I’m certain that I’m not the only one that loves hopping in a plane to far off destinations; 30,000+ feet above the earth, looking down upon the dwarfed mountains and landscape which, on land, typically towers over us. I used to think, “Wow, what a breathtaking sight!” flying 30k+ feet over the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia on the way to Vancouver… Now, I know it’s not nearly as impressive of a sight looking down on them as it is flying up close and personal along side these immense land formations. I’d go as far as saying you really can’t comprehend the sheer size of some mountains on Earth until you’re up in the skies flying at their height and staring out the window in amazement!
Big on adventure I’m always pushing my comfort zones and looking for new experiences. I had never experienced flying in a small fixed wing plane; Thomas, on the other hand, has a private pilot licence, though, he’d need to review and fly a bit to become current again. You may have noticed by now.. we’re both kind of obsessed with getting our feet off the ground to fly in helicopters, hot air balloons and even soaring across jungles on ziplines; but, I’ve always known I had take to the skies in a small plane!
I’m so glad to finally have the chance, all thanks to Guardian Aerospace!
The sun was beginning to set as we started our drive out to Prince George’s International Airport, I could barely control my excitement.
Today was day I would finally get the chance to fly in a small fixed wing airplane, a Cessna 172. Little did I know, today would be the day I learned to fly a plane as well!
We arrived at our destination; an airport hanger, near the international terminal, owned by Guardian Aerospace. We met with our pilot, began pre-flight checks on our plane (Cessna 172), went over safety protocols and reviewed need to know information.
(Top Left) Prince George International Airport. 3rd longest runway in Canada! (Top Right) The downtown core of Prince George, BC (Bottom) The mesmerizing Torpy River, it’s certainly unmistakable!
And just like that, we were up in the skies! I was amazed at how quick our small plane got into the skies; it was nothing like a huge Boeing that takes majority of the runway and very high speeds to lift off the earth.
I’d say it was a much nicer take off than in a large plane; a pleasant surprise as I can’t say I love the feeling of positive G’s (the feeling of being sucked to your seat) during takeoff’s in larger planes.
Our planned route to the Rocky Mountains would take us from Prince George, over Tabor Lake, Purden Lake, the Fraser River, Torpy River, over the McGregor Range and Plateau, and finally around Mount Sir Alexander within the Kakwa Mountain Range. On our return we could see, in the distance, Fang Mountain which resides in the Evanoff Provincial Park.
Within a short while of flying we were passing over Purden Lake (top left) and farm lands (top right). Flying over endless trees displaying their gorgeously vibrant reds and yellow alongside greens; hinting of the approaching winter.
So many hills, valleys, small mountains, lakes and rivers were constant sights below us until we reached the large mountain ranges.
We were high over the valley when the pilot says. “Hey Dawn, do you want to try flying the plane?” At that moment I’m uncertain if my heart stopped or accelerated. All I could say was, “You’re kidding, right.. ha ha (nervous chuckle).” Seconds later as I grabbed the yoke (aircraft “steering wheel”) I realized he wasn’t.
My only knowledge comes from driving a car and let me tell you now, flying a plane is NOTHING like driving a car! I admit looking at all the controls in front of me was quite intimidating and caused a lot of hesitation; though, it eases the mind knowing you’re with a professional pilot who knows what he’s doing and will keep you out of harm even if you were to do something incorrect. Within a short bit of steering the yoke, adjusting the pitch and pressing the rudder pedals I knew exactly why flying is so different than driving a car.
Mount Sir Alexander, as seen in the photos above, reaches the sky at 10,745 feet! It received its name after the great explorer, Alexander Mackenzie, who in 1793 was the first person to cross North America.
Fun fact: Mount Sir Alexander was claimed to be impossible to summit until three American’s reached the summit in 1923 during the summer season. It wasn’t until 1990 that the first three people, from Prince George!!, made it to the summit in the winter season!. (source)
In a car when you turn the steering wheel left or right you car turns the direction you spun the wheel. In a plane when you turn the yoke left or right the plane banks (leans, tips, etc) the direction you turned the yoke. When using the rudder pedals, left and right foot pedals, the plane doesn’t bank; instead, it turns almost seamlessly left or right. That’s called ‘Yaw’ by the way. The last thing I tried out was adjusting the pitch (gaining or decreasing the elevation) which you control by pulling or pushing the yoke. I didn’t mind gaining elevation but the negative G’s (sinking feeling in your stomach) I felt when decreasing elevation is something I’m certainly not a fan of, haha.
I’m certainly not a pilot by any means but from controlling parts of the plane for a few minutes I was able to understand some of the controls the plane has. It’s really an amazing experience getting up in a small aircraft; being able to pilot a plane, even for a couple minutes, really gives you a true appreciation for the technology, pilots and everything in aviation. Just the one experience and it’s taken me from wanting to just go on a sightseeing tour to the possibility of getting my private pilots licence, or more!
As soon as the mountains came into sight I couldn’t control myself, I constantly had my face shoved up against the glass oohhing and ahhing, It was so completely breathtaking I’m surprised I didn’t pass out from lack of oxygen! I can honestly say, flying in a small plane around the mountains is a ZILLION times better than looking down upon them in a large plane.
Our pilot was definitely in control and knew what he was doing; he got us so close to the mountains within Kakwa Provincial Park, I didn’t think it was possible! There’s truly nothing like flying in and around mountains, some below, some towering above yet, all as stunning as can be.
We looped around Mount Sir Alexander in the Kakwa Provincial Park on the border of British Columbia and Alberta, we were officially on our way home. The sun had dropped lower in the sky offering the gorgeous golden hues cast across the mountain ranges and deeper shadows. If you’re into photography sunset certainly is an absolute perfect time to take to the skies in a small plane for some gorgeous photos!
We spoke with the pilots at Guardian Aerospace and they highly recommended late afternoon/early evening for photo opportunities. Another reason is that the day is starting to cool off and it can significantly decrease air turbulence which is typically felt a bit more in small aircraft. Other than very mild turbulence it was a smooth flight; I’d recommend an evening flight to anyone who can become overwhelmed by motion sickness. I didn’t feel any sense of sickness while up in the skies, though I don’t typically whenever we travel. Thomas typically battles with motion sickness whenever we travel in any form of transportation, he didn’t have any moments of feeling under the weather during the flight as well!
Our pilot was super knowledgeable and more than willing to answer all of our questions; no matter how silly… “Uhhhhh, can you fly these planes at night?” (said as the sun just went down). He explained the difficulties that come with night flying; though, yes, it is possible! Obviously you don’t want to be in a small plane flying through the mountains at night though! He explained what all the instruments in front of me did and what purpose they served; it all didn’t seem nearly as intimidating after that.. who knew!
We were just miles away from Prince George when he says, “Hey, you want to help land the plane?” …
With slight hesitation, not nearly as much as the first go, I took hold of the yoke and steered us along as we decreased in altitude for our final approach.
With a little help, I’m sure it was actually a lot!, from the pilot we landed perfectly on the runway and quickly decelerated to taxing speed as we left the runway. With the adrenaline still pumping from steering the plane while landing it helped mask the sadness I felt about being back on the ground.
Even though this was my first experience flying in a small aircraft, I’ve never been more sure that it will NOT be my last!
How can YOU see the Rocky Mountains from a small plane? Check out Guardian Aerospace!
Guardian Aerospace is a flight school located in Central British Columbia; Prince George and Vanderhoof, to be exact. They’re the only flight school in the Central Interior and have been teaching people to fly the skies since 2002!
Interesting in more than just a sightseeing flight? Want to be the pilot instead of just the co-pilot?
They’re certified by Transport Canada to teach a wide range of pilot training. From a Recreational Pilot Permit to a Private Pilot License; or, take it one more step and get your Commercial Pilot License! All these options are available through Guardian Aerospace.
Are you a student from outside of Canada? No problem! Guardian Aerospace is in the know when it comes to getting a study permit in Canada.
What puts them on the map are the 4 seasons they enjoy flight training; from +30C to -30C they’re up in the skies. Their instructors are also air charter pilots who often operate in remote regions as well as commercial center; making their company a versatile place to learn to fly with instructors that have real life experiences.
I had a truly amazing experience with Guardian Aerospace; I can honestly say I’ve received the best service experience from them, in comparison to all other flight activities I’ve experienced.
Interested in learning what it takes to become a pilot? Check out their introductory flight (30 minute flight with the chance to experience flying yourself!) or attend their ground school classes, which are offered three times a year.
One last thing:
When should you book your flight?
Typically it’s best to book your flight around a week in advance, the sooner the better, to ensure there’s availability.
Can the weather cause your flight to be rescheduled?
Absolutely! Actually, the first time I scheduled this trip we had to reschedule due to storms in and around the mountains. Was I upset? Honestly, no. If the pilot says it should be rescheduled due to weather I certainly am going to take his word for it!
What’s the best time of day to fly?
We flew during the late afternoon, early evening (5pm take-off) and the turbulence was almost non-existent. If you’re prone to motion sickness it may be best to fly during that time; though, it certainly doesn’t guarantee there won’t be turbulence. The evening also offers a gorgeous setting for pictures (as you may have been able to tell from all the photos above).
How do I contact Guardian Aerospace?
Guardian Aerospace is located in Prince George at the Prince George International Airport on Aviator Road, Gate 31; with their main office being located in Vanderhoof. You can reach them to schedule your flight to the Rocky Mountains by calling: 1 866 567 9889. Or emailing through their contact page: http://www.guardianaerospace.net/contact-us.html
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Many thanks to Guardian Aerospace for a truly amazing experience in the skies and around the beautiful Rocky Mountains in British Columbia. Our opinions were in no way influenced by the amazing sights of the mountains, professional and friendly service and/or getting the chance fly the plane. All opinions are honest, true and of the sole writer, Dawn Kealing.
Come join me on this epic Adventure!
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