Joy rides on the Skyhawk

Soul in the air

Joy rides on the Skyhawk

Taxiing, taking to the skies only to keep themselves healthy and returning to the tarmac for long hours of wait, days, sometimes, the aircraft at the Government Flying Training School (GFTS) in Jakkur, idling for 14 years, have their souls in the air today.

And, hoping to provide a flying start to their second journey, the school has decided to allow Bangaloreans “co-pilot” the aircraft on a joy ride.

“Joy Rides on Aeroplanes,” a banner screams out for attention from the gate of the school, which opens to the tarmac holding aircraft ready to fly and pilots waiting to take people on a ride.

There is a price. A 15-minute ride, for one person will cost Rs 1,500, while the same is reduced to Rs 1,000 if two or three people wish to take to the skies.

These are basic rates only, people wanting to stay in the air for longer, will get discounts on their fare, a senior official said. Only one of the three aircraft that the school owns, the Cessna 172––Skyhawk––will be used for the rides, with two passengers at one time.

While it will be another week before the school advertises the initiative to garner more attention, four couples have already flown in the Cessna, and the feedback, officials claim, has been encouraging.

“Four couples have flown so far, while one couple celebrated their anniversary, another man had his wife for a surprise here,” the official said, adding that the first couple flew for half-an-hour, while the other stayed up there for an hour.

What more? Flying is free if one is under the age of five. “...Provided a parent or a guardian flies with them,” authorities says.

The school hopes that the rides begin and end the same way––with Joy. Nobody under the influence of alcohol, or medically not suitable for flying will be allowed. An indemnity bond is mandatory.

“You haven’t seen a tree until you’veseen its shadow from the sky,” Amelia Earhar, American aviation pioneer and author, had once said. For many Bangaloreans, whose city is fast losing its tree cover, this could well be a chance toe her line.

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