Skyhawk in the Wind

As told to King Snow...

At the end of last season, I kind of overshot a stepdown in the backcountry and tweaked my knee. I was really depressed, and was like, “You know what? I'm just going to take my summer off.” I went home to Quebec and decided to finish my flying course and get my pilot’s licence. I've been wanting to do that for so long. I already started it a few years back and had flown a few hours. It took me about four and a half months to finish. I bought a plane. It's called the “Skyhawk,” a little Cessna 172. A little bush plane. It fits four people, but I took a seat out so I can put surfboards and other things in there. Flying is a bit similar to snowboarding ‘cause you push yourself a bit more every time you fly and it gives you a bit of adrenaline.

Anyways, two days after I got my license, I decided to fly across Canada. People were posting photos of all the new dumping snow I was like, "I need to get outta here." Thinking if I leave my plane at home in Quebec, I'm not going to be able to fly all winter. Best thing I can do is bring it out West with me. So I started the journey not knowing how it was going to turn out, thinking it's either gonna take me three days or three weeks. It felt like we got stuck everywhere before finally making it to the Prairies.

By this point my confidence in the plane is high. We wake up early one morning, the winds were really high and it was our last flight before the Rockies. I'm like, “Fuck it. Let's just go.” Worst case, we're in the Prairies, we can land in a field. It's not like we're gonna crash into mountains or anything. So we took up, and are flying from Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, to Pincher Creek, Alberta.

Charles Reid, Frontside 1080, Whistler, BC. [o] Scott Serfas

As we’re coming into land, the first thing I see is a thousand wind turbines all around the airport. And they're going fucking crazy, dude. Whipping around, it’s insanely windy, I’m like, "Oh my God."  I'm on my final approach and everything is still going pretty well. Then I'm like, "Holy shit." At this point were almost stalling cause the headwinds were like 40 knots, or 75 km/h. So, literally the plane is almost stalling at this point and when I touch the wheels on the runway, my plane almost flips over. The plane got into crosswind draft and the plane took off again, we land again in the grass on the other side of the runway. The winds were so strong, I'm literally floating my plane sitting still. So fucking lucky. I get out the plane with Hugo, my best friend who’s been on the trip with me. I am so glad he did the trip with me, he was so calm the entire time. The best co-pilot ever. Anyways, we get off the plane and I go give him a hug, I'm still shaking nervously. Then Hugo says, "Charles, Charles, Charles." I look back and the plane is just backing up by itself in the wind. We run to the plane and hold it down. I grabbed some concrete blocks to strap it down and now the concrete blocks are coming off the ground as the wings are still catching so much wind.

   We got stuck in Pincher Creek for seven days. It took a good three days before I calmed myself down thinking, OK, I got this. Finally the winds died and we had the perfect conditions. The Rockies were really bumpy but it was super safe and we made it over and into Squamish, BC, within two little flights.

[o] Russell Dalby

The plan for the Skyhawk’s future is going to be scoping lines in the mountains. Flying to Tofino and hopefully start landing my plane on beaches to surf. And obviously make sure to stay out of the 40-knot crosswinds when landing.

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