Taking to the skies 🇺🇸

Dear Readers,

Isn’t it almost mandatory when you’re a child to be fascinated by things, especially airplanes? I am pretty sure everyone as a child must have been at one point. I was one of those kids, but an obsessed one. It was not one of those typical desires to go to the airport and experience a flight. It was more of a ‘I want to be the person flying that machine’ kind. So much so I ended up obtaining an undergraduate in aerospace engineering, and here is an insight into my experience.

Many many moons ago (actually like 4 years) I went on an educational experience to the land of opportunities aka United States of America. I was still at university finishing off my engineering degree and one of my modules was pilot studies. There was a requirement in the module that I should have flown 20 hours in order to get my full credits. I had two options. One was to simply do the 20 hours in UK in a flying school or to go to US and do it. Option 1 was not feasible as it costs a lot of money to fly for an hour over in the UK. It’s the same as paying for your driving lessons but just multiply an hour of a driving lesson by 8 or more and that’s how much you would be paying for one hour of flying.

Option 2 then became a reality. Rather than doing the basic 20 hours I decided to obtain my private pilot license , PPL for short. I realised that if I was going to obtain my licence in the UK it would have cost me 3 times than what it would cost me in the US. I spoke to my parents and they supported me on this endeavour.

“Working for an hourly salary in a grocery store and they didn’t even hesitate to say no to it or to the costs of it. I may wish to have different things at times in life, but i always feel blessed to have my family. If you can relate to this then you are blessed like I am, and if you cannot you will soon enough”

So eventually summer 2013 I took off to an unknown town called Traverse City, Michigan. NMC (Northwestern Michigan College)  had a partnership with my university and I attended their flight school. I had to take 2 flights to get to Michigan with a little stop over in Chicago. Traverse city was one of the most beautiful quaint little American town I’ve ever stayed in. It is on the bay of Lake Michigan.

The first 30 hours of my lessons was with an instructor of course. I was a little bit nervous on my first lesson and they told me it was normal to be nervous and some students were even sick during their first flight (what a way to put me at comfort). The first lesson I did was an observation lesson where I sat in the back of a Cessna and monitored how flying was done. I was actually enjoying the view outside of the plane more than anything. The next day was my first lesson with my instructor and my nervousness was still there. However i kept focus on the objective and I eventually grew out of it. Everyday my schedule was simply to wake up, fly, attend theory lessons and explore.

Eventually I learnt more manoeuvres such as emergency landing, stalls, altitude correction. For example the emergency landing manoeuvre would be where my instructor would cut the engine and tell me to do an emergency landing within a few minutes. Yes its scary but more fun than anything, once you’re comfortable.  One of the most exhilarating experiences was that I was taking off and landing on a domestic airport where jetliners were landing everyday. It couldn’t get more real than that.

Solo Time

One of the important parts in the journey to become a private pilot or even an airline pilot is the first day you go solo. I was doing a routine take off and landing with my instructor and he suddenly tells me ‘You’re good to go now, land once more and I will get off the aircraft and sign you off to go solo straightaway’. I was so excited, happy and basically thought to myself ‘this is it’. Then I really took off to the skies all by myself flying over ‘Lake Michigan’ and its surrounding. From that day onwards till my final examination where I became an official private pilot the solo journey was the most exhilarating time.

In life there are some experiences and learning that stick with you forever. This is one of those experiences that will forever be in my heart and something that I will be proud of.

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Iceland 2016 🇮🇸

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written about my travels. This year during May I visited Iceland. I went on a road trip exploring the island for about 6 days. Before I left I knew it was an expensive place to go, therefore I had to prepare in advance. Any one who wants to travel to Iceland please bear the costs in mind. I will give some pointers from my experience at the end but now to the good part

A country where you feel like you’ve landed in a different planet – This sentence sums up the landscape of the island. As soon as I landed, I was like ‘wow, have I just landed in Mars in an easyJet flight’

So I got into my rented car and drove off to the first stop and it was SeljalandafossIts a popular waterfall with a lot of tourists and a lot of wedding photoshoots have been taking place at this waterfall recently. You can see a shot of the waterfall from afar below.

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Seljalandafoss

The second stop was the breathtaking black sand beach. The beach is located in the town Vik. Reynisfjara is a black pebble beach and features an amazing cliff of regular basalt columns resembling a rocky step pyramid, which is called Gardar. Out in the sea are the spectacularly shaped basalt sea stacks Reynisdrangar.

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Reynisfjara beach

The best way and only way to travel through Iceland is via car and you get to see some beautiful scenery such as this shown below

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Jökulsálón is a large glacial lake in the southeast Iceland, on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. Situated at the head of the Breidamerkurjökull glacier, it developed into a lake after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

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Second half of the trip…

For the last half of the trip, I drove up from south to east of Iceland. Along my way I came across so many waterfalls. One of the mighty ones was Godafoss (known as gods waterfall).

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Unknown & untouched waterfalls

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What I learned and what you could be aware of before travelling to Iceland.

  • Its expensive so be prepared
  • If you’re going on a road trip to the remote areas please do a big shop in a supermarket and stock up. Restaurants are pretty expensive and there are no fast food restaurants throughout the country
  • Best places to eat food are at petrol stations where they serve hotdogs
  • If you’re hiring a car don’t gamble on sandstorm insurance. You’re better off with it 
  • Stay in airbnbs. It’s a lot cheaper
  • Get yourself a fuel card in the capital. Makes life easier when you have to top up fuel