Cesna 185 floatplane, am I brave or what?

In the category of what I did on my summer holiday, I went to the far north of Ontario (y’know, north of North Bay), spent a week at a glorius rustic cabin in the woods. It was absolute heaven.

Mr elbows had decided we should fly in as he used to do with the ‘boys’ back in the ‘day’, as it were. Since this will save our hosts several hours long drive in a boat to fetch us, I consent.

Things were so busy coming up on this vacation there was little time to really reflect on it. Truth be told though my personal taste in airplanes runs to the sort of plane that leaves Chicago and touches down in Tokyo 15 hrs later. The bigger the better, that’s always been my theory. I have been in smaller planes but I knew this was going to be the smallest yet.

My first concern was how will I tell them exactly where this friends cabin is, but it turns out not to be a problem when I book the flights, apparently they just fly by and you point. So I book the flight but get off the phone with an uneasy feeling I can’t put my finger on.

As vacation looms I begin to question the Mr about how small this plane will really be. First he lets drop that it’s probably the VERY same plane he flew on 20+ yrs ago. It finally clicks in what was bothering me about this airline. What kind of an airline doesn’t ask for a credit card? In his next breath he points out it will probably be flown by some youngster barely old enough to drink.There is no time to really consider any of this.

When we finally leave for the long drive north, along the way I reflect that this is a remarkably small community to have an airport. Well, of course there is no airport, he says. What, they just have a tower? Oh no, there’s no tower!

By the time my eyes fell on this machine I was not feeling really all that wonderful. I could not believe the size. I wasn’t sure our gear would fit.

But being both brave and foolhardy in equal measure I sat in the front seat beside the teenaged pilot.

Wee taxied well out into the lake and then up we went. I’m not going to lie, it was mighty scary. But we were flying just over the treetops it appeared, when I asked how fast Steve (pilot) said 125 mph. I can’t help thinking that cars can go that fast.

I swear it was smaller than the interior of the car. And I could barely see out the windshield although the view was great out the side window.

The entire instrument panel was shaking at take off, not reassuring. I was on the brink of terror.
At this altitude and speed turbulance feels way different.

And in the next second we were away from the townsight and it was breathtaking views. Clear water, giant rocks and old growth forest as far as the eye could see. The day was sunny and clear, the lakes were still like glass. It was just captivating.

Not a twing of fear returned until it was time to land. You get a much better sense of the physics of flight, you can kind of feel it in your bones in a way you can’t on an airbus. But when we were coming down onto the lake I have the overpowering sensation that as soon as the pontoons touch the surface, the whole plane will go ass over end into the cold clear water. I clenched my jaw and regretted sitting in the front seat.

Needless to say, we landed the most gentle airplane landing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I turned immediately to Steve and asked him what keeps the plane from going nose into the lake like it feels it surely will. Steve replied, ‘I do.’

So the return flight was even more pleasant, not being peppered with fear and all.

So seriously now, like, how brave am I?

You’re OK. My aunt ran a few bush planes out of St. Mary’s when I was a kid, and I thought the flight up to Bear Lake was a hoot.

Probably safer than driving on the Interstate on the weekend.

Glad to hear you had a good trip.

You fool!

Ummm, yeah.

Great story. I’ve always wanted to try a water landing…

Well done on the not screaming in terror thing.

I haven’t done any water landings but I’m definatly with you on the small plane issue, it just feels weird compared to a commercial jet. That said a stranger feeling was when i jumped out at 10000ft but thats another story.

I think a lot of people would be surprised at how many airports there are. Unfortunately we’re losing some of them. As cities grow, houses go up near the airports. People say, “Let’s buy a house by the airport!” Then they complain about all of the airplanes flying around and try to close the field. :rolleyes:

Yep. They’re pretty small compared to a car. On the other hand, it’s all relative. I haven’t been in a 185, but I have the impression that it’s a 182 with the rear window removed and a tail wheel added. Compared to a Robinson R-22, a 182 is positively roomy! :slight_smile:

Yeah, but can they do it without earning th driver a ticket? :wink: Every time I drive up to Washington, I wish I was in a Cessna.

Oh, that brings up such fond memories of old '573! Preflighting on a quiet morning, the bizarre ping! (an echo from the hangars) as I closed the dipstick access hatch, and the instrument panel trying to shake itself apart on startup! I’m going to have to start flying fixed-wings again. (And get current in the heli, too.)


Sounds like a great trip. I wish I could have gone! So… When are you getting your pilot’s certificate?

Johnny –

When the weather’s good it works fine. But I’ve picked up more ice flying around Mt. Shasta than anywhere else in the country. The crazy thing is that you pick it up even west of the mountain, it has such a dominant effect on the moisture flow off the ocean.

The terrain over the surrounding Siskyous is high enough that you don’t have options for lower. That’s how we ended up with a Mooney 252 – the need to fly higher and get OVER the clouds.

Best regards,


It helps when your dad in the right seat is a CFII. Never did pick up any ice, but admittedly most of the trips were in good weather. We took off very early one morning and had solid IFR for most of the trip. Man, was I glad to see the bits of black sky as we occasionally touched the cloud tops! I was flying left-seat, and dad was just keeping an eye on me. Several hours in the soup were exhausting. I knew we were banking, but the instruments were telling me otherwise. The occasional bits of black above allowed me to get rid of the disorientation for a few minutes. Then it was back on the instruments.

I always enjoyed seeing Mt. Shasta. One time we took off from WJF in So. Cal. and I was flying the whole trip to MFD under the hood. Dad “allowed the clouds to clear” when we got up by Shasta though, sho I could see it. :slight_smile:

We always flew dad’s 172 or 182, and our altitude was usually 10,500 on the way up.

I really should get my own plane one of these days, and earn an IFR ticket. Fixed-wings are a lot cheaper to buy and fly than a helicopter, and they carry more and are faster. Even the dowdy 172 is faster than an R-22 or a 300CB!

Hm. It just occured to me. The 172 is dowdy. But I’ve also felt it was also a doughty craft; bravely enduring the ham-fists of student pilots, soldiering on while faster and sleeker airplanes leave it in their wakes…

The truth is I think this journey has gone a long way towards allaying my fear of flying.

I’ve always been a nervous flyer. I have had the physics of flight explained to me in detail, numerous times, 'you see it must become airborn!" and I never quite got it. I mean I understood it and all, but when I saw a big old jet airliner it just seemed so unlikely somehow.

But in this little craft you could really feel the lift, and you truly did get the sensation it must lift. Cool. I think I’ll feel better the next time I have to fly.

Way cool thread.
Glad you are getting over your rear of airplanes (small)

Johnny LA, you are so right, hand flying IFR (smooth and calm, no bumps, just a cotton world) straight and level for hours with nothing terrifying going on is one of the hardest things to do. A real workout.

It is kind of magical to lift off, go into the clouds before you leave the airport boundary and then several hours later come down out of the clouds at or near minimums and there is a totally different place.

Extreme brain fart - wrong country, even. My aunt operated out of Prince Albert.

Anyway, good show elbows!