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Flight Journal
Research for Sparks Fly

The day is hot but comfortably breezy, the sky a hazy blue, heaped with pearl-colored candyfloss clouds. Cumulus. The turbulence makers.

The place is Waterloo Regional Airport (YKF). The plane is a Cessna 172 Skyhawk, C-GTLY (Tango-Lima-Yankee), a four-seater.

The camera is loaded. The flight plan is filed. It's high noon. A good day to d er, fly.

Shelly, my fearless instructor, finds me a headset and hands me the keys.

The walk-around - Tango-Lima-Yankee

We do the walk-around together, making sure all the nuts and bolts and rivets are still intact. I bleed off a little av-gas from the wings and hold it up to the light. Blue. No water. This is good. Shelly shows me how to check the gas tanks with a dipstickand double check the oil levels. We kick the tires and and then make sure the propellers are smooth and the elevators, rudder, and ailerons are moving freely.

I take the pilot's seat, pushing this and pulling that, nodding as if I know exactly what I'm doing. Turn the key. Raise the flaps. Open the throttle. Follow the yellow line. No problem. This is much easier than the simulator. Feet firmly on the pedals, I weave drunkenly up the middle of the runway, but only for the first hundred yards or so... then my feet figure it out and I'm on the straight and narrow.

Follow the yellow line...

The plane ahead, another introductory flight, runs off into the ditch. Shelly says "See? You're doing great! Now, just pull back on the yoke..."

Whoop! I'm flying! Doing compass headings, finding the horizon and aiming for landmarks, turning, climbing ... accidentally descending once. "Um ... are we all right?" asks Shelly, hands not quite on the controls. Hey, no problem!

...and fly!  That's me up there!

It's hot and hazy. No long distance vistas, but with so much to think about, I decide it's just as well. The turbulence isn't the bumpy kind. It feels like something grabs on and tugs, pulling sideways or giving a little shake. I'm constantly correcting to stay on course.

I fly all the way to West Montrose to see the covered bridge, then on over the Elora Gorge. Straight on till morning sounds good to me, but apparently Shelly has places to be.

Waterloo and the Grand River - from the air.

Landing looks easy, but Shelly decides to take over just before touchdown....something about keeping the nose up and landing with the wheels down.

Final words: What a rush! I really do love research!

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Sparks Fly - An Avalon Romance by Cheryl Cooke Harrington


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