Ronald E. Thomas, aka Granddad, was one of the first commercial pilots in Canada. Born in 1908, he received his license in 1929 in an Avro 504 and flew through the 1930's in the Maritimes and around Camp Borden (near Barrie, Ontario). I started flying at the end of January 1997 and received my Private Pilot's License on August 8, 1997 after passing my written exam the previous day. Given the encouragement I received from Granddad during the training process, I felt that he deserved the dubious honour of First Passenger.
I booked Katana C-FYVM (Yankee Victor Mike) for a two hour time slot from 14:00 to 16:00 on Tuesday, August 12, 1997. We arrived about 15 to 20 minutes early and did the pre-flight briefing and last-minute weather check before taking off on runway 04 at Ottawa/MacDonald-Cartier International Airport (CYOW). The weather was winds from 090 (East) at 5 knots, CAVOK (no clouds to interfere with flight), temperature 21 oC, dew point 9 oC (indicating relatively dry air) with an altimeter setting of 30.19. No significant turbulence was forecast, though we did encounter a few bumps at lower altitudes and up-currents due to convection currents.
We were cleared to fly around downtown Ottawa at 2000' ASL for some sightseeing. This afforded us a most excellent view of the Parliament buildings along with the rest of Ottawa. It was even possible to see huge logs submerged just above the Chaudiere Rapids on the Ottawa River left over from the log runs such as the one that appears on the back of the one dollar bill.
While flying around downtown Ottawa, there was an interesting radio call from Ottawa Tower which went something like this:
Yankee Victor Mike, Ottawa Tower.
Ottawa Tower, YVM. Go ahead.
YVM, Ottawa Tower. Could you tell me how a Katana compares to an Avro 504?
Pause while I checked with Granddad.
Ottawa Tower, YVM. Message from my passenger. The Katana flies much more smoothly than an Avro 504.
After the flight I cornered the owner of the school and asked him if he'd been talking to Tower by any chance. He said that he'd been talking to them about something else and mentioned that there was an interesting person going up in YVM. There aren't many people riding in small planes these days who learned to fly in Avro 504's!
After three or four orbits around downtown Ottawa we headed north across the Ottawa River to the Quebec side and were cleared to decend to 1000' ASL at our descretion. We flew up the middle of the Ottawa River to Quyon, Quebec about 700' AGL. On our way upstream I handed control of the aircraft to Granddad. He had no problems flying the airplane after more than 50 years since the last time he flew! Hopefully I'll still be able to fly in 50 years!
Upon reaching Quyon we climbed to 3000' ASL and flew over the Gatineau Hills. We passed over Lac-des-Loups, Wakefield and near Meech Lake before flying eastbound about 5 nautical miles (all flying distances are in nautical miles) north of Gatineau Airport (CYND). We turned south when we reached Buckinham, Quebec and passed over the pulp plant at Mason, Quebec, across the river from Cumberland, Ontario.
At this point we descended to 2000' ASL and flew roughly southwest south of Ottawa. After contacting Ottawa Tower once again we descended to 1600' ASL and joined the right base for runway 32. About 1.5 nm from the end of the runway on final Tower cleared a passenger jet onto the runway for takeoff. It was taking it's time getting underway. So long, in fact, that Tower told it to "expedite it's departure immediately because there was a light aircraft on short final (us)". We landed on runway 32 only a little less softly than I wanted, "but we didn't bounce" as Granddad says. Landing on a runway which is larger than the runway I normally land on (200' vs 75') tends to give the illusion that you're closer to the ground than you really are. No matter, we were on the ground safe-and-sound.
We taxiied most of a mile back to Ottawa Aviation Services and parked the plane in front of the fuel pumps.
We'll be heading up again soon, I expect. Maybe next time we'll "go somewhere" -- perhaps Pembroke or maybe even Buttonville.
Total flight time: 1.5 hours
Beside each image is a brief description. If you click on
the images you'll be presented with the full-size version.
These pictures were captured using a Kodak digital camera generously loaned by Pat at The Clones Society.
Granddad in Katana C-FYVM before the flight on August 12, 1997.
Close-up of Granddad in YVM.
Granddad and myself in YVM at 1000' ASL flying northwest up the Ottawa River near Quyon, Quebec. He is in control of the aircraft at this point.
Practice area west of Ottawa near Constance Bay where I did much of my upper airwork training, as seen from 1000' ASL (~700' AGL).
Looking up the Ottawa River towards Quyon, Quebec at 1000' ASL.
Lac-des-Loups, Quebec. The red rectangle reflected in the canopy is the handle on the pilot's side used to open the canopy.
Some sort of mine near Wakefield, Quebec. South is towards the top of the image.
A slightly blurred picture taken out the passenger's window from the pilot's side of the cockpit.
Granddad in front of YVM after a successful flight ending with a landing on runway 32 -- the large north-south runway at the airport.
Close-up of Granddad in front of YVM. He doesn't look too happy, does he?