Tuesday 14 July 2015

Travel Tuesday: Flying around Tenerife in the Canary Islands

Wait, who's that in the pilot's seat? Yep, yours truly is flying a plane! More specifically I'm flying a Piper Cherokee Archer II, a small four-seater, around Tenerife.

One of my wife's colleagues, an astronomer named Carlos, is a licensed pilot and loves to fly small planes. Carlos is also a licensed instructor and can fly the big passenger jets too. He's a member of the Real Aeroclub de Tenerife (Royal Flying Club of Tenerife) and offered to take us around the island. When he first said I'd be flying the plane, I made polite laughter at what I thought was a predictable joke. Once we were in the air, however, he handed over the controls to me! I flew for about 45 minutes, making ascents, descents, and simple turns.

Jump the cut for more pics!

The dashboard has several dials you have to keep an eye on or you die. This made it tempting to not look out the window, but you have to do that too or you'll die.
This was the smallest plane I've flown in. I've been in a couple of eight-seaters, once over the Nazca Lines and once when I went parachuting. This one felt like I was in a VW Beetle that somehow got airborne. You feel every breath of wind, and that's even more the case when it's your hands on the controls. It gives you a different perspective on the world. You notice how there's turbulence above where the sea meets land, and you can feel the drafts of wind blowing down valleys as you fly beside the island's mountains. Tenerife is quite mountainous, and at times were were flying out at sea with land directly opposite us. So yeah, you have to look where you're going.

It was a good day for flying, with clear seeing and only a little turbulence. The turbulence made me a bit skittish, especially when it pushed the nose of the plane one way or the other. Carlos didn't seem to mind, though, so that put me at ease. He was snapping photos (the top one is his, the rest are by my wife), and turning around to chat with my wife sitting behind us. He was a good teacher, too, so I felt like I was in good hands. Thanks again, Carlos!

Nice view. i was more concerned with the dashboard.
"We're still alive, that means I'm doing well!"

Pretty as long as you keep your distance.

As the old pilots' saying goes: any landing you walk away from is a good landing. (I didn't land the plane)

So am I going to get my pilot's license? No. It's too expensive and time consuming. I'd have to give up travel! That said, I wouldn't mind piloting a small plane again sometime. . .


Sioux Roslawski said...

Sean--My husband took lessons and stopped just shy of getting his license. (The school went out of business.) It was an exhilarating experience but was also scary.

I've skydived. That takes less time and is waaaay cheaper.

The photo of you standing next to the plane shows how small the plane is.

Knowing you, this experience--at the yoke--will end up in one of your books...

D.G. Hudson said...

I'm really, truly impressed, Sean! What an experience. I don't think I'd be able to do that. . .the photos are great too, as I love aerial photos. Hubs got to steer a large sailing ship off of Key West, Fla. (it had been the mail ship in its younger days) and he loved it!) You have to take these chances when you can. Bravo!

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

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