Have I told you how wonderful my girlfriend Fern is?
In July, before I left for my big trip, she told me she'd arranged a going-away present for me on Saturday morning, but wasn't going to tell me what it was (no drinking on Friday night!). Further to the mystique, she made me blindfold myself, and drove me off into the morning sun.
Unfortunately, she didn't count on my amazing knowledge of the local streets and spot-on internal compass... but more on that later.
Anyway, she took me here:
where I got to do some of this:
I would say "I can see my house from here!", but the airspace we were allowed to use didn't include flying over the university area, so I was out of luck.
Back to that story. Fern wanted this to be a surprise, so she tried to confuse me by driving me around some streets around the university first. Unfortunately for her, even without trying, I knew where I was - I had lived in that 'hood for so long I knew the feel of the turns and length of the streets (locals will know the snaky traffic islands on Dey St are a dead giveaway).As an interesting aside, I took a ride in the boot of a friend's car about 10 years ago. (Stupidly, but willingly, I should add. Ewan's a daddy now! He doesn't do that kind of thing any more!) Him and Austen managed to drive me no more than 2 blocks from where we started in Glenview, but I thought I ended up in Dinsdale.
After I successfully divulged our location, she took a more direct tack and headed out State Highway 1 south to Tamahere (which is a big speedy bit, followed by a slowing-down and veering left, a right-turn at a roundabout, then speeding up again, going down a hill and a sharp slow turn before the Narrows Bridge - another dead giveaway) and towards the airport. Unfortunately she wasn't sure what side of the airport she needed to go to, so she stopped at the terminal to ask - giveaway number 3 - airports are rather loud places!
What she didn't know was the Waikato Aero Club was a client of mine at IT Partners, and I'd been there a lot, so I knew exactly where it was. I suck at being surprised.
Anyway, the blindfold came off and said surprise, even if Fern thought it a little spoiled by my amazing guesswork and spidey sense, was fantastic. After a brief introductory overview and fuel check with the instructor, it was proverbial 'full steam ahead' - I was pressing buttons and pulling levers as early as our taxi to the runway. I got to pull back during the takeoff and pretty much had full control of where I went for the 20-25 mins I was up over the skies of Hamilton.
Then, it was gently back down to earth (literally - a grass runway) and into the waiting arms of my surpriser.
We haven't even begun on how much great stuff she got me for my birthday!