door on the passenger-side. We adjusted our seats, securely latched the door, and connected our headphones in order to hear each other in the air.
Jared checked the various instruments on the panel in front of us. When everything checked out, he started the engines and the propeller blades started rotating. I learned that you change altitude by moving the control column and that the altitude is controlled by the throttle.
Interior of a Cherokee Piper
We were ready now for take off and Jared contacted Air Traffic Control for clearance. The sky was covered with soft, billowy clouds. After a short wait, we rolled down the runway. The take off was exhilarating and in a small plane you really felt connected to your environment unlike a jumbo jet where you can only view the outside through a window.
I saw the whole city with the cars, buildings and trees below appearing as miniature models. The Cherokee isn’t a high performance plane but it’s ride is something I really appreciated. Jared stated that its the perfect plane for training because it is very forgiving. We headed East toward Lake Ontario, passing Hamilton, Stoney Creek and Grimsby.
Over Lake Ontario with view of traffic on QEW Niagara
Jared decreased altitude to allow me to get a better view of the landscape, I felt somewhat nauseated similar to the feeling you get when a Roller Coaster drops down. With change of focus to the flight, the scenery down below, and the conversation with Jared, I soon lost that feeling. Jared’s style of flight allowed me to relax and enjoy the spectacular view and in time the downward movement of the plane no longer affected me.
We soon reached our destination: Niagara Falls. I took this beautiful photo of Casino Niagara with mist rising from the Horseshoe Falls.
A little further and we were above the Canada-US border. Of course, you don’t see an actual line drawn across the two countries as in maps. This picture shows Goat Island with the US shore on the left and the Canadian side jutting out on the right.
On the return flight, we went through more of the Niagara countryside, so I could fully appreciate the Autumn foliage. We flew beneath clouds, where there are updrafts, and therefore we experienced light turbulence. I felt slight bumps like driving an off-road vehicle on uneven terrain. The turbulence was nothing to worry about since our altitude remained stable.
We arrived back at the Hamilton Airport in just over an hour. I was most impressed with how Jared navigated through flight paths in space. The landing was also impressive, though Jared felt it could have been smoother.
Hamilton Airport from Above
On our drive back, Jared and I decided to go for lunch. We had some spicy falafels and salad. The flight was a success, since I regained my confidence with downward movement during flight. A few times the sudden decrease of altitude did make me feel uneasy, but I just reminded myself that I am safe with my pilot and just to enjoy the flight. Once the feeling passed, I loved the whole experience of perceiving the world from a bird’s eye perspective. I also gained an understanding of what makes flying such a thrill.