So, for my birthday present, I got to fly an airplane! The night before, the weather forecast said it was going to rain and my mother was freaking out. It turned out the day was perfect, with clear skies and barely any clouds!!! In fact, it was sweltering in the cockpit before taking off.
In the morning, I went to PDK, the DeKalb-Peachtree airport, where the All2Fly Aviation School was located. I wasn’t unfamiliar with this place because I was here for a WW2 aircraft show (we got to peek inside the B17 used in the movie Memphis Belle!). However, we got long delay because our pilot overslept and got stuck in traffic. Anyway, we got a substitute instructor who seems to be a reliable person .
When I first saw the plane, I did not know it was going to be that small. The plane is a Cessna 172M. It is the fifth aircraft on their fleet website: http://www.all2flyaviation.com/the-fleet.html. I actually felt that the plane would not hold me, my dad, and the instructor. It is also kind of old. My dad later checked that this aircraft has been flying since 1975!
Our instructor, Jim, checked around the aircraft and fuel. We then started the engine and taxied to the runway. When we headed to the runway, Ground Control contacted Jim and cleared us for take-off. I couldn’t understand the rest of the conversation. The take-off was smooth and effortless. We just accelerated and then we were in the air! I posted the video of our takeoff here.
Once we were in the air, we immediately saw Buckhead and downtown Atlanta! We then headed east and saw I-285 and the Spaghetti Junction clearly. The view was amazing! After flying straight shortly, we saw Stone Mountain on the right. In the middle of the flight, Jim let me take control of the plane. To tilt the airplane left or right while maintaining the direction, I would turn the steering wheel. To turn left or right horizontally, I would use the pedals. To tip the nose up and down, I would then push or pull the steering wheel. These, in fact, are the three axes of flight control: roll, pitch, and yaw. They were invented by Wright Brothers. I turned the airplane around Stone Mountain and then headed back towards the airport.
I was disappointed that I couldn’t do a barrel roll because the plane was not built for aerobatics (I actually asked Jim but he refused).Unlike traveling by commercial plane, flying a small plane is very different. The bumps in the air were more common, the seats are small, cramped and uncomfortable, and the engine was very noisy. But I got nice scenic views and the freedom to control the airplane. It was so noisy that we had mufflers and talked through microphones. But the headset made me look cool though .
When we were preparing for landing, we were told by Ground or Air Control (I had no idea which one it was) to change runways because someone else was landing on the main runway. We actually had to fly over the airport to land on another runway (runway 21 in the photo), which gave us a nice view of the airport! The landing was straightforward but it was a little bit shaky at the end (because of me ).
We parked at the refueling station and headed back to the car. I felt that the ride was too short. The flight was smooth and pleasant. My dad told my mom that, even though the airplane was old, it flied smoothly and had a better view than the plane he flew last time.
Now, if I hear a small propeller airplane fly by, I will raise my head and check if that is the aircraft I flew. I totally recommend flying an aircraft (of course, with an instructor).