I went flying tonight. Yes, I was out again in my favorite Cessna Skyhawk, Getting accustomed to flying and landing after nearly two years of a forced hiatus has been challenging. This is the third time as pilot in command. It was a beautiful night to fly. I performed all my pre-flight checks and taxied toward the end of Runway 22 at Olean Airport. Crisp and a little cooler than the weather we had been experiencing the Cessna sprung easily into the air after a short ground roll. A little bump and crab into the wind as I cleared the field. By the time I was a thousand feet above ground level the air got very smooth. I turned gently crosswind and then departed the pattern on the downwind leg. I headed north flying toward the Village of Franklinville, New York where I live and then I flew back over the airport and over Cuba Lake. As I looked down I could see the ripple caused by the wind on the surfaces of the lakes and ponds I flew over. Flying at an altitude of 3500 to 4000 feet I spent nearly an hour traversing miles of countryside and unlimited flight visibility.
Forty years ago this spring my grandparents paid for my first ride in a Cessna 170. I remember that ride like it was yesterday. Tonight as I flew along I thought of them and how much I loved them and how thoughtful it was of them to sponsor my first ride in a Cessna. Forty years ago I dreamed of becoming a pilot and having my own plane. This Skyhawk isn’t mine but today I’m a pilot and have been one for nearly ten years. Dreams can come true. Tonight was one of those lovely nights that make me glad God blessed me with pilot wings.
My flight ended with the challenge of a direct crosswind landing. I hadn’t done that in a couple of years. As I descended toward the runway on final, I dipped my right wing into the wind and used my left rudder to maintain runway alignment. My right wheel touched first with a chirp and then my left. I returned safely to earth and one more challenge mastered in this year’s flying.
If you’re interested in flying and live near the Olean, New York area. The owner of the plane I rent is a great instructor. Tom Graves is one of the reasons I’m back in the air. Contact him at Olean Cattaraugus Aviation.
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