The night before was stormy and very windy, unusual for Hawaii, where I lived at the time. I woke up several times that night disappointed because I thought the flight would have to be cancelled. Luckily when the sun rose above the mountains the sky was clear and the wind was gone. I rode my motorcycle to the hanger, on the south side of the airport, where I was meeting Scott my CFI. We walked out the backside of the hanger to a row of tie downs. Nestled between some twins was the airplane we would be flying, a 1998 Cessna Skyhawk 172, N9512F. Scott showed me the checklist and we walked around a pre-flighted the plane. The plane seemed so simple. Cables that activate the control surfaces and a small four cylinder engine turning a propeller. I had flown a lot in my life, but not in something that felt smaller than a car. We hopped in and completed the pre-flight. The Lycoming engine roared to life and the flight had begun.
Honolulu airport is very busy and exciting. Attached is Hickam Air Force Base, there are F-22’s, F-15’s, and C-17’s stationed here. We took off after a large FedEx DC-10 on the 4L runway. I had my hands on the yoke, but Scott took care of everything else. I was astounded by how easily the wheels lifted off the ground at 60 knots. The plane seemed to effortlessly gain altitude over the clear blue water of Oahu. I was nervous when I saw the speed at only 73 knots, surely planes needed to go faster than that to stay aloft?! Scott reassured me that was indeed all the airspeed that we needed. We headed east around the island. We flew past Waikiki and the Diamond Head Crater. It was the most amazing feeling in the world and it felt incredibly natural to control the plane. For the first time in my life I felt how solid air could actually be.
We decided to fly counter-clockwise around the island. The view from the Cessna was incredible; you get a perspective of the land, like none other. The weather was good and we were able to stay below all the clouds. When we flew by the Kaneohe Marine Corp Base we had a C-17 pass about 1000 feet underneath us on its way in to land. We also encountered several coast guard helicopters also cruising around the coastline. The radio calls that Scott were making sounded like gibberish to me, but I didn’t care. For the first time in my life I was controlling an aircraft and I felt at home. The flight took about an hour and we came back and landed on 4L. This flight got me truly interested in aviation and I never looked back.
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