You may have noticed I have a new picture in my header bar! 🙂 About 2 weeks ago, my honey and I went on a week-long trip to Ottawa! It was officially for the BSD Canada conference, but it was really just an excuse to go to Ottawa, visit his aunt and uncle, make a side trip to Sudbury, visit friends and play tourist. As part of our playing tourist, we went to the National Aviation Museum. It was great, but the best part of all happened outside the museum.
Darren had researched the museum a bit and saw on the webpage that we could go on a biplane ride! So, as soon as we got there we talked to the pilot and arranged for a ride! One small waiver later, which he claimed was for the museum and not for him, and started getting ready for the ride. Oh, yeah, there was a significant mastercard transaction, too, which was totally worth it!
What an awesome time we had! It was a 1939 Waco (pronounced wah-coh) open-cockpit biplane. One of the first things Darren asked was if we could go upside down, to which the pilot replied that the plane was fully aerobatic, but going upside down is illegal with passengers! So, our pilot promised to do some tight/steep turns, if we were up for it! We devised an elaborate method of voice-free, wireless communication to indicate turn readiness (thumbs-up) before proceeding! We put on canvas “skull caps,” sunglasses and climbed in. We were seated side by side in the front opening of the plane with the pilot behind. Once we were all belted in, he got ready and off we went. There is a small runway right outside the aviation museum – in fact, many of the planes in the museum flew there and were then pushed inside – and an active flying club. We taxied for take-off, the pilot in contact with Ottawa ATC, and away we went! I’m not sure how the pilot navigates, ’cause he really can’t see very well from his position in the back. We went towards the Gatineau hills first, then flew over downtown Ottawa and Parliament Hill. I took MANY pictures, one of which, vastly cropped, became this header. He did a few nice steep turns – we probably experienced 2.5 to 3 g’s (and I have some experience estimating that actually)! If I stuck my head out too far, the wind would hit me in the head at it was like being on a very fast motorbike without a solid helmet on! My ears popped no less than 6 times, but that’s okay, ’cause my ears pop easily!
On the whole, it was a great experience! I highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in Ottawa on a nice, sunny day with a little time to spare! Much less dangerous than parachuting (or whitewater rafting, which I hear is pretty wild), but with lots of excitement and wonderful views!