I’ve always had a passion for flying ever since I saw Maverick buzzed the tower in Top Gun. It still amazes me that massive machines can soar through the air at the speed of sound, with such grace and ease; even though it’s what I do for a living. But we take flying in airplanes for granted, just a another form of transportation that can get me on vacation or to a meeting faster than if I drove there. I was excited to regain my appreciation for flight back in 2014 when I went up in a coworkers plane, and this was my experience.
So I knew my coworker, Tim, had his own plane from the stunning pictures he kept on his desktop background, even though he never really talked about it. Then one day he asked if I ever wanted to go up one day. Before he could even finish his question, I was already saying “Yes!”
The day he asked me to join him, I met him at the local airport. I couldn’t contain my excitement as I witnessed planes taking off one after another. At the end of the small airport road, I reached the gate where Tim was already pulling it back so I could park near the hangar he keeps the plane in. His plane was a thing of beauty. Completely chrome from the prop to the tail. A clear canopy that would lead to incredible views, no doubt.
I stood around, asking question after question, as Tim perform the pre-flight checks. We hopped into the cockpit, threw the noise canceling headphones on, and Tim fired up the engine, casing the propeller to go from a slow spin to a complete blur in front of the plane. We pushed back and made our way to the tarmac. Tim spooled the engine up to a loud roar, checked with the tower that we were clear for takeoff, and before I knew it, I was pinned to the back of my seat as we were climbing further and further into the Connecticut sky.
Right away, I was astonished by the views as we reached altitude and soared over the downtown of Hartford, seeing the city in a completely different view. We banked to the left and started heading south towards the Long Island sound. As the farm fields and highways passed below us, Tim explained the rules of the air to me and how most pilots follow the highways below as a way to track themselves in the air. He also talked about how, depending on the plane’s directional heading, there are specific altitudes the planes must fly between to reduce any potential accidents.
In the distance, we could see the outline of massive buildings that stuck out in the sky. All the way from central Connecticut, over 100 miles away, you could see the skyline of Manhattan. Which was just one of the many incredible views, which included the coast of CT & RI, Bear Mountain, NYC, and even Long Island. Once we reached the shoreline and started flying around the Old Saybrook part of the coast. The marshlands became so defined, contrasting with the deep blues of the sound.
My favorite part didn’t happen until we started our return, when Tim’s voice came over the radio asking, “Want to fly for a bit?” In complete shock, I responded with a yes, and quickly grabbed the yoke and pressed my feet on the rudders. I only flew for a few minutes, but those moments will stick with me for the rest of my life. I made a few turns. One right hander got a little too intense as I banked right and pulled back on the stick, making a hard 90 degree turn. Tim politely asked to take control back. I was all smiles, from ear to ear, after that.
We landed in Meridan to refuel, which surprisingly enough, was as simple as filling up your car. Tim topped off the plane, went through the same preflight checks, and then we were taking off again for a quick hop over a small mountain before touching down at Hartford-Brainard again.
I’ll never forget that day, and the experience I gained from it.
Adventure Doesn’t Find You
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.