Over the last several years I have come to establish some traditions of my own: flying on New Year’s Day, 4th of July and First Flight Day i.e. Dec 17th. Be it a local flight, a scenic flight, dual flight instruction or a simulated flight in a BATD device.
Each of the days has a distinctive significance: Dec 17th marks the momentous occasion of the first powered flight by the Wright brothers. It is a day that most pilots take to the skies to celebrate and commemorate this historical moment. 4th of July is Independence Day- a day to celebrate freedom from oppression by taking to the skies. Last but not the least is New Years Day – a day of new beginnings, a day promising a fresh start, with a clean slate. What better way to celebrate than to take to the skies?
Over the last ten years, I have attempted to fly on these days whenever possible. If there are times I haven’t, they have largely been due to weather. But other circumstances can also influence this such as your flight school miraculously misfiles the one and only checkout you have of an aircraft you have been flying for the past two years and the guy manning the front desk refuses to check the aircraft out to you; and worst of all against all odds you manage to get into the cockpit and the starter fails! So yeah, I did not take to the skies as planned this year. With winds expected to gust to 30mph later that afternoon maybe it was all for the better.
The year was 2008, and it was a glorious west coast New Year’s day when I departed PAO with some of my family members for the most memorable Bay Tour. Sri, excited and thrilled to experience his first flight in a small aircraft had donned his best Indian clothes. My other nephew Rohit was also present. This was not the first time for him, but one that he probably remembers since he was too young to remember previous occasions. My sister, not a happy camper when it comes to flying in a small aircraft, was also there. This was not the first time I had made the Bay Tour, but the beauty of the surroundings never ceases to amaze me.
It was a crystal clear January day. The air was calm, and the airwaves silent as we flew past SFO, north up the 101 freeway to the downtown SFO, along the coast to the Golden Gate bridge and back past Sausalito, Alcatraz Island, Bay Bridge and back again. It was a day and year to remember!