Flying Like a Bird

This is my most memorable small plane: Diamond DA20. A few years ago, Irene gave me a fantastic birthday present: an opportunity to pilot a small trainer plane (this one) and fly over Cleveland. Prior to that, I only piloted an imaginary fixed-wing aircraft offered by the Microsoft Flight Simulator. But this time, the flight and the airplane were real.

View from the cockpit of the airplane on the shoreline of Lake Erie.
Flying over Cleveland, Ohio.

After the instructor took off and set the plane on a straight flight path, we were flying over the eastern suburbs of Cleveland along the Lake Erie shoreline. Being inside this Diamond DA20 two-seater airplane was an awesome experience. The plane was so tiny, and the top, front, and sides of the canopy were made of clear plexiglass, so you feel like a bird!

Burke Lakefront Airport, Cleveland Ohio
Approaching the Burke Lakefront Airport, Cleveland Ohio.

After making a smooth U-turn, I set the coarse back towards the Burke Lakefront Airport, Cleveland Ohio. Located at the northern shore of Lake Erie, this small public airport was designated by FAA as a reliever for the main Greater Cleveland hub, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Burke is also home to several (currently 3) flight schools.

I took this photo while piloting the tiny my (if only for an hour) Diamond DA20 two-seater airplane along the shores of Lake Erie. When flying in a straight line, there isn’t much to do, so I had a chance to snap a photo of the airport from the air.

Then, before landing, the instructor took back the controls and did all the work returning us back safely to the runway.

Downtown Cleveland and controls of the airplane.
Just landed and taxiing along the runway.

After a flawless touchdown, we taxied back to the flight club. No, it was not me who landed this beautiful bird. I only piloted it along the Lake Erie shoreline. The instructor did the taking-off and the landing. Which was a good thing: as I mentioned in the beginning, up to that point, I only landed airplanes of my Microsoft Flight Simulator, and even that was not a total success every time. By the way, if you are not a native Clevelander, you will be happy to know, that in front of the cockpit canopy you see Cleveland downtown.

To see more of my photos from around the world, follow me on Instagram @alexshaland1.

Published by Alex Shaland

I am a travel and wildlife writer, photographer and author of a safari adventure book "Suburbanites on Safari." A contributor for several Penton Publishing periodicals and other publications, I also collaborated as an editor and photographer with my wife, Irene Shaland, in producing several books and articles published in numerous magazines in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and East Africa.

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