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  • Writer's pictureJosie Cray

First Flight

Between my first meeting with N9384J and the first time I took to the skies in her was a little over a month. First impressions were sketchy, actually, they were down right worrisome. How was something that looks so dilapidated inside going to actually launch into the heavens and, well, stay up there? For an extended period of time? I just wasn’t convinced.

January 24th turned out to be a sunny but cold day. The high temperature reaching just above 40℉ with the few inches of snow that fell several days before still on the ground. As I performed the preflight on the Cessna 172s I was training in, she arrived. N9384J was brought in from Winchester, by her previous owner where she was having her radios checked. By the way, the radios are almost as old as the plane.

The previous owner took me up for the first time that afternoon. We received the clearance to take off on runway 17 and off we went. This was not only my first flight in 84J, but my first in a low wing plane. She is small! Our shoulders are just shy of touching, I feel as though I’m crouching in a tiny clown car. We bump our way down the runway and are lifted off by the aiming point markings. Once beyond the runway, we turned west, flew over our house on our way to the route 7 gap and the Shenandoah Valley.

I should have known then that we would have quite the road ahead when the radio cut out on us about 5 miles west of KJYO. Good thing we had a handheld emergency radio. We went out to the practice area above Berryville and the radio started working again. This was the beginning of a long fight to fix a radio that was never fixed. Upon returning to Leesburg, the landing was just as smooth as takeoff and I saw the advantage of low wings as we descended to the runway with none of the high wing flare out.

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