Sunday, April 6, 2008

Flying around a plane!

Here is the little plane that would be taking us around the beautiful midi-Pyrenees region for some sightseeing. Our pilot Phillipe was a chemist from our lab at ENSIACET and offered to take us flying with him this weekend. How could you turn down that opportunity! He has a 4 month old daughter and two other childern, so I felt safe in his hands.
Kerry and Phillipe (front-seat) took off from a small airport in Toulouse in a 4-seater plane owned by Phillipe's flying club. Phillipe has been flying for 9 years and had over 200 hours in the sky solo. I felt pretty safe with his expertise and was ready for the adventure.
But, one never forgets some things when it comes to flying and I took my quick minute to say a little prayer! Hey, you never know!
The skies were incredibly beautiful. Not a cloud in sight and breathtaking views from 2500 feet! Our ceiling elevation for this aircraft was 3000 feet and we used every bit of it to capture all the beauty of southwest France. One view showed the snow capped Pyrenees mountains while the other showed the lush valleys that grow the famous wines of this region. It wasn't Bordeaux, but they make pretty good wine in Gaillac, Cahors, and the Fronton region.
You might remember a visit I took to Carcassonne to see this famous medieval castle during my first weekend in Toulouse. I never imagined I would get to see it from this view! Luckily, visiting these areas and cycling around the countryside gave me a greater appreciation of what I was able to see this day. We had a map in the cockpit so we knew where we had ridden the morning before, and where that steep hill was in that random town that we had ridden in the day before, and so on. I usually like to report on a culinary adventure with each blog entry, but this one would be the exact opposite as about 1 hour or so into the flight, I took on the new nickname of "Ralph Walnofer" and I'll leave the rest to your imagination. All was well though, and we landed happily back at the airport. Kerry and I spent the rest of the afternoon at the mega-giant superstore mall/market thing named Oceannia. Think Wal-Mart meets your local mall. It was terrible and I really came to appreciate the mom&pop bakeries, frommageries, and shops that provide my services in the city. The fresh baguette is well worth the extra 20 cents that it costs me I have come to realize.

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