Not too long ago, it was the 2016 Woman in Aviation week (#WOAW16), a world-wide event where woman are invited to come forth and share their experience in aviation or experience flight in a light airplane for the first time, and more. Different events are taking place throughout the week. On March 12 I volunteered as a pilot, for the first time, to take girls up in the air to live their first experience of the joy of flying. Something I have been completely hooked on for more than three years.
I have volunteered in the past, on the ground as a boarder, for this same event (taking passenger from the museum to their aircraft), before I earned my private pilot licence and the excitement was invigorating. Living these emotions in the cockpit was so much better! The energy was awesome!
The weather on Saturday was alright although a bit windy. But still, 184 girls and woman were flown up in the sky for free for their first ride in a light aircraft. We embarked the passengers from the Canada Aviation Museum in Ottawa, at the Rockcliffe airport. Many other such days are organised. I invite all of you to look for one close to your home and participate next year.
The climb up was a little bumpy, but I warned my passenger on the ground, and repeated once airborne that the airplane wouldn’t fall from the sky because it was rocking a bit. No one was sick under my watch! With the winds that day, runway 27 circuit was in use, my favorite of the two. We were able to pass over the Casino and see on our left the Museum of history and the Parliament.
Here is the original Runway 27 Flyday circuit. A few days prior to the event, it got cut a little shorter, but still gives the idea. We didn’t go all the way up to Lake Pink, but turned north-east at highway 5.
I gave all of my 6 passengers a chance at the controls, and they loved it. It was great fun. What they were the most surprised about is how sensitive the column control is. You don’t need to move it too much to feel an instant reaction. They were so excited and happy to be flying, and trying their hands at controlling my little Cessna 150. My last passenger’s comment made me laugh: “I’m scared shitless but it is so exhilarating!”,
I had my GoPro camera setup facing us and it made great videos and screen captures. The expressions on their face tells it all!
Flying is a passion I discovered sort of later in my life, compared to some who did in their teens. Some even had the chance of growing up in an aviation family where dad (or mom! or both!) were pilots or in another related trade.
I had to work a hard path to make it through my PPL (like many others). A lof of the merit is attributed to one person in particular who generously took me up flying for free when I was struggling financially on the flying side of my life. He offered rides as it meant nothing to him, just happy to have company, when it meant the world to me to be airborne. Anytime he would offer me his free seat, I would happily scramble non-essential committments in my schedule to be able to hop in.
When I was wrestling with flying schools and almost ready to hang my headset, he always had good words of encouragements. He even went the extra extra mile and became my instructor for which he had to obtain his qualification back. He believed in my capacity to become a licenced woman pilot. I will forever be grateful to him for enabling me to experience the great freedom of flight. Thank you Joe Scoles!
General aviation unfortunately seems to be on a constant decline. Not as many people anymore are obtaining their pilot licence and then every year some are loosing their medical certificat, therefor their privilege to fly. It sure takes a combination of key factors to make it work but what if more people, year round, were able to go flying on empty seats, in airplanes, with pilots that will be flying anyway?
Mahatma Gandhi said:
Be the change that you wish to see in the world.
After receiving so much help, I feel willingly compelled to give back. Or more accurately to share my love of flying with as many as possible.
Lately I had the pleasure of taking as passengers people that never flew in light airplanes, used to fly a few years ago (or longer) and current experienced pilots. I learn from every one of these flights and enjoy every part of it. What if that flight could mean the same as when Joe first invited me in his airplane? They might be getting into a flight school and learn to fly. They might take back their headset, get current again, and be regular flyers visiting our many beautiful Canadian airports. And… they might want to give back too.
I would like to see more people discovering the joy of flying. More people regularly flying and using our airports. More people feeling passionate about aviation. More people being offered a free seat because otherwise they can’t manage (yet) to fly…
Be the change that you wish to see in the world.
This is a committment I’m happy to make. What about you?