“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air… Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace Where never lark or even eagle flew –And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”

Flight

Flight

John Magee’s poem so eloquently captures the exuberance of flight and I got to experience this majesty for myself Tuesday as we flew alongside the Sea to Sky highway. This flight simply enhanced my love for British Columbia. I am not a desk merchant, being out on the road feeds my soul. First Rides is all about exploring the many wonders of Canada, mostly by supercar, but also by plane, or balloon, hiking, or really by whatever means is necessary. It continues to astound me that Canada is the second largest country in the world and has such a rich and diverse landscape, from prairies to tundra, from the arctic wastelands to the west coast rain forests. I look out the window of my downtown Vancouver apartment and every day I hear the mountains calling my name.
Last week I was fortunate enough to test a Ferrari F12 which I drove along the picturesque Sea to Sky highway, past Whistler and ultimately to my bucket list drive of Duffy Lake road. This week I was able to experience Vancouver and the Sea to Sky in a whole new way, by flying with a friend from Boundary Bay Airport in Delta up to Whistler and back, all the while following the contours of the Sea to Sky highway. (Flying has always been one of my passions. Since I was a boy I made model aircraft, though much to the horror of my brother in law without painting them! Rather I simply glued them together as fast as possible).

Ferrari F12 in front of Duffy Lake

Ferrari F12 in front of Duffy Lake

 
Tuesday I enjoyed multiple passions, I took an Aventador out for its weekly exercise. A Lamborghini is a fairly claustrophobic place so removing the carbon fiber roof panels transformed the Bull into a more spacious environment. The warm fetid weather was another reason for going topless, though a hat was a mandatory piece of equipment in order to prevent my brain from melting, 35degrees in the blazing sun. The true goal of the day was to ‘slip the surly bonds of earth’ and thanks to my friend Angelique I was able to do just that for a few hours.

Top down in a tunnel

Top down in a tunnel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boundary Bay airport is nestled away in a sleepy corner of Delta. Small airports have so much more charm over their international brethren whose behemoth status and frenetic activity often obscures the fantasy of flight. The flight office of Boundary Bay Professional flight center exudes warm camaraderie with good natured bantering. Soon it was time to step out to our plane, a Piper PA-28 Cherokee Warrior single engine 4 seater. I try to keep out of the way of my pilot’s, that is to say Angelique’s, preflight checks, though it is always fascinating to watch a pilot run through the checklist. Checks completed we headed out onto the runway. I do not recall any sensation of speed as we headed down the runway. Quietly uneventful the “warrior” rose into the sky and we had at last slipped those ‘surly bonds.’ I was overcome with a sensation of how normal this action felt, of course the turbulence a few minutes later bluntly reminded me that flying is far from normal. The next 45 minutes were a splendid journey as we flew over the downtown core of the city of Vancouver, past the West Coast Mountains, and then headed north following Howe Sound running side by side with the Sea to Sky Highway.

Piper PA-28 Cherokee Warrior

Piper PA-28 Cherokee Warrior

Warrior cockpit

Warrior cockpit

Boundary Bay airport flight line

Boundary Bay airport flight line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything was familiar, but viewed from a unique bird’s-eye perspective. The mountains, so large and intimidating from the road, seem to stretch forever onward. A particular favorite area of mine was flying over the Chief, a huge monolith in Squamish. I have hiked it many times, and recently used it as a backdrop for a Ferrari photo shoot and now I was soaring over it and temporarily diminishing the megalith in size and scale.

The Chief, Squamish

The Chief, Squamish

After heading over the winter resort of Whistler we started our journey home. I was, sadly, grateful as my stomach was attempting to betray me. I was really not keen on using my rucksack as an airsick repository. In spite of the plucky “warrior” ventilation system the cockpit was a trifle warm. Angelique was glowing while I was mostly sweating, this may have contributed toward my generally unwell feeling in the cockpit. Happily for all Angelique rather bravely and generously asked if I wanted to fly the plane for a while. Turns out concentrating on flying a plane blocks out air sickness. With some gentle corrections I flew down Howe Sound toward Horseshoe Bay at 120 mph indicated airspeed. I think I looked the part of a confident pilot, at least I hope so. No auto pilot here, this plane demands hands on flying which over time can become tiring. I tried to make small corrections while heading in the direction of Vancouver. It was a thrill to be piloting this aircraft albeit temporarily, makes one very conscious of where you are and what you are doing. Thanks for trusting me Angelique.

Jason "First Rides" pilot

Jason “First Rides” pilot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Angelique once again at the controls we circled over downtown Vancouver, where I saw where I work and where I live. The city looks so small from sixteen-hundred feet up. Ten minutes later we ceased to soar with eagles and were back on terra firma for which my stomach was profoundly grateful. It was a privilege to view my little piece of the world from above, and I would like to thank my pilot Angelique for a truly awesome experience. My drive home was a tranquil one, I did not feel in any hurry, even the early evening traffic drifted by unnoticed. I look forward to my next flying adventure, wherever it might take me and to continue exploring the vast wonders of my home, Canada.

 

The crew

The crew

Downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver

Coal Harbour Vancouver

Coal Harbour Vancouver

Angelique

Angelique