|By Chase Kohler|
We departed just after 10:00 A.M. in a Cessna 172R. I spent most of the pre-flight checks just soaking in where everything was and getting my seat adjusted. The taxi and radio communication were very familiar to me as I listen to ATC scanners. As we gained speed and lifted, my body went into panic mode, essentially the first time my body experienced real flight. That panic quickly turned to amazement as we headed south of the airport, going up to 3,000 feet to avoid incoming weather clouds, but eventually settling around 1200 feet to fly under them. Thermals became an anxiety inducer at first, but it all started to become second nature pretty quickly. My thought of not having a parachute was somewhat eased when I was told Cessnas glide “pretty good for a few moments” if the engine fails. I don’t think words can capture the new perspective of actually being in the air, and half the time I was looking down to visualize what people were seeing from the ground from my standard viewpoint. While it seemed like movement was at a snail's pace, we covered a decent amount of ground during our 25 minute ride. After overflying the Jefferson Barracks area, we turned back and followed the river before turning on final approach. I learned that taking photos while flying gives me the same sensation of reading while in a moving car, so air-to-air photography may become another hurdle to overcome. We approached the runway, and after the usual thump we turned left and headed back to the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum.
Despite a little haze, I was ecstatic walking out of the cockpit. This was a new personal accomplishment, and only hours later it felt more like a vivid dream than actual reality. I definitely want to continue pursuing flight training once I finish my studies, and as everyone else in the aviation community, the bite will remain for the duration of my life. I want to thank St. Louis Flight Training, my instructor, Josh, the Greater St. Louis Air andSpace Museum, and The Aero Experience for making this flight happen. It means more than I can express in words, and just gives me the ambition and desire for more.
(Thanks, Chase, for your thoughts about the flight. Chase is the webmaster for the Missouri Aviation Historical Society. Also, thanks to The Aero Experience Contributor Fred Harl for the photos).