my roommate comes home from work yesterday and says that a friend of a guy he works with [or something like that] is going flying tonight and invited him to come along and that if i wanted to come, he would give him a call and see if it was alright. as much as i wanted to hang around the house and tweak pictures in iphoto, this sounded like a much better way to go. so we grabbed our cameras and headed down to the spanish fork airport [no, i didn't know there was one either].
many years ago for a scout activity, we got to go flying in some little cessna, which was roughly the same size as my honda civic, and that's what i was expecting for the friday night flight.
no. this thing wasn't a tiny airplane; it was a teeny tiny airplane. imagine two chairs at the marriott center [or any arena seats] inside of a lightweight metal peapod with wings. like that. and a cool little windshield dome that encloses over you like a star wars fighter.
after several safety tests and checks and a briefing on how to exit the plane should we have a 'problem', mark hopped in while i snapped a bunch of pictures for him, playing with shutter speeds and the rotation of the propellor [roughly 1/250 is best; 1/4000 makes it look like it's not even moving].
i hung out on the ground, texting on my phone and calling friends while they flew up around timpanogos and around american fork canyon.
after what seemed about half an hour [i later learned that it was closer to a full hour], they landed and it was my turn to hop in. i put on the headphones [for talking in a noisy cockpit] and gave some goofy smiles to mark's camera as we taxied out to the runway. in a little 'mork from ork' podplane, you hop off the ground pretty quickly, and before long we were flying off into a beautiful sunset toward mt nebo. at times as we flew toward the snow-covered mountains in the setting sun, it looked very much like the opening shots of 'the two towers'.
we had been out for a little bit when he said, 'it's your plane; you're the pilot.'
i tenderly took the stick and moved it a little--yes, i was controlling this plane.
lest there be any question, this was nothing like playing 'top gun' on my old nintendo. yes, i knew that the play wasn't really sitting on anything, but had this weird feeling that if i turned too far to the left or right that we would fall over... pull back, and the plane noses up. i push forward, and the plane dives; i assure you, i barely pushed--propelling us toward the ground was not something i was ready to try yet. all death-potential aside, this was really quite cool.
we looped around nebo, where some gusts of turbulant wind bobbed us around enough to make me grab the window [i don't much like turbulance even in big planes], and as we were flying over the land at magic hour, i had to try something. i reached back and pulled out my [light, thin] wallet and set it on the dashboard in front of us and asked if we could do something i had heard about; i knew the physics of it, but physics is best seen in practicality, not theory. i asked if we could climb and then do a nose dive, and he agreed.
the plane went up and we got pressed back into our cushy seats, and then we turned and faced the ground. i felt myself float out of my seat [by the way, i was grateful for my seatbelt], and my wallet did an excellent impression of the 'blue danube waltz' scene from '2001'.
yes, it was awesome.
yes, we did it three times.
yes, i was happy there was a safety net behind the seats; otherwise, the tools would have ended up in our laps.
grinning from ear to ear, we headed back to the airport, very much enjoying the tranquil night scene of lights below us.
before heading home, mark and i stopped at his house and helped him move a piano--certainly a fair price for a good game of wallet-floaties.