One of the first flights I made as private pilot was the Ville Marie circuit on November 17, 2009. This trip takes us through metropolitan control zones that seem quite daunting at first . I had not made any recreational flights as a passenger during my private pilot training, so I had little or no idea of what to expect penetrating controlled airspace around Montreal . I had not yet been flying with the big guys .
Sébastien Maltais was dispatcher at the time and quickly reassured me of the ease with which this operation could be done . The flight in Cessna C-152 C-GQOS began strangely . Shortly after takeoff I hear a strange sound which suggests engine failure, so I quickly asked to get back on the runway. My first attempt was too high because I was nervous or eager so I redo a circuit before finally landing. What was the alarm ? The door had closed over the edge of the seat belt. The metal edge thus struck the fuselage repeatedly and made this disturbing noise. The belt is tucked back inside, and the problem is solved , the flight can now proceed as planned .
Indeed, there is no need to worry when being passed from one controller to another. After initial climb, St-Jean Tower asks first to stay ” no higher than 2000 feet .” At the edge of the control zone, the controller asks to contact ” Montreal Terminal ” on 125.15 . Nervous and fresh out of my pilot training, I make my initial contact “Montreal, This is Cessna 152 Golf Quebec Oscar Sierra .” It quickly becomes obvious that air traffic control does not act intimidating or seeking infractions. Its role is simply to guide me through the Terminal area so that I can execute exactly what I want to do. He asked me to “press Ident” (the transponder) and I am “radar identified.” Communication is good . I ask to do the circuit at 2500 feet. The request is granted and he asks me to head for the Mercier Bridge. If I did not know where it was, he would have probably given me a course to follow, but the landmarks are really easy to recognize, especially after reading the VTA before leaving. The river, mountains and bridges are really distinctive.
Terminal Montreal then asks me contact Montreal Tower on 119.9. I am now entering the Trudeau airport control zone. The transition is easy. It seems that half the communications made in French and half in English. The controllers know who is who. Now near the Mercier Bridge , I now head towards the Turcot interchange and downtown. The scenery is spectacular. A little nervous during this first experience, I make a single circuit and return to St-Jean.
I redid this road Sunday evening, April 27, 2014 . now much more proficient, with a professional pilot rating. I did two laps on a night flight at 1500 feet. The weather seen from the ground before departure did not seem terrific, but a look at the observations and forecasts of Nav Canada website reassured me how comfortable this fligth should be. Indeed, I was alone in the circuit, and the residual clouds of the day painted a stunning picture of the Montreal skyline.
-Alain Pepin, May 2 2014