Last night after work I took my boss for an airplane ride. He’d never been up in a small plane before and I’m sure he was hesitant to go, but at the same time possessed enough curiosity to carry through with the plan. I called the FAA flight service several times before our actual flight time to insure that tonight’s ride would be safe and enjoyable. I picked Dennis up at his home and drove him to Olean Airport. We had a pleasant conversation on our way.
When we got there I preflighted the aircraft and attempted to explain what I was doing. It’s fun having someone along for the ride. Once the pre-flight was over I helped Dennis get buckled in and get his headset on. I climbed in, primed the engine, turned the key and our Skyhawk spun and started. I listened to the automated weather and set my altimeter and then we taxied from the ramp to Runway 22. As we taxied I explained that I was steering the aircraft with my feet and deflecting the ailerons into the wind. We got near the end of the taxiway and I turned the Skyhawk into the wind and finished my checks. Everything was ready for a good flight. I turned the plane onto the main runway and asked Dennis if he was ready. I said a short prayer as usual and looked down the runway as I eased the throttle forward to full power. We had a very light crosswind and I deflected the ailerons into that wind and at 50 knots I eased back on the yoke and we were airborne.
As we began our initial climb I rolled the trim into the nose and made some gentle turns around the pattern and departed to the north. Dennis had lots of questions as we climbed and I did my best to answer them. Having a passenger along is more fun. I love to share my love of flying and tonight was a gorgeous night for a ride. Even though it had been a warm day there were very few thermal bumps. The air was very smooth as we turned easily to the northeast. We flew toward the Village of Franklinville. As we flew I did my best to point out landmarks and help Dennis enjoy the eagles eye view of Cattaraugus County. Our flight took us over the towns of Franklinville, Ellicottville, Humphrey, Great Valley and a half dozen more communities. Dennis was surprised by how many ponds and lakes there were along our route. We flew north over Lime Lake, Arrowhead Campground and the Village of Delevan. In all we spent nearly an hour of sightseeing and then headed back for the airport. As I descended into the pattern I explained the whys and whats. We turned downwind, base and final. As we turned final I could see that the wind had moved me enough off course that a good landing was not going to be possible. I elected to “go-around.” I’m sure Dennis was thinking, “can this knucklehead get us back on the ground?” I climbed and turned us back into the pattern and this time we had runway alignment and we were on a short final for Runway 22 at Olean. We had a soft landing and a smooth rollout. We’d had a nice safe ride. I taxied to the hangar and shutdown the aircraft. Dennis seemed to enjoy our ride and afterward got to meet some other pilots and look at some of the aircraft that were at Olean Airport last night.