Browsing Tag: General Aviation

Coming in for a landing - Photo Gr

Coming in for a landing – Photo: Graeme J W Smith

Lunchtime – I arrive at Airport Road in Warwick, having driven past the usual airport entrance and around the end of the field. There are hangars behind the fence, a big “Learn to Fly Here” sign on the end of the large hangar. A trail of little yellow airplanes painted on the sidewalk leads to the school door in the old control tower building. I go through the door. A counter – I’m immediately greeted by a young guy whose name badge said Chris. There are aviation prints, flags from around the world from people who learned at the school, a case with headsets and aircraft models, some seats, and magazines.

We do some paperwork. Chris detects my Scottish accent. He will need to perform a background check on me before I am ever able to solo. A legacy from 9/11. I explain I’m actually an American and produce a US Passport. Clearly this has just saved a ton of extra paperwork. Big smile from Chris. We talk about – what else – flying. My instructor is finishing up with the last student – he will be right with me.

Someone appears through a door telling the person who is clearly a student what they will do next time. I’m introduced to Greg. He snags me a guest headset from the school’s loaner pile, grabs a flight box for an aircraft, and takes me down to the classrooms on the side of the hangar. Each desk has a computer, books, and some aviation print or similar. We sit down at his and go over what is about to happen. We are cautiously sounding each other out. We turn to the computer and get a volume of information from it (don’t worry, it gets easier with time) weather, standard briefing, radar picture, METARS, TAF’s, TFR’s and NOTAMS all written in code and requiring interpretation. I note the website we are using for later study. We do this before EVERY flight. Especially TFR’s – Temporary Flight Restrictions – they can pop up at a moment’s notice and leave you grounded or in big trouble if you fly.

I film in the backseat as we taxi out for the runway inside a Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

I film in the backseat as we taxi out for the runway on a Cessna 172 Skyhawk – Photo: Steven Paduchak

Though I have been studying aviation management in school for the past three years, I haven’t had a chance to go up for a flight in a general aviation (GA) aircraft yet. I know, that sounds crazy. I’ve traveled commercially all my life. However, all of that changed on an April weekend in Florida, when I took my first GA flight.

At my university, I enrolled in an “Introduction to Film” class to meet an elective requirement. Of course, given the course, we were assigned a project to make….well, you guessed it, a short film. The production was to be about 10-15 minutes long. Coincidentally, the majority of people in my assigned group consisted of aviation majors. Being the AvGeeks that we naturally are, we attempted what everyone expected us to do; make a film related to aviation.

Our film was planned out as follows: a young boy grows up aspiring to become an airline pilot, much like his father. Unfortunately, his father is killed in a plane crash, thus leaving him very bitter, sad, and alone. As the film goes on, skipping five years in between, the young boy struggles to move on in life, but eventually, a recording from the “Black Box” reveals the boy’s father wishing him a happy and successful life in the skies.

Hearing his father speak for the last time is both relieving and motivating for the young boy, whom at that point, is a young man flying for a regional airline. My group and I knew putting this powerful story into a 10-15 minute film would be a challenge, but we decided to give it a shot!