It was a clear Friday morning, and I had already got nervous. The instructors told us the day before we would be making our own radio calls during our flights. I almost forgot how to do them, but Mr. Tomeny handed us a sheet with all the necessary calls.
Then came the group pickings. I was put into the last group, so that gave me time to relax.
When we came over to the five planes at Florence Municipal Airport that would be flown, we got to choose which plane we wanted to fly. I chose the Cessna 172 as my plane, because of the design of the craft and paint scheme.
During our waiting time, we toured the Oregon Coast Military Museum, which was right next door. Inside the museum were old items from World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and more. Even a tiny movie theater was in there, showing documentaries of wars from the past.
(photo by Jared Anderson/Siuslaw News;
above photo courtesy Boys and Girls Club of Western Lane County)
Soon it was my turn to fly. I got into the cockpit of the plane with the pilot and we went through safety procedures and began taxiing. I braced myself for anything bad to come.
We hit the runway and picked up speed. I was ready.
Then, we floated. It felt like a ship on the sailing seas of the sky.
The view was beautiful. Down below, cars looked way slower, appearing to only go 20 mph on the highway.
My pilot told me to look ahead and I could see the Sisters Mountains — and they were more than 90 miles away! Vision must’ve improved for me, as I cannot see the Sisters from the ground.
As we reached the lighthouse, I made my first radio call. Then, as we turned toward Mapleton, something epic happened. I was given the chance to fly a life-sized plane, the Cessna 172, across the skies. I slowly grabbed the yoke and took control.
Then I knew that there was nothing to fear about flying. I was on a floating ship of the skies.
As we came to Mapleton, I had to follow the Siuslaw River all the way to the old railroad bridge. I slowly and carefully turned the yoke to the right, and it was a success. I then enjoyed flying even more, and, to make things better, it was easy.
I aligned the plane to fly exactly over Highway 126 all the way to the old bridge. When we reached the bridge, the pilot had me turn to the left towards an island I had never heard of in Siltcoos Lake. On the way, I saw a landscape of hills with chopped down trees out my window.
Soon, we reached the island, and turned to the right. For an extra challenge, I had to turn while making a radio call at the same time. It turned out perfect. I had proven to myself I could multitask while in the skies.
We then headed up north on the beach. We watched the cars roll down Highway 101, the buggies jump the dunes and the waves roll on the ocean.
Florence looked a lot smaller up in the air as we flew back to the airport.
It was then time to land. The pilot and I lined up to the runway, and we landed.
From there, we celebrated the graduation of the academy students in the hangar, and my parents were waiting. We talked about how the flight went.
I finally knew how it felt like to be a bird up in the skies. It also served as a little preparation for me, as I will soon be taking an international flight on a commercial air- line.
When the test scores came back, Logan got the highest score on the test. As a reward, he got to fly on the Aero Legends Stearman biplane with Mr. Tomeny. We watched him take off, and see him set for the skies.
After he landed, we got our rewards for completing the course. We each got a cer- tificate, wings with a seal, a challenge coin and a picture of all of us that was taken from a drone earlier in the course. It was a great celebration, with a barbeque of ham- burgers and hot dogs.
Florence Aviation Academy was some- thing I came into with uncertainty and fear, but now I find flying interesting.
Now, with this knowledge of aviation, I can learn to fly. This is something that everyone should try.