|-Gabriel (right) and his father (left) at the controls of the Cessna Skyhawk II|
We began heading Northeast to photograph Kings Island. Using I-71 North as a navigational guide, we passed over the miles of suburban homes of Blue Ash, Mason, Sycamore and other East Side communities.
After a few short minutes the park's 1/3 scale replica Eifel Tower appeared on the horizon. Circling above we began to photograph and film the park for the KICentral update.
In June Kings Island announced that it would debut it's newest coaster, Diamondback, for the 2009 season. The roller coaster will be the tallest (230 ft.) and fastest (8 m.p.h.) at the park and at $22 million is one of the biggest investments in the park's history.
After a few laps around the park we headed out towards Batavia, Ohio. This is about the first time I started to get sick. Now, in a large commuter plane I seem to have no problem, but when I join these guys in their smaller planes and we get tossed about in the wind, take sharp angled turns and they perform a few stunts......I start to get sick. It's totally worth it though. Flying is an amazing feeling and to see things from up there is quite an amazing experience, so is the feeling of weightlessness as Gabe and his dad flew the plane upwards in a sharp climb then downwards in a fast dive, as they do this you start to float....and eventually your stomach catches up to you. In Batavia is Clermont Steel Fabrications, the factory where they are manufacturing the track for Diamondback. As we passed over a few more segments of track could be seen laying around the property, waiting to be shipped to Kings Island. Photographs of the plant and more construction photos can be seen at www.kicentral.com.
We decided to take a break for lunch and land at Clermont County Regional Airport, where on Saturday's pilots and their guests are treated to free hot dogs.
Once we were on the ground at Clermont my stomach began to feel better, it felt good enough to eat hot dogs, even if it didn't they were FREE hot dogs. So we each had 3 (they were FREE). We still had to fly over Cincinnati, so maybe eating the hot dogs wasn't the best idea since I usually get sick in the plane, however, I had never thrown up during one of these flights, but the hot dogs were free! How could you pass that up?
We took off from Clermont, heading to the West towards downtown and Lunken Airport. Lunken and downtown are considered Class D airspace. Class D airspace is defined as:
Pilots are required to establish and maintain two-way radio communications with the ATC facility providing air traffic control services prior to entering the airspace. No separation services will be provided to pilots of VFR (Visual Flight Rules) aircraft. Pilots operating under VFR must still use "see-and-avoid" for aircraft separation. Airports without operating control towers are uncontrolled airfields. Here pilots are responsible for their own separation and takeoff and landings. From: http://www.allstar.fiu.edu/aero/airspace.htm
Basically what that means is any aircraft entering the airspace is required to stay in constant contact with the local tower, state their intentions and heading, and get approval from the tower before entering the airspace. This is due to the high amounts of air traffic and security rules surrounding aircraft and major urban areas since 9/11/01 (For example: had their been a Red's or Bengals game going on we would not have been permitted to fly over downtown). Lucky for us no major events were taking place. We requested to fly along the river make one loop around the city and then head North back to Blue Ash, our request was granted and we headed towards downtown, approaching from the West.
In case you have never seen the Ohio River, it doesn't run in a straight line. So when our aircraft followed it's course we were doing a lot of turning and swaying, my stomach began to bother me and I tried to remember exactly why I ate those hot dogs (did I mention they were free?).
Realizing we only had once chance to loop around the city I grabbed a plastic bag (just in case) and my camera's, only one chance to get the pictures.
My stomach settled just long enough for me to enjoy the spectacular view and to take photographs. I alternated between my Canon and Olympus DSLR cameras to use various focal lengths and the sun poked out just long enough for us to see the incredible view.
We completed our loop around downtown and headed North back towards Blue Ash, where we took off. My stomach settled as I grabbed some more photographs as the sun peeked through the clouds for just a few seconds at a time. My stomach settled and I began reviewing the photographs on the LCD screens. Despite my stomach, the photographs and experience are completely worth it. Flying is one of the greatest experiences known to man and I am very grateful Gabriel and his father were kind enough to invite Bill and I along.
The above view is a far better site than miles of dark cornfields that I passed on the way back to Athens tonight. Just two more weeks and I get to come home for awhile. It will be a welcome break from what have been a stressful, agrravating, depressing, yet sometimes enjoyable and rewarding past ten weeks.
Until next time, thanks for reading!