Piloting – Oshawa, Niagara and Toronto

A couple of months ago, at the behest of my father, myself and fellow Gymineer Paul put together a Gymineer Day auction item at a fundraiser for “Liam’s Fight for Sight” – an effort to get a young baby from the Durham Region a new form of eye surgery only available in the States.

Two sister’s won that auction, and as part of the deal they took a trip up in the skies with myself and Pilot Ed Johnstone, who had kindly donated his services. Ed owns a small six-seater plane from the 70’s, kept in pristine condition with the original purple suede upholstery. I now feel like something is missing whenever I travel in a vehicle without it.

The first time I had flown with Ed I sat up front, and after he guided us around Niagara Falls for a few spins, he let me take over the controls as he radioed some info into Toronto’s air traffic controllers. I focused on keeping us as level as possible, though I inevitably took us up another 300 feet. I was able to keep us level based on seeing the horizon, but there was little to visually guide me to keep our nose flying flat.

This time around, with the girls on board, we let Sidney, the younger of the sisters, sit up front, which meant she had the controls coming back over the lake. As Ed let her steer, he instructed her that she could also use the foot pedals to shift the plane from left-to-right and back, and then demonstrated it by slamming on each of the pedals, whipping the plane out to the right, then sliding us back to the left as we hung a few thousand feet over Lake Ontario.

Sidney was not to be outdone, as she tilted us left and dropped us down 100 feet, her sister and I looked at each other and wondered how long Ed would be on the radio for. In the meantime, it was a roller coaster without rails.

We eventually made it to Toronto, where Ed took us down for a faux-landing at the Island Airport, thus letting us experience a view of the Toronto Skyline that not many get to see as we peeled up and rose over the skyscrapers.

Then came the bittersweet portion of the flight, the ending, but I enjoyed it so much because we travelled from the heart of Toronto to the Oshawa Airport in about 8 or 9 minutes. I looked down at the cars stuck on the DVP at 9pm and knew that someday soon I’d be joining them and looking up at the skies thinking about how sweet it all once was.