I went flying yesterday!

17 August, 2014            I went flying yesterday!

My friend Pat’s son Daniel is a flight instructor at a nearby airport. He is joining the Marine Corps very soon and invited us to go flying. When I saw this picture on his fb page I thought it was a cool plane – but there was no way the three of us would fit:

For just a minute I thought we were going to fly in this

For just a minute I thought we were going to fly in this

Imagine my relief when he pulled this out of the hangar:

Cessna 172 - our chariot awaits

Cessna 172 – our chariot awaits

For the uninitiated, that is a Cessna 172, the best-selling airplane of all time. If you hear or see a single engine propeller plane, chances are it’s a 172. If it is, like this a “high wing” airplane with “tricycle” landing gear, you can almost be certain.


Daniel went to college in Williamsburg and learned to fly nearby. We took off from Williamsburg Jamestown Airport (JGG). We flew to Tangier Island Airport (TGI). Many airports have a three letter airport code; Richmond airport’s is RIC, Dulles is IAD, O’Hare is ORD, Los Angeles is LAX, and so on.


I’ve flown very little general aviation, just a few times with my brother Shane, who is also a pilot. And that was before I really began taking pictures so I didn’t get a great deal of practice. I brought my camera along on our flight yesterday and managed to get a few decent pictures. They don’t do the experience justice, though – being up there is so much fun you just want to do it all the time. And I hated to stop paying attention to the flying and start paying attention to the pictures but you can do both. Sort of.


To set the stage for our flight I have to include a picture I took earlier that day here in Richmond. We weren’t flying until the afternoon and that gave me an opportunity to get Mackey and Turner to the river in the morning. Since I would be gone all afternoon (and Evie was out of town) I wanted Mackey and Turner nice and worn out before I left. Fortunately Lee and Kara and their family fed dinner to my boys. This is a picture I took at Pony Pasture yesterday morning; talk about a beautiful day for flying:

It doesn't get much more beautiful than this

It doesn’t get much more beautiful than this

 Interestingly (to me) – I just realized that was the James River in Richmond in the morning. In mid-afternoon, Pat and Daniel and I were in the plane climbing over the James River sixty (more or less) miles downstream:

My second view of the James River today:

My second look at the James River today:

 I’d like to tell you (I’d like to know myself) a lot more about that picture. Like how high we were, precisely where we were, how long we’d been in the air, etc. I just love knowing that sort of thing. But I was paying attention to a lot of stuff at once. It was so much fun. I do know I took that picture at 3:18 PM yesterday.


Pat and Daniel were very gracious about allowing me such a great seat. First they allowed me to sit in front, which was a blast. And Daniel allowed me to sit on the left side, which is normally the pilot’s seat. But since he’s an instructor he spends a lot of hours in the right seat and said that’s what he’s used to. In the left seat you get to see all the instruments:

You can look at those instruments and tell a lot. I took this picture at 3:20 PM yesterday.

You can look at those instruments and tell a lot. I took this picture at 3:20 PM yesterday.

 If you’ll look on the tail of the plane in the picture near the top you’ll see the “tail number” – similar to the license plate of a car. You can see the same number there on the plane’s dash in the upper right hand corner. Every plane has one and if you google it, google will recognize what it is and tell you about the plane. Enough of that!


The picture looking down at the river is looking out of the left window. This picture is facing straight forward from the seat I was in. Notice the little blur where the propeller was passing through. That shutter stayed open for 1/800th of a second. The prop has two blades and the engine was turning around 2,300 rpm. You may not be able to see that blade very well but you can sure see my inner nerd!

Looking ahead. Magnetic compass on the right.

Looking ahead. Magnetic compass on the right.

Here’s another picture I took looking down, five or ten minutes after we took off. See the sandbars on the bottom? And the landing gear? I just get fascinated by all this stuff. Every bit of it:

This is just WAY too much fun:

This is just WAY too much fun:

It was only a few minutes before the runway (and the rest of the island) at Tangier came into view:

Tangier Island in view; runway is on the left

Tangier Island in view; runway is on the left 

I feel bad – there was so much stuff to see and do and take in, I’m just unable to do it all justice. It’s a good thing I’m not a food critic. I am moderately articulate but there are simply no words to describe how excellent the crab cakes were at lunch. We ate at the Fisherman’s Corner Restaurant and I wish I’d gotten ten to go.


I just can’t work it all in. So, random shots while we were walking around. Boat:

I'll bet there are crabs on board. Or other shellfish.

I’ll bet there are crabs on board. Or other shellfish. 

I’ll bet this cat eats way more fresh seafood than most cats:

Notice the conspicuous lack of anxiety

Notice the conspicuous lack of anxiety

They were having the 50th Homecoming for the Tangier Volunteer Fire Department. Some of their equipment was parked on the side of the runway:

Nice looking Volunteer Fire Department, founded 1964

Nice looking Volunteer Fire Department, founded 1964 

I took a hundred and twenty pictures  yesterday. I had a high success rate considering it was a new experience for me – I probably got at least thirty good ones. But a blog post only holds so much. All good things have to come to an end. I don’t know if that expression is appropriate for this blog post – it definitely has an end; whether it’s a good thing or not is another matter. The trip, however, most emphatically was a good thing – it was amazing. Many thanks to Daniel and Pat and everybody else I crossed paths with yesterday! Until next week, here’s a picture as Daniel’s lining up on the runway at JGG:

Landing back at Williamsburg:

Landing back at Williamsburg:

Have a great week,



PS I suspect there may be a high rate of error in this post. Everything was new to me, that’s one reason. I didn’t check any of the facts with Daniel, that’s another. My favorite editor Evelyn is out of town, that’s the main reason. So it’s all on me! Never fear, Evelyn will make sure it’s all okay next week.


PPS I owe a few responses to comments – I apologize for dragging my feet – I’ll respond w/in ~24 hours. I respond to every comment. I LOVE it when people comment on my blog.


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Fun, People, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to I went flying yesterday!

  1. Megan says:

    Nice job describing what turned out to be an excellent day. So glad you and Pat got to go on this trip with Daniel! Would love to see your other photos too some time! Pat forwarded your blog post to Daniel too!

  2. Thanks Megan! I am REALLY happy we got to fly with Daniel – and it was a really fun destination too. I’m glad Pat sent it to Daniel – I already sent him a copy! I’ll find a few more decent photos and show them to you. Of course there are like 5 each of the plane, each runway, the cat, etc., but there are several winners I had to leave out. Thanks for the note and have a great day,


  3. Clare T says:

    isn’t it wonderful when in our life’s journeys, we can take flight and enjoy what stands before us, all its beauty and amazement – and sharing it with others – yes, you went flying yesterday 🙂

    • Hi Clare! And thanks for the comment! It was GREAT to have the opportunity to go flying and great to have the opportunity to share it. I hope I get to do it again soon! Thanks again for the comment and have a great day,


  4. Clare T says:

    p.s. i think you have a birthday coming up – perhaps next week – happy EARLY birthday!

  5. Thank you again – I DO have a birthday coming up, at the end of this week. And I LOVE birthdays! I’ll be fifty-three on Saturday and the fun hasn’t worn off yet. Maybe when I turn fifty-four in 2015. Thanks! Have a great day,


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