We all have a weakness, and mine is certainly flying. Even before I arrived at Western University I began scouting for the nearest flying school, and fortunately, Forest City Flight Centre is just down the road at London Airport (YXU). [I say ‘just down the road’, but busses here are particularly slow as they stop every 2 seconds – apparently people avoid walking like the plague here – so according to Google it would take about an hour.]
Last Friday I attempted the bus journey, merely to get my bearings and to show my face at the school. What I thought would be a laborious road trip, turned into something a little more surprising. On the number 36, an almost empty bus, I met the driver. His name was Howard and he wore a cool pair of shades, so I immediately had some respect for him. As I got on the bus and greeted him, he took an interest in my alien accent. He enquired about my reason for being here in Canada, and after our short introduction, he began cracking some jokes. I felt comfortable enough to ask him where best to alight the bus, at which point he discovered my interest in flying. “I’ve got a nephew that flies!” he said. Our faces lit up simultaneously. In true courteous Canadian fashion, he continued: “I’m not sure where [the school] is… but what I want you to do, is to stay right up front with me, and we’ll find it.”
If I’m honest, it didn’t take him long to admit defeat, but I suppose he did have a job to do… He instead directed me into the departures terminal, who happily printed me off directions. [Yet another example of Canadian generosity] Finally, after walking to the Northern-edge of the airport, I found it. A small, hangar-style building, with a homely interior. I met the (very proud) owner and CFI, Mike. He told me all about the school, its fleet, what its like to fly in Canada and how much better it is to fly here than in the UK. It’s cheaper, there’s more freedom, better scenery, and less air traffic! I felt myself slipping; the temptation was too great. If only money posed no obstacle…
Either way, I was certain to book a lesson, so that’s what I did. And today I braved the Canadian heat once more on my venture to the airport. On my way, another fortunate event occurred. [I think from now on, I’ll refer to events like these as Canadian ‘serendipities’, as they seem to be pretty frequent.] Passing by the Diamond hanger, whilst swatting away some wasps, I began to hear loud noises coming from one of the private hangars. Not loud because of mechanical work, but loud because of music. An all too familiar song was being played: Suspicious Minds. The woman, who was supposedly responsible for the source of the music, was dancing while also tending to her plane. She caught sight of me chuckling to myself. Instead of recalling the smirk and apologising, I decided that she seemed friendly enough to handle my laughter. We exchanged a dance move each, in a sort of strange, distant dance-off; made sad by the fence that stood between us, and the (likely) husband that was left to mow the lawn while she tended to their plane. But once the dance move was complete, we continued our business. Why did I tell you this? Well, perhaps next time I visit the airport, I might be fortunate enough to be invited to look at their plane. Oh, and because I wanted to give you more reason to believe that Canadians are amazing!
After all this however, things took a turn for the worse. Upon reaching the flight centre, I was told that my lesson had been cancelled as the military were in town. They apparently needed to prepare for the airshow this weekend and so restrictions were applied to the airspace. Granted, three good things came of this: i) I got to see the practice displays for free; and ii) in doing so, I met an aeroplane fanatic. So not only did I get to witness the incredible stunts, I was able to learn about the history of each and every aircraft too – whether I wanted to or not. iii) This man also gave me a lift (his son was there as well, don’t worry mum!) to Timmy’s* for lunch.
Having got a bite to eat and returned to watch the last of the aircraft displays, I hopped back on a bus to find none other than the master of bus driving himself, Howard. So although my afternoon hadn’t gone to plan, it was still one of ‘Canadian serendipity’. And my temptation for flying is yet to be rewarded… So bring on Tuesday morning!
I’ll close this post by saying just two words, as I’m about to go and watch my first Ice Hockey match: “Go Mustangs!”
* – “Timmy’s” is Canadian for Tim Horton’s, or as I like to call it: the wonderful love child of Starbucks and Krispy Kreme [soon to arrive in London, UK, so I’m told].