October 9, 2007
October 9, 2007
The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: Recently Linda and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary and reflected upon our honeymoon in Maine where we enjoyed the varied coastal terrain around Blue Hill, Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, from the ground and the air. Linda had her first chance to fly a seaplane from a little lake near Bangor and I rode along snapping pictures of vivid fall colors and a big smile with each splashdown.
Linda: Here’s how it happened: there we were, driving around Maine when we spotted a seaplane overhead. Now, a couple of newlywed pilots can’t just let that go without investigating. Excited and determined to find the seaplane base, we drove until we discovered it: a lake with all kinds of planes on floats. There were a couple of Cessna 180’s and 185’s, a 182 and a 172, a Citabria, and two Piper Super Cubs. So hmm, could we fly one? We called the phone number listed on a little shack and out from the nearby house walked the owner of N3426Y, a Cessna 180, who also happens to hold an instructor certificate. Ready to jump in, our instructor asked if I wanted to fly it–left seat. DUH! Mike has his seaplane rating and was happy to see me fly one myself. He patiently rode in the back seat and took lots of pictures. Learning to fly a seaplane is a little different, mainly for taxi, take-off, and landing, getting the feel of piloting a vehicle like a boat until airborne. You have to be careful of the waves and pull the yoke back to keep the prop out of the water. Beginning the take-off “roll” I was taught to feel for the “step” as you would in a boat, increasing the throttle accordingly. Lifting up off the water, we climbed into the cool autumn air.
Over red, orange, green, and golden hues, maple leaves laughing from the tickling of the wind, we rode the skies above a scattering of lakes and ponds and quaint villages with church steeples and country roads. We flew over to this small pond where I could practice some take-offs and landings–I logged four. You sit up a little higher in a plane on floats so the view from the cockpit when descending, getting the feel of where you’ll be when the floats touch the water, is different. I was getting the hang of it and Mike and the instructor both said I did well.
Mike: Thrilled with her first seaplane experience, the following day we took a ride wedged in the back seat of a glider–another first for my new bride. She says it was on this ride she learned something about herself. Gliders are non-motorized aircraft and are an excellent way to improve piloting skills through energy management. I have some convincing to do to get her back in a glider though. You’ll see what I mean next week.
Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com