I got to not only take my first ride in an airplane as a traffic reporter today, but also my first-ever ride in a small private aircraft! It was an old Cessna 172 similar to the one shown here.
We took off at about 5:45 AM (while still dark) from a small airport south of DC and not far from Andrews AFB. We turned west across the Potomac and followed the Beltway in Virginia around to the northwest Maryland suburbs.
Actually, I didn't do any reporting. I was sitting in the back while my cow-orker and the pilot were doing all the talking. Not that I could hear anything they were saying, thanks to the Cessna engine! I thought of Bill Cosby's routine about Fat Albert's car that had a Cessna engine in it.
I was trying to figure out what everything was from the air. I did pretty well with Maryland highways, but I was a bit more clueless in Virginia. The fact that I abhor driving in Northern Virginia doesn't help matters much!
So maybe I was a bit googly about just being up in the air. Those who know me know I'm not the most comfortable with flying, and today didn't change that much, even though it was a comparatively quiet day for flying. Still, I was doing my share of gawking. Here's some of what I saw from between two and three thousand feet up:
- Lights in neighborhoods that appeared to flicker on and off as we flew over in the darkness.
- Golf courses. Never realized how many there were. Even got my first look at Congressional, where the U.S. Open has been held a few times.
- Swimming pools. It surprised me to see how many appeared to be functioning even now.
- Perfectly straight lines in fields at the Beltsville Agricultural Center.
- All of the Goddard Space Flight Center, which you can't see at all from the roads.
- Many playgrounds, parks, and soccer and baseball fields just on the other sides of sound barriers from the local interstates.
Three hours later, we landed a bit hard, mainly because there was some excess baggage in the rear of the Cessna. Namely, me. What a bounce!