I had an email forwarded to me the other day from a lifelong pilot friend of mine with some amazing photos that were titled, “What Pilots See”. There is such a difference between flying in an airliner and flying in a private aircraft, never mind travelling on the ground. Sometimes a small aircraft can be a bit nerve racking if you get yourself into a situation that you were not expecting, with bad weather and such, but if you do proper planning, and make it a priority to do your best to stay out of trouble, the views from your private, personal cockpit are so amazing, and only for you to see. They will be different every time you fly over the same place, depending on the time of day and time of year. Having the freedom to just go where you want to go and see what you want to see, drop down and take a closer look, go higher to get a better perspective, do a 360 to have a second look, it simply cannot be beat.
The flights I have taken all over Western Canada, as for me, that is where most of my flying in non airline aircraft has taken place, have been truly amazing. The glaciers from Vancouver to Whitehorse, and the Nahanni Park North of Fort Simpson, were some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. There is so much beauty that you will never see from the ground, or from 30,000 feet above. Whenever I fly over some amazing lake in the middle of nowhere, I want to come back with a small float plane with a big engine, (you can always get in, but you have to get out). Some of these spots in the mountains will be a bit tough to manoeuvre, but if you have the right aircraft, you can go camping anywhere.
Safety should always be top priority as well as making sure you are going to a place where you are allowed to go. You can always scope out a place then come back after you have done your research. Stop at the closest local airport to your chosen spot, there is sure to be someone there that knows of that location you saw when you flew over. They will tell you not only the best way to get in there, but perhaps there is a little cabin hidden in the trees that you did not see. There are spots like that all over, let’s go exploring and enjoying! With the current social distances measures in place, the local spots are super busy, and will there be any fly-in breakfasts this summer? As pilots, we can go where no others are, and that is truly a gift.
Being able to share the views and remote spots with friends and family is so very special, but being able to experience this all on your own is also quite special, and almost a form of meditation. I have a number of clients that consider being up in the air their happy place, their time to get away from it all and just be. They are flying; they cannot be disturbed, or reached. No one even questions why you did not call back or were not answering when you simply state, “sorry, I was flying all day,” or “all morning”, or whatever the case may be. “I was flying”, is all the explanation you need.
Put a message on your phone that says, “I am out flying, please leave a message”, folks will understand. We are so caught up in this world of instant response, it is nice to have the freedom of having that break. I know that large aircraft now have Wi-Fi on board, so you can be connected all the time. I wonder how many folks preferred it when they were out of touch for a few hours. I would guess it is a larger number than would admit. Yes, we know it is important for business to be available at all times in this current world. How did we get along when we had to wait for a week for a letter to come? Things still happened, I remember, I was doing this before the internet... We took actual photos and sent them to buyers by regular mail. Seems hard to believe now.
So take some time for yourself, get into your aircraft and up in the air. Take in the “pilots view”, rest your brain from the day to day, enjoy the freedom that we share being pilots in the busy world. Instead of just getting from point A to point B, take a different route. Stop somewhere at a small airport for fuel and chat with the locals. Aviation folk are a very special group of helpful, resourceful, kind and sharing people. Pet the local dogs and hangar cats, have a coffee and a visit. Turn off your cell phone, because, you are out flying today, and not available!