HomeViews From The CottageViews From The Cottage – Flying on a wing

Views From The Cottage – Flying on a wing

Views From The Cottage – Flying on a wing

Views from the Cottage by Melanie Martyn


I am lucky enough to have a brother that likes to fly. He bought a 1947 Aeronian Chief, single engine, two-seater that had been originally built in the U.S.A. but totally overhauled in the late ‘seventies here in Canada. The plane had floats, so he would land occasionally on Orr Lake and take me up for a spin. I cannot step up a ten- foot ladder without getting dizzy, but I can hop in a tiny plane and fly around at 3500 feet with nary a qualm!

I was sad to hear he had sold the beautiful piece of history last year. With a few lessons under my belt, it was always a hope that some day I would be able to fly it over our little lake. As he still likes to keep up his hours, I count myself blessed when he calls to say he will take me up in a Cessna rental over at Lake Simcoe Regional Airport. That hour I will be available for, no matter what might have been previously scheduled.

It was quite windy (50 mph+-) but the wind direction was to our advantage (no cross winds), and we buffeted our way up through a bit of turbulence to the more tranquil air currents at 3,000 feet. I always breathe deeper, viewing the great expanse of Simcoe County and all the lakes, farmland, and forests as far as the eye can see. Increasingly, the countryside is being dotted with small subdivisions and you get a birds-eye view of the tracks and trails along the rivers and through the forests. It feels as if we are floating ever so slowly over the landscape. Time slows and memories flow…bringing me back to a memory from a trip back in 1986.

My sis-in-law (more like a sister lol) and I decided to spend Christmas in Venezuela. We flew into the airport at Margarita Island and took a small commuter flight to our destination, Cumana. A few days on the sunny beach and we felt renewed. On the second last day, I was walking the beach and contemplating the return to Canada and lots and lots of snow, when I heard a huge ‘THWACK!!.’  Looking out towards the sea horizon, I could not believe my eyes when I realized a plane had crashed onto the ocean just miles out from where I stood!

I looked around to see if anyone else was seeing this event, but it seemed I was the only witness at this end of the beachfront. I squinted hard and with the aid of my RX sunglasses, I could see two side doors pop open. About thirty seconds later, a yellow slide practically flew out each door and several dinghies that seemed to inflate out of nowhere. I could barely make out ant-size people sliding down and collecting into the floating vessels bouncing on the waves. The plane, I could not identify, but it looked to be a DC-9 size which is often used for small commuter flights I believe. Perhaps this was a failed flight from Margarita Island? I can surely say it gave me pause about our planned return the next day to that same destination.

I stood frozen, watching, and wondering what I could do. No cell phones of course and they were so far out. Within about seven or eight minutes the plane pitched slowly forward and down into the depths of the ocean with lastly just the tail seen quietly slipping under. I had come out of my semi-shock and was running towards the hotel to notify staff or whomever might be able to contact the proper authorities. I estimated at least four or five lifeboats that could hold a dozen each. I prayed that they would all have made it out of the plane which could easily carry ninety souls. There were only the sounds of the waves lapping the shore and I could only imagine the terror these poor people had suffered on the fast-descending flight path to that huge thwack landing. I was never able to find out what had caused the near fatal crash on the ocean that day, but we did find out everyone survived. Thankyou God…  Oh, and other than our final flight to Toronto being delayed (something about an airline gas credit card?), our trip back to snow-land was unimpeded.

Well, the Simcoe County tour had sadly, elapsed so we returned to the airport for a bit of a bouncy, buffeted landing onto terra firma! I so look forward to the next excursion and by then I will have a few more lessons under my belt and another story in the adventures of Mel.

Hope everyone had a great Mothers Day. I know I did!

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