After the fun on Pender Island, we headed up to Nanaimo where I was going to give my first ride to anyone other than my trusting wife Catherine. This young guy is my pastor’s son and as he lives up in Parksville with his wife, we agreed to meet in Nanaimo where I would take him up for his first flight in a small aiplane.
Landing in Nanaimo was straight forward, Catherine did her duck out of the way thing and I wheel landed on RWY 34. We taxied to the Nanaimo Flying Club’s transient parking spot, and waiting for him to arrive. They showed up not long after, his wife came along to visit too. After a chat, and pulling out a map, we decided on a plan that would take us northward over their house and community, then bring us back to the Nanaimo airport.
I did a pre-flight, got him situated in the front cockpit, and explained what not to touch, and how Catherine slid out of the way for takeoff and landing. I turned on the GoPro so he’d have a record of the flight, and hopped in. We fired up, called Nanaimo FSS and taxied to the run-up area of RWY 34 for a run-up. I was explaining things to my passenger all the while, I hope I wasn’t boring him…
Taking off on runway 34 basically had us already pointed at his house, so it was climb straight out, level off and watch the scenery go by… As we neared his neighbourhood, I was trying to have him show me their house, and after a few tries (putting your hand outside the windscreen in an open cockpit plane isn’t always easy) I found it. I did a couple of lazy circles around their place so he could get some photos, then he wanted to check out an area to the West a bit before heading back to Nanaimo.
The return to Nanaimo was nice and smooth, and the only other traffic we heard the FSS talking to was an Aeronca Champ a few miles ahead of us. There was a small fire to the West of the Nanaimo airport that we could see form the air (column of smoke) and he FSS assured the champ and us that the fire department was aware of the issue etc. We crossed midfield, and joined downwind right for runway 34. The champ elected to land on the grass instead of the runway, which is something I will consider in the future as it’s preferred in a taildragger like ours. I landed a tad hot and skipped the wheel landing a bit, but I felt it was pretty good.
The champ had just parked ahead of us at the Nanaimo Flying Club’s fuel station, so we parked off to the side and the hangar talk commenced immediately 🙂
My passenger had a blast I believe, we chatted for a while before they left and then bid them all adieu. The sun was setting soon, and as we’re only day VFR, decided it was time to head home. One last time, we said farewell to Nanimo FSS as we lined up with runway 16 (winds were calm now). Climbing out over Ladysmith harbour is always pleasant, and by the top of a gentle climb, we’re already lined up with “the gap”. We cleared the way through the training area, made our call over Somenos lake, and crossed midfield. Again the winds here at home were also calm, so I elected to land on runway 31 (no back tracking). I came in a bit high, but in the cool evening air, the plane settled in without difficulty and we taxied back to the hangar for the night.
The next day I found how close we had come to disaster…