When it comes to flying, the “place” is very big: a whole part of the country over which you are flying, but it is also very small: the cockpit of the small general aviation aircraft, where two grown ups fill the entire space not leaving much room for the movements you have to make in order to… to fly the airplane! The people are the unknown heroes who make the flying club work well: the old man who opens the hangar in the morning and takes the airplane out. The mechanics who take care of the maintainence of this aircraft, they are responsible for making an old machine from the late 1940’s still work 6 to 8 hours a day virtually everyday the meteorology allows it to fly. Many pilots still flying in South America countries learned the basics and accumulated their first hundreds of hours of experience flying this beauty: the Paulistinha. (pronounce it somehow like “Pauleesteen – ah”). The story is the mission I had for the day: to fly this airplane to São Carlos, another city nearly 75 nm from Campinas city. Not too much far away, but still it was an interesting flight, since it would be almost entirely inside the airspace of the Pirassununga Air Force Academy, therefore demanding a special work of communication to make sure everything was alright.
Looking around before the flight, I can’t help but to feel inspired by all the airplanes surrounding the place. I really love to admire the aircrafts, be it for their design, their technical misteries, the aerodynamics of their controls, be it in their poetic secrets. Where else have these aircrafts flown over? How many times were they responsible for the “first flight” experience of someone? Who are the pilots flying these aircrafts today, and how is it that flying change their lives? How many childs were inspired by these wings and by the sound of these engines, and are now flying the skies in commercial airliners? When you are in such a good mood as I was, it is really not a problem that it’s impossible to objectively answer those questions: imagination is still free to appreciate an unlimited universe of opportunities, and I feel peaceful.
This time I was not alone. The day was sunny and there was practically no cloud anywhere in the skies. There was another aircraft flying with us and I was with the stupid-zooming lens of my Nikon D5100 camera (not a professional one but surely one that can scare you out!). I even asked the student in the other aircraft to smile for the picture!
When you are a student pilot flying to a place you’ve never been before, usually one of your main difficulties is finding the destination runway. This, of course, assuming you are making a visual flight (no GPS allowes for the student!). That was my sistuation, having the compass, the airspeed indicator, my chronometer and a paper map as my only navigation resources. It was not difficult, though, to spot the São Carlos runway. The reason: usually they expect visitors quite bigger than my dear Paulistinha. There works the facility for the maintainence of the Airbus aircraft of TAM airlines, one of the major airlines in Brazil, which operates around 130 200-seaters Airbus aircrafts. So the runway was quite long for the Paulistinha and quite easy to see from above.
On my way back, near Piracicaba city, I spoted the ruins of this industry. I really don’t know what it once was but I thought the image quite interesting.
It was a hot day in the sunny Brazil, and the cruise speed of the Paulistinha is around 80 knots, so there’s no problem if you put your head outside to a great picture or just to refresh yourself a little bit. But, please, do not try this on your next Boeing flight!
Happy I was. 🙂