Monday, June 14, 2010


Until yesterday the last time I flew in a light plane was about 25 years ago and the pilot was Gord Hjertaas.  He’s dead now but not from anything to do with flying.  At the time we were both in Regina, likely for the Farm Progress Show and for some reason I bummed a ride back to Saskatoon with him.  It must have been really late when we left Regina because I recall it being a night flight and it doesn’t get dark until close to midnight in June in Regina. 

We had to break camp in Kananaskis early yesterday so that we could get back to Airdrie in time for Camiel and me to go flying.  He has bought a 1/3 share in a little Grumman and he is having a lot of fun with it.  Apparently one of the partners only puts about an hour a year on the plane and the other only flies a couple of hours a month so its like having a plane but only paying for 1/3 of it. 

We left the airstrip at Airdie around 3:30 and headed east for Drumheller.  Airdrie is inside the Calgary control zone but as long as you stay under 5,000 feet you don’t have to deal with Calgary control so we snuck out around 4,300 feet.  The strip is at about 2,600 so we were close to the ground but we got a lot closer before the day was out.  Its way more fun to fly close to the ground where you can see what is going on and feel the sense of movement.  When you fly commercial at 30,000 feet you don’t have any connection to the ground and even in a light plane at 10 or 12,000 feet you feel pretty insulated.  When you get down under 1,000 feet above ground level though you can see individual people on the ground, you can watch your shadow moving over the ground, you have to dodge the occasional flock of birds or soaring hawk so you generally feel like you are really flying. 

There’s a lot of water lying around.  You really get a sense of how wet the country is when you fly over cropland that looks like this picture.


We stayed in the Red Deer river valley until we were about straight east of Red Deer and then headed southwest toward Olds. 

We wandered around the hangars in Olds until Camiel recognized another Dutchman who keeps some experimental planes in a spotless hangar at the airstrip.  The plane he was polishing on Sunday is a kit plane with a 300 HP Lycoming that will do close to 400 MPH cruise.  He said its an 8 minute trip from Banff to Olds.  Probably around $50 per minute for fuel but no doubt a fun way to travel.

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