Yesterday I got to take my wonderful boyfriend on our first flight together. Background: We’ve been dating over two years and he’s always been an airline pilot. I’ve been DYING for the day he’d take me up in a small plane (all the other pilot girlfriend’s I know have a picture of them both in a headset in a small plane, it’s cute) and because of a variety of things it never happened. He did go up in the back of a 172 once on my second lesson, and I took one of his flights home for Christmas our first year. That’s the extent of our flying together. Therefore, I couldn’t wait for tomorrow.
We headed out to the airport. This was the second time I had to walk to the plane. He commented on how lucky I was my CFI picked me up, otherwise I might have given up walking 2 miles every time, each way. I pre-flight the plane and we set off around 2:30pm. (We had simulated the night exactly the night before to see what time we had to be off since we would hit sunset.)
We were doing the NYC VFR Corridor. You get to fly around 1000ft around the island of New York. It’s pretty epic. There is a section of the NY Bravo by the shore that drops down to 500ft, so he taught me how to do a DME arc and we went further out to sea to avoid flying at 400ft. I pretty much rocked it, I told him I’d ace instrument training if it was all like that. The reason the Bravo jumps down that low there is it is the final for JFK. On the GPS it was pretty cool to see tons of planes all coming in. A little scary having a 747 about 1000ft above and descending.
At the end of the arc we head straight for Coney Island. It’s the only part that Jake hasn’t done before. It’s fun seeing all the rides. I’ll get a better view on the way back.
We go to the Verrazano Bridge now. I’m getting a bit nervous because we’re at 900ft. The bridge is 700ft tall. We have to stay to the right on the bridge where the tallest part is, but you obviously don’t go over it just a bit to the left. A thrilling experience to go over something that high, but that close. And it’s completely legal!
Next up, we were trying to do the East River Exclusion, which the rules changed and you need to talk to LGA Tower and get clearance up into the Bravo airspace. The controller was super busy so she wasn’t responding. We avoid going to the right of Governor’s Island and head up the Hudson. You self announce on the Hudson River Exclusion. Jake was in charge of the radios during this part, so he did all the announcing. A helicopter passed about 200ft under us as we entered the Hudson!
Heading northbound on the Hudson, you stay near the east bank (always to the right). Lots of helicopters going southbound and passing us around our level. If you’re not maneuvering you stay at 1000ft but if you are you drop down to 900ft or below, that’s also where the helicopters are.
Jake was getting the view of NYC better than I was at this point. We pasted the George Washington Bridge and went a few miles past it, dropped down to 900ft and did a 180 degree steep turn to go back down the other way. Whooo uses of flight training maneuvers!
Now, I got the pretty views! We also had a King Air pass above us going to Teterboro. After we had passed the GW Bridge again, Jake turned and told me “This is where Sully was,” of course, I knew exactly what he was talking about and avgeek’d out. If you don’t, he’s the captain that landed US Airways Flight 1549 successfully in the Hudson. We passed the Freedom Tower, which is 1,792ft tall! It was much taller than we were flying and so I had to look up to see the top of it.
Here’s the fun part. I got to circle the Statue of Liberty! Best point ever to turn around. This time we weren’t worried about making a perfect circle, it was avoiding the airspace at the back of the statue. We had a VOR tuned in that if it was aligned I was in the other airspace. I did two turns around her, and Jake had to talk to another helicopter while doing it because he was waiting to circle her too.
We tried one more time to go up the East River, it wasn’t happening so headed back across the Verazzano Bridge and past Coney Island and I had to do the DME arc again. Along the coast of Long Island, Jake wanted to do a zero gravity maneuver, where you climb and push over hard and become weightless. I was nervous about it, but we did it a few times. He made me do it as well. One time, I had a pen in my hand and he got it to float. Sadly, the GoPro was on the wrong setting and it was all dark.
I grab the ATIS and get ready to land back at FRG. We request touch and go’s so Jake can land a few times, but I called first landing. It was a greaser landing! One of my best. Jake applauded me on the upwind. He was super impressed. Later on in the night he said the downside is I can only get worse from that. I told him no, I could get better by making every landing like that.
Another 152 entered the downwind from the north as we turned crosswind. We had no idea what this girl was doing, her patterns were huge and her altitude was all over the place. Jake thought he was going to crash she was so low on her final (okay, but he thought I was too low on landing because he’s used to being up much higher when crossing the threshold) His first landing is….not great. He’s right of the center line (oh yeah, I was dead on that line) and he flared too high because he’s used to the ERJ.
Only one more because the sun is setting, we don’t want to deal with this other person in the pattern, and he said either it’s one bad landing and he gets better or it’ll take a bit longer. I forgot to request full stop until final, oops! But the controller was fine with it. This time I was a bit scared on his landing. He wasn’t straight on the runway. He needed more left rudder. Again he was flaring a bit high, it was a firm landing. I took the controls to taxi back to the FBO. Oh well, I told him he can make it up by next time I fly on his plane he has an awesome landing. I haven’t flown with him on the ERJ only the Dash-8. So maybe he can prove he’s a good pilot to me soon :-P
The only downside is we had to run part of the way to catch the train on the way back. But overall, it was fun and I’m glad this was my first adventure as a Private Pilot!