More than a month had passed since my General Flying Progress Test and I was still to take advantage of my newly acquired flying privileges. From my first lesson, I always said that my first ‘passenger’ would be my dad. Being a man of my word, I booked VH-JOO out for an hour and told the old man to make himself available.
Not a perfect day, showers were predicted for the afternoon and dark clouds loomed over Brisbane.
On the way to Archerfield, being the good pilot that I am, I briefed my passenger on what he could expect during the flight. Having been in a small aircraft before, he was already somewhat prepared. Arriving at Gil Layt’s, I introduced my dad to Steve and Gil, grabbed the keys and headed out. JOO was waiting for us, eager to take flight.
During the entire process of checks, taxiing and run up, I explained what I was doing as I was doing it. I think I was just really excited that someone was actually seeing me do what I had dedicated so much of the last year to. After receiving clearance, the exciting moment had arrived as I lined her up on the black stuff. Turning to my new passenger, I asked, ‘are you ready’? An excited nod later, full throttle sent us hurtling down the runway. After lightly lifting off, the excitement peaked with a ‘holy crap’ from the old man. What now seems standard to me was fascinating to him. It was really refreshing to see the experience in that light and it somewhat renewed the excitement within me as well.
We flew East over Mount Cotton and out over the bay. Even though there was fairly heavy cloud about, Straddie and the islands still looked beautiful from 2000 feet. My dad was amazed as we did a few light turns to see the ferries and other marine traffic from different angles. Pointing out to me where he used to go fishing, I could see the old man was enjoying himself.
From there we cut in and headed for the southern training area to see a little of the mountainous more sparse terrain around Jimboomba. I thought it would be nice for him to see both land and water from above. He was amazed at how small the world is once you take flight. A glance over one shoulder displayed a nice view of the Gold Coast high rises and back over the other you could see the not so spectacular but still nice Brisbane City. Mid glance however you can also take in the views of the bay or back to the mountains around Flinders Peak. It really is a small world up there. Once satisfied he had seen his fill, I pointed JOO towards Park Ridge for our return to Archerfield.
About 10 minutes out, Dad messaged my sister who was eagerly waiting at the fence line of Archerfield with her husband and my mother to watch us fly overhead. To give them the chance to see a few landings, I requested circuits on arrival at Archerfield. As I hadn’t flown for close to 6 weeks, I was sure that my first landing would be a little rusty. As we lined up, I was surprised how much of the process now seems to be second nature to me. We flew over some very excited and frantically waving spectators on the final approach. With a slight screech of the main wheels, we touched down smoothly in a textbook nose high configuration. I was very impressed with myself!
After touch down and much to the excitement of my passenger, I retracted the flaps, applied full throttle and off we went again for another lap of Archerfield. 2 uneventful circuits and perfect landings later, we were taxiing off the runway and headed for the apron.
While it was, I’m sure, a big moment for my father, it was equally as big a milestone for me having successfully taken my first passenger aloft. First of many I’m sure. Who’s next?