I woke up not sure why I had set alarm on a Sunday. It clicked, I was going in a plane today. Not a normal plane with 300 odd seats, a 4-seater Warrior II. Destination: Texada Island.
We drove down to the Boundary Bay Airport where there was upwards of 100 small planes of various shapes and sizes. I was thinking to myself “how on earth do these stay in the air?”. If you lean on the wing, the whole plane sways. This was a new experience and a whole lot different to the behemoths that we normally board.
To get the plane out of the hanger, we had to move another persons plane. We do not push other peoples cars out the way, but it was okay to push this random plane to another parking spot for the day? Crazy.
We rearranged the planes (brute strength), let pilot Paul do the safety checks and boarded ready for take off. I boarded in the front seat with an array of controls within arms reach, co-pilot Jub. I felt sorry for my buddies in the back seat but before I knew it we were off to Texada Island, flight time: 1 hour.
It was so easy getting in the air! Before I knew it we were cruising at our desired altitude of 1500ft. It really was not that high looking down at the ground, it is crazy to think how small you look up in the sky, I never notice small planes in the sky.
Visibility was almost non-existent to start as we moved through some rain clouds. The pilot was in constant contact with control towers to ensure we were tracking okay (away from other planes and mountains I hoped). Before I knew it we were flying past Downtown Vancouver.
Then I got the words I had been secretly hoping for “you take control for a while”. At this point we were slightly North West of the city. I had a quick run through the controls; pull out to go up, down to go errrr down?, and change direction like you do in a car. The controls were very sensitive. My mission, to head along the North Vancouver shoreline and eventually get us headed towards (and over) the saddle on Bowen Island. The time went fast, through the saddle we went with no Mayday required, next mission Texada Island. Approaching the island, we hit some kind of turbulence, the plane started to bounce around as if it were to drop out of the sky at any moment. I relinquished the controls.
MORE CANADA: BEST HIKES IN VANCOUVER
I had successfully flown a (real) plane! It was awesome. I am still on my learners drivers license after 8 years, at this stage I would say I am closer to getting a pilots license, the feeling of being able to see everything was great, and the communication with other planes in the surrounding airspace was great, you knew what everyone was doing and the guys at the control tower were always there for backup. I think the one thing I do not like about driving is that it is hard to know what others are planning, there is no communication. Does this mean I do not trust others ability to follow rules?
We enjoyed our time on Texada Island, heading to Gillies Bay to check out the (tiny) town. On our way back it was my turn to jump in the back with co-pilot Paula taking my place. On the way back we circled downtown Vancouver a couple times and I managed to snap some photos and truly appreciate the view before we landed back at Boundary Bay Airport rearranging the planes as we found them.
If you have the opportunity to get in a 4 seater plane for a day, go for it! It is a unique experience, nothing like those flights you take to get from A to B. To be able to say you have flown a plane is unique. I even lived to tell the tale.