Today, I went on a discovery flight with Michigan Flyers.
Before I talk about the flight itself, I am going to give a bit of background for why I decided to go on the flight. I first became interested in flying sometime in middle school, I unfortunately do not remember exactly when or exactly why. I took a discovery flight back then, courtesy of my father, and at that point became set on eventually learning how to fly. The past few years, it has been a bit hard not to think of flying with airports so close and student groups mentioning it, but I avoided giving it serious consideration until this summer when it began to be discussed at my work. Aside from being one of the most knowledgeable, capable, and supportive people I know in general, my boss at Barracuda Networks has been a pilot for the past couple years and absolutely loves flying and will not hesitate to share his enthusiasm about it. Avoiding the conversations would have been pretty close to impossible but it still took me a while to formally decide I would take the lessons. My main reason for not wanting to schedule the lessons immediately was the time commitment I thought it would take. When a coworker pointed out that it would not take more than a few hours a week of actual flying, and that it really could be quite flexibly scheduled, I was sold. It took me a couple weeks after that to get the discovery flight set up and a couple more weeks to get in but now I have finally signed up for flight lessons!
Getting back to the flight itself, it was one of the most exhilarating experiences I have had in my life. We started with doing a pre-flight check of the Skycatcher. These always take a while and for good reason: when you are not able to pull over to check on a problem or fix it you want to make sure that everything really is working flawlessly. We took a bit longer than normal since Joe (my flight instructor) was also using this as a chance to show me the plane but this was definitely time well spent.
As we were taxiing to take off, I got to see the new UofM helicopters flying around. In addition to looking much more awesome than the old helicopters, they have really awesome specs being able to travel about twice as fast as the plane I was flying. After watching them for a bit (and me having some issues steering the plane) we took off right in front of one of the helicopters we proceeded on course for a while. I took over the controls and we began flying out of Ann Arbor, executing a few small turns on the way. We watched the helicopter land on the roof of the hospital (I missed seeing the actual landing unfortunately) and then continued out of the city.
We continued flying with a few turns and eventually decided to turn back around and return to the airport. We flew back over campus (I flew pretty much right over the Barracuda Networks building) at which point Joe took over flying for the rest of the time (I had been feeling a bit sick for a while and it started to reach the point where I was having issues). Everything became a lot smoother after he took over. We landed right behind one of the UofM helicopters (without any problems) and taxied back to the terminal. I signed up immediately for the flight instruction program and should be starting that in a couple weeks after I get back from Leadership Academy. For now, I have an online Cessna course to start with along with a padfolio containing operation handbooks for the 152 and 172 and a three hundred dollar pen (no, not really, but it is called that). As far as what plane I will be flying in, I am going to be training in the Cesna 152. The Skycatcher is a plane I would love to fly for fun one day but it was a bit cramped, hard to control on the ground, and Joe recommended learning in the 152. Once I actually get my license, the Skycatcher will most likely be the first plane I get an endorsement on just because it does seem like it would be fun to fly (if I actually knew what I was doing).
Going flying today was one of the more fun things I have done and is definitely something I would love to repeat. In fact, I will probably be repeating it many times throughout the next year and expect to have a blast! I cannot wait to have a license and be able to go for flights on my own and the best part is I get to spend the next year learning how to fly, by flying! I cannot imagine something more fun to do and hope I will love this as much as I think I will!