What a birthday gift!!! My lovely wife decided it was time for me to experience my first flying lesson and found a great place in Belgium, right in the heart of the Vlaamse Ardennen, around the corner of the legendary Oude Kwaremont.
We left home in time and the weather could not be better. When we arrived in the area the sun was out and with around 25 degrees temperature it was perfect weather to fly.
But first a stop at the Oude Kwaremont, a majestic place.
After that we went to Amougies airport, a grass strip primarily used by ultralight aircraft and with all the charm that comes with it. We met up with the instructor, who luckily spoke fluent Vlaams (being at the language border in Belgium an important thing to mention). We walked to the aircraft, a Rans S-6ES Coyote II, which looked like the real deal even though it is classified as an ULM and I got briefed on the basics of flight and flight control. After a while we strapped in and took off! Once we were clear of the traffic pattern and in a level flight the instructor told me to take over and pointed at a distant church tower, telling me to keep the horizon straight, the tower right in front of us: we were heading for Kortrijk. At a certain point in time I had a quick glance at the instructor and noticed he had his hands off the stick and even his feet off the pedals: I was doing this all by myself!!! When we were close to Kortrijk I was told to make a left hand turn and that went pretty smooth too. We went back to the airfield to fly a few patterns in the circuit. The first touch & go the instructor had the controls and I kept my hands on the stick to get a feeling for what he was doing, the moment we accelerated again, the instructor told me I had the controls, that I should turn back and repeat the pattern we just flew. Following his indications on when to turn I did as I was told and flew the second pattern almost by myself. Now it was time to land and since the instructor did not tell me to stop I kept my hands and feet on the controls. Again he indicated when to turn and when we came to a full stop congratulated me on my first landing, indicating he didn't do anything! A bit flabbergasted I asked him to repeat that in front of Marisa, so that the next morning I would not think it was all a dream, lol.
After the flight it was time to return home. But we first we did some beer and chocolate shopping and even drove the Kluisberg on our way to Ronse. With a bag of Belgium goodies and Studio Brussel on the radio we returned home, what an awesome day!