come fly with me

Last year my Dad faced one of life's imponderables - what do you get the woman who has everything for her birthday? Or perhaps 'seems to want for nothing' is a more accurate way of describing my Mum. Anyway, inspired by Mum's recent revelations about enjoying helicopter flights and dreaming of riding a motorbike along the North coast of Ireland, my Dad bought her a one hour flight in a small plane. On Saturday - Mum, Myself and Mr Chris Broten (Julianne's Dad) took off from Newtownards airfield. Oh yes - I should add that we were joined by David, our laid back, but fully qualified pilot from the Ulster Flying Club.The weather was great for the flight - a little on the misty side, but visibility was pretty good. We flew over Strangford Lough to Newcastle and then over the Mourne Mountains - mostly at between 2500 and 3000 ft which meant we were able to see a lot of detail - like the first 1 min of your average flight in a commercial jet. I know the Mournes are not exactly mountainous to those of you used to the delights of real mountains, but they looked incredible from our little Cessna 172 (SP) - very inviting for some hiking later this summer.

After our flight over the Mournes we followed the coast for a while and flew over Portaferry and watched as the famous Portaferry ferry departed for Strangford. Our pilot - who was mostly the very drool David (As we fly over a Graveyard comments, "that's the dead centre of Newtownards." - nice one Dave) worked hard to get us into position for a great picture opportunity of the two ferries passing - enjoy!

My Mum was under the impression that our one hour flight was a sort of aeronautical pleasure cruise, however, it can actually count as one hour of the many hours it requires to become a pilot. About half-way through David showed Mum the ropes...err controls...and for a time 'Lisburn Granny in Kamikaze mystery' could have been a viable headline. To be fair Mum did a great job of flying and I think old Dave was impressed. Here she is at the controls:

It was such a great way to see the countryside and loads of fun - I'd defintely go again, but I'm not quite sure I'm ready to spend the £5K required to get a pilot's licence. I will admit that I'm sometimes a little nervous at 35,000 feet, but my little trip in the Cessna was nerve free - not sure if it was the view or being able to see what was happening at the controls. Perhaps it was the absence of crap food and rubbish movies, who knows? Here's one last shot to illustrate both the good times and the close confines enjoyed by passengers on a Cessna 172- look at that smile!