I’ve always loved airplanes. Somehow or another I find myself in the air in a small propeller plane every year or so. In 2019 my friend Andy took me up, and he graciously let me slap my Go Pro to the bottom of it to get this shot you see here.

One of the very first times I flew in one of these planes I was much younger, probably 13 or 14. When I lived in Colorado we knew some neighbors of friends who had a plane, and they offered to take me up since I was interested.

I had been on commercial flights many times before, but flying in that little 4-seater was something totally new to me. The air and the three thousand foot drop outside was much closer, and we were protected by only a thin layer of aluminum. Chris let me take the controls. As I took hold of the yoke, the plane kept rising. I wasn’t used to the inward and outward dimension of the steering control, so as I leaned back and sat comfortably in the chair, I slightly pulled back on the yoke and we kept rising. I had to correct this every few seconds, and I noticed how any slight movement of the yoke would jerk the plane more than I was used to.

In a way it felt like a jet ski. We were bouncing up and down with the currents of the air, being nudged one way or another by turbulence. It was quite a surreal experience.

It just so happened that a tornado was forming that day while we were in the sky. The skies in the distance were dark, and as soon as we noticed the vortex forming and reaching for the ground, Chris regained control of the plane as I snapped pictures of the phenomenon. The tornado ended up destroying some store fronts and causing damage to some cars at a local mall in Aurora. Chris steered us around the bad weather and landed us on the ground safely, but not before we got the chance to admire the tornado vortex from an interesting and improbable angle.

Just a couple weeks ago I met my first pilot friend in Salt Lake. I can’t wait to get up in the air again.

Want more stories like this? Sign up below and I’ll send you a fresh one every Friday.