Touring landmarks from 3,000 feet in the air
When I received the invitation to go for a ride with Let’s Go Flying my stomach did a loop-de-loop. You know the feeling I’m talking about – when your stomach drops and your fists clamp down on the safety bar in the roller coaster amusement ride. It’s the rush you experience of being afraid and then, after the ride is over, you immediately want to do it again. Well, I tossed my fear of flying an airplane in the jump seat and accepted the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) offer of Let’s Go Flying! This Discovery Flight program is an opportunity to show the general public how easy it is to learn to fly and perhaps even obtain your pilot’s license.
To quote Tom Petty, “I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings. Coming down is the hardest thing.” Turns out, Petty knew what he was singing about.
Clear for take off from Concord’s Buchanan Field Airport
My introductory flight lesson was arranged through Pacific States Aviation at Concord’s Buchanan Field airport. My instructor, Rashid Yahya, Chief Operations Officer at Pacific States Aviation, had me join him on the “walk around” where he explained the importance of checking the clarity of the jet fuel (air bubbles in the fuel line = not good) and taught me how to fly the plane around the San Francisco Bay Area. We reviewed some pilot lingo; key words such as ATC (air traffic control), ailerons (helps the airplane turn in the air) altimeter, elevator, rudder and yoke, and I learned about my airplane – a Cirrus SR-22. This plane is so high tech that it comes with its own parachute – to carry the entire plane!
Cirrus airplane first flight
“The Cirrus is the BMW of flight training,” laughed Yahya. Indeed, this sweet six cylinder, 310 horse power, four seat airplane retails for a cool $300,000. But not all airplanes are that expensive. In fact, many of Pacific States Aviation customers rent planes from the company or join together to purchase a plane that is shared by several pilots.
Flying an airplane
The most exciting part of my flight was when I taxied down the runway, leaving the surface of the earth, in a heavier than air machine. It was quite amazing to realize that I was flying the plane myself. I was launching us up to the heavens – or at least above the San Francisco Bay Area, over Alcatraz Island and next to the Golden Gate Bridge. I have sailed under the Golden Gate in a rigid inflatable boat (RIB), floated over the Golden Gate in a Zeppellin, sipped champagne while cruising under the bridge on a yacht and floated under this San Francisco landmark in a superliner cruise ship, but piloting a plane was a new experience for me.
Let’s Go Flying
Have you always dreamed of flying? Are you ready to begin your first flight? Learning to fly an airplane and, perhaps earning your pilot’s license, is fun and reasonably affordable. The introductory flight lessons are priced around $100. Visit the Let’s Go Flying website for more information. If you wish to continue with flight training after your initial first flight, your time in the air will count toward the 40 hours required by the Federal Aviation Administration for a private pilot certificate. Anyone, from a beauty queen to a teen, is capable of learning to fly.
Find Pacific States Aviation on Facebook.
If You Go:
Pacific States Aviation (925) 685-4400
51 John Glenn Drive, Concord, CA 94520
I was a guest of the Let’s Go Flying program and Pacific States Aviation.