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AOPA STAFF REFLECT ON THEIR FIRST FLIGHT REACTIONSFirst Flight Reactions

In celebration of National Aviation Day on August 19, a time to celebrate the history and development of aviation, we recently asked some of our staff to reflect on how they reacted to their first General Aviation Experience. Here are some of their reflections below:

Lukas Svrcek experiences his first general aviation flight last month.

 “When I took my first flight, I was nervous, but the moment the wheels left the ground was like magic. It was an incredible feeling to look down and see the familiar scenery from above. There was truly nothing like it.” —Melissa Whitehouse, eMedia Production Assistant

“All I have to say is, can’t wait to go up again!” — Lukas Svrcek, Front-End Developer

I had an absolute blast during my first flight in a general aviation aircraft. What a trip! This type of flying is as intimate as it gets. You feel everything, you see everything, and you get to watch everything the pilot does. There’s truly nothing like flying with a private pilot in his or her own plane. It is an experience you shouldn't pass up if you are offered the opportunity.”
— Daria Knupp, Digital Marketing Manager

“My first GA experience was a discovery flight given as a birthday present. I loved everything about it—pre-flighting and learning about the airplane, first breaking free of the ground on take-off and the feeling of freedom, how beautiful the earth looked from 3,000 feet. Immediately after that first flight, I booked my first lesson for the next day—I was hooked, still am, and likely will always be!” —Dan Justman, Sr. Account Executive, Advertising & Exhibits

“I don’t remember my first GA flight because I was born into a flying family and was in the backseat starting at two weeks old. But I do very vividly remember my first solo take-off and thinking, ‘My scrawny little flight instructor couldn’t possibly weigh that much!’ My take off roll was so short that the Cessna 150 was off the ground in a matter of feet, and I had to correct for there being no weight on the right side of the plane. Who knew!” —Carol Dodds, Vice President, Advertising & Partnerships

“It was the coolest thing ever the first time my flight instructor announced, ‘You have control of the aircraft.’ ‘I have control of the aircraft,’ I repeated back calmly and authoritatively. Inside, though, my heart was going a mile a minute. As a little girl, I had plastered my face against the window every time I flew in a commercial airplane, clamoring for a look at the beautiful clouds and the earth below that unfolded like a map. Now, here I was, in control of an aircraft. Surrounded by windows, I was 3,000 feet above the ground and could see the world below and the sky everywhere I looked. My inner little girl was jumping up and down, screaming with excitement. I was flying an airplane.” —Kristin Laing, Copywriter

My first GA flight was in a glider on June 30, 1984, at the end of my junior year in high school. It was a Schweizer 2-22, N10357, to be exact, and we were towed up to 2,000 feet over the glider strip (Lockport/Cambria Airport, an uncharted private airport) in Cambria, NY. I remember thinking that it was pretty cool how quiet it was after we disconnected from the tow plane. My CFI-G was a gentleman by the name of Jim Gronachan, and he explained the few instruments on the panel in front of me, as well as what the piece of yarn taped to the windshield in front of me meant. He had me make left and right turns, and then he took over on final for the landing. That was pretty cool, especially when he pulled the lever for the air brakes as we were rolling and sliding on the grass. It seemed like the flight lasted, forever but my logbook shows only 15 minutes. “I remember looking at the airstrip and the barns where my sister took riding lessons during that flight. It was because I was a bored teenager waiting for her to get done with her lessons that I wandered outside and saw the gliders being towed up and then coming back on their own. Turns out her riding instructor and a couple other adult students were also glider students and in the Niagara Soaring Club (which is still going today! www.niagarasoaring.com). The airport is still there, and my 2-22 is still in the club fleet. —John Collins, Manager, Aviation Programs

“My first flight was many, many, many years ago. I’m not sure how old I was—preteen, maybe? The local air park had an open house, and our scout troop went out to visit (my dad was the scout master). Local pilots were giving doing demo flights and rides. I’m not sure exactly what kind of plane it was, but I believe it was a blue-and-white four-seater. I was in one of the back seats, and my dad was in the front right seat. I don’t even remember the flight itself. All I remember is the takeoff—that engine was screaming! I thought for sure it was going to rip right out of the plane and go on without us.” —Bruce Hamilton, Insights Lead

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