A Few Years Later…
After making a few degree changes during my first few years of college, I settled on the Aerospace Engineering degree from The University of Alabama in Huntsville. This forced a move to Huntsville AL in the Tennessee Valley which is home to the Redstone Arsenal Flying Activity.
Redstone Arsenal Flying Activity has northern Alabama’s premier Flying Club where those individuals lucky enough to be in the authorized patron category can learn to fly or take their already hard earned rating to a higher level.
I ran across a banner that advertised the Flying Activity Open House, which was offering Introductory Flights for $30. I was very intrigued at the idea of taking an introductory flight and for a relatively cheap price of 30 bucks how could I say no! I waited a few days and it was finally here, on a warm Saturday in the heat of early summer. I had a Saturday class (Dynamics) until noon, and unfortunately a test that day. During the test I was tortured by the sounds of the planes humming over the campus, I wasn’t sure it was the Redstone planes, but by the sounds they were small single engine planes so it had to be them. Luckily I must have studied well enough and was able to finish my test quickly. So I headed straight to the Redstone Flying Club to hopefully get my introductory flight.
I arrived at the Flying Club, there was a ton of people there and it seemed like a plane was taking off every few minutes. I signed up for a flight and grabbed a few slices of Pizza! I was pretty hungry from being in class all morning. I waited while watching the planes takeoff, I was in heaven being so close to the runway as each plane taxied and took off to the south. After 15 or 20 minutes, could have been an hour, time was flying and I was having fun! Then my name was called and it was my turn to fly.
I met the instructor, can’t remember his name unfortunately, I was too nervous with excitement. We walked out to the the plane, it was a Cessna 152, N89358. Little did I know that I would become very familiar with this same aircraft a few years later… After walking around the plane doing a quick preflight we got in the plane, to my surprise I got in the left seat (pilots always fly from the left side). Not sure why I was surprised since it was a training flight after all. The engine was loud! we put our headsets on so we could hear each other and the air traffic. The instructor was great, he explained everything in a very understandable way.
The instructor controlled the plane until we were airborne, then gave me the controls as we climbed away from the runway. We departed the area to the south down to Martin Rd. with the Tennessee river in sight then turned left and followed the Martin to Hwy 231, Memorial Parkway. We were flying around 2500′ altitude. We turned to the north and followed the Parkway up to Alabama A&M University, then we turned back towards the Saturn V rocket at the Space and Rocket Center. We flew directly over UAH where I was taking my Dynamics test earlier in the day and confirmed my thoughts while taking the test. I’m not sure how well I was flying, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the ground looking at everything that I saw everyday from the ground but from the air was totally different and pretty cool too! As we got closer to the Saturn V I could see the Redstone runway. The instructor let me control the plane all the way down to the runway but took over a few hundred feet before we landed. I was pretty glad he took the controls my palms were getting pretty sweaty as the ground edged closer and closer. Finally we landed and taxied back to the Flying Club.
This was an awesome experience and was everything I thought it would be. It confirmed what I had thought on my first flight as a 9 year old. I had to get my Private Pilots License!