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Sunday, May 6, 2012

My first (amazing) flight in Ghana

Submitted by Rachelle Milam

Today was my first time in one of the planes here at Kpong Airfield. I was a bit nervous, but after watching people go up and down for about two weeks, I was reasonably sure that I would survive the experience. Captain Patricia was my pilot, and as she explained the different procedures to me, I tried to focus on what she was saying and not my pounding heart. It's much different being in a big 747 where you hardly feel like you're in the air than when you're in one of these light aircraft and there's not even a door separating you from certain death
We started down the runway, and I could hear the blood rushing in my ears, but to my credit, I stayed calm and watched the ground start to go by faster and faster. All of a sudden, I wasn't on the ground anymore, but rising in the air towards a bright, blue sky. It wasn't as bumpy as I'd expected it to be, and as we rose even higher, all I could focus on was the beautiful view. Everything is so small when you're so high up, but the beauty of the landscape takes your breath away. Pat told me to loosely hold onto the stick that allows her to steer the plane, and I felt all the minute adjustments she had to make second to second as we flew steadily on. We flew over the Volta Lake a bit, and I noticed two fisherman in a boat far below us. I wonder what they thought as we flew by.

On our way back down, I noticed the dropping feeling you get when you're going down that first big hill on a roller coaster - the one where it feels like your stomach is jumping up your throat. It wasn't extreme by any means, but it was enough that I could definitely tell we were going down. As we landed, I was more sad than I'd expected to be. I've decided that I like flying (or at least, letting someone else do the piloting while I sit back and enjoy). Pat says that maybe I can go for another flight later this week, and we'll go even farther. On my report afterwards, she remarked that she was a little surprised at how calm I'd been and it occurred to me that I'd been too fascinated to be afraid. I'd completely forgotten that I'd been nervous before.

After that experience, I have a new respect for the pilots, Capt's Yaw and Pat, and a new understanding of why the AvTech girls work so hard to be able to fly. I don't know that I'd want to be the one in control (I'm a tad clutzy when it comes to machines - I blew up my brother's PS2 when we were younger), but I can't wait to be up in the sky again with nothing between me and heaven but a few scattered clouds.

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