OA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 26861 posts, RR: 58 Posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 7892 times:
Welcome / Fáilte
Some time ago Gareth's ( gpbcroppers63 ) Girlfriend bought him a surprise gift of a flying lesson. It is something Gareth had always wanted to do so this was to be a big surprise. Gareth's parents and myself were all contacted by Sandra to be part of the special weekend and of course in on the secret.
It was starting to come together nicely. I had my days off work and Gareth's parents had their flights booked. The date was set. In the lead up to the date we had emails going back and forth between all of us without Gareth's knowledge. This was hard and sometimes stressful as we could not afford to make any mistakes. I was extra careful as to who I was sending the emails to and then proof reading my emails to Gareth
The plan was that Gareth's parents would fly over from BRS-DUB on the Thursday then get the bus to Galway. They would fly back on the Tuesday . I was to take the 0430am bus from where I live to be there for the Saturday morning at 09:45.
The day came for Gareth's parents to fly and on the Thursday I got a worried email from Sandra advising that their flight was cancelled. Panic set in but I knew there were other flights so tried to reassure Sandra. Indeed later we heard that Gareth's Father ( Pete ) had secured them two seats on the later flight. They even got VIP escort from the gate to the aircraft. Kudos to Servisair and Ryanair.
I was tracking them in the air so emailed Sandra when they were on their way :
OA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 26861 posts, RR: 58
Reply 1, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 7898 times:
So with the panic over and a long delay they were in DUB . They managed to get a later bus with only a few minutes to spare so all was back on track . Gareth still had no idea but then he got the first surprise. Sandra had arranged a meal in a restaurant after work but he did not know his parents would be sitting there waiting on them. When he walked in he told me later that he thought ''There is someone over there that looks like my Mum....hang on that is my Mum '' lol... So the evening was a great one Im told and Gareth asked his Dad if I knew about it . His Dad said yes and I got a text from Gareth which I wont repeat but was in good humor.
Then the second stage of the plan was my trip down to Galway. I was working til late on the Friday so for me I was home for a few hours and then had to get up to get the 4:30am bus to Dublin Airport. I was then to connect to the 06:45am GoBus to Galway. I got up and took a very hot shower before leaving the house for the bus station. After 55 minutes I was at Dublin Airport. I had an hour to kill so I went to McDonalds for a snack and coffee. I then went to area 14 in the coach park to get the bus to Galway.
It had been over 10 years since I had been that way so was pleased to see a fast and comfortable motorway. The bus had free wifi and reclining seats so I slept for 99% of the journey. Around 09:45 I arrived into Galway bus station and awaited the all clear from Gareth's girlfriend Sandra. We had arranged that they would go to the Forster hotel round the corner for breakfast and then I would walk in and surprise Gareth. I had been very careful to try to make Gareth think that I was working all weekend. Even telling him I was off on the Tuesday and the Thursday when I was actually at work God that was tough keeping that going lol...
Anyway the text came through that they were all seated in the restaurant and I walked in , lots of laughs and hugs and Gareth had been a bit suspicious something was going to heppen but was surprised all the same and more importantly glad to see me This was in fact the first time I had met Gareth's girlfriend and his parents. We all felt like we knew eachother though due to the numerous emails over the weeks.
So we all had an Irish breakfast and tried to convince Gareth that this was the final surprise and we could all relax now . Gareth's flying lesson was from Sligo Airport which was a two hour drive away . We had to try to make him drive there without giving too much away . We decided to have a stroll around Galway city which was very pleasant I must say . Then I needed to pop to Boots so I managed to get Sandra and his Mum to come in with me so that we could talk in private. Sandra said that this was going to be difficult. How do you get a guy to drive 150KM for no reason . I said to leave it to me so walked right out and said to Gareth ''right we are going to Sligo '' Gareth said '' SLIGO?'' I just said yes lets go . We knew he would suspect something but he still did not know what .
So we all jumped into the car and made our way to Sligo. The timing was perfect as Gareth's flying lesson was at 16:00 .
Along the way we passed Knock Airport :
No time to stop we continued our journey. As we neared Sligo I made general chit chat about Sligo Airport and that it was all closed down now trying to make him believe it was .
Sligo used to be busy with regular Domestic services from the old days of Aer Lingus Shorts 360 to the later ATRs of Aer Arran . Now with the funding gone for the PSO route there are no more commercial flights sadly.
As we neared Sligo I saw a sign saying 500M to the Sligo Airport/Strand Hill turn off. I had to think of something quickly so I suggested we head to look at Strand Hill as we had 90 minutes until we needed to be in Sligo town. Lucky this did not spark any suspicion from Gareth and the drive was very scenic. I knew Sandra and Gareth's parents were laughing inside though and impressed with my quick thinking .
Lucky the road to Strand Hill is leading down to Sligo Airport so when we got nearer I suggested we take a look even though it was closed . Gareth and I always look at Airports when we are near so this was normal.
So we arrived at SXL and the weather was perfect. After a few minutes Sandra called Gareth over and she presented him with his book and voucher . He was totally surprised and we were all relieved that we had managed to get to the end .
A sign from the past :
There were a few guys at the reception desk and then a Pilot from Usher Aviation came to escort Gareth to
get ready for his flight.
OA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 26861 posts, RR: 58
Reply 4, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 7885 times:
Landing Video click to view :
So time to leave the aircraft and head back to the Terminal.
Only in SXL would you see a surfer walk up the side of the Airport Terminal :
After a few minutes Gareth appeared and it was time to leave SXL. Of course everyone was excited and Gareth
was telling us everything about his experience. The Pilot seemed to let Gareth do everything and they also had a good chat about aviation.
We decided to head round to Strand Hill where the weather was on the turn . It was windy and the light was going.
We left and made our way back to Galway. On the way back we passed Knock Airport and decided to have a quick look as we were passing .
Quite an impressive place for the location . LH fly here also .
After a pleasant look around we got back to Galway and Gareth's Dad got us a lovely Indian meal. By that stage we were really ready for a nice meal .
Then we were all ready for a good nights rest so we all got an early night .
The next day we had a relaxing one . Home made bread for breakfast and some unique Rum Jam from Sandra's Mother in Germany. That stuff certainly gives you a kick in the mornings
We had a pleasant walk before I had to leave for the coach back to Dublin . Being the kind lot they all are they all came to see me off at the coach station. After a few words and talking about what a great weekend it was I made my way onto the waiting bus.
Go Bus ready to take me to DUB.
So thats the end of our report. A bit different from my usual ones . We all had a wonderful time and Gareth really had a great experience. Sandra really did an amazing job from start to finish in arranging this. It was lovely to finally meet her and Gareth's parents. Such a wonderful family.
Gareth Im really looking forward to our mega trip in a few weeks and just hope they have loaded enough Champagne for us
Thanks everyone for reading and we appreciate all your comments as usual.
gpbcroppers63 From Ireland, joined Jan 2008, 520 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 7850 times:
Thanks Philip for an amzing report about my fabulous weekend surprise. I had a blast with all of you guys and can't wait to do it all again. I need to start saving for my PPL now.
The flight itself was fantastic and the instructor was great. The best thing about it though was that my best friends and family worked so well together to get it all sorted. Huge thanks must go to all of you, especially Sandra!
I'm really looking forward to our next adventure in a few weeks too. They're always memorable and this one should be even more so!
I hope all of you enjoyed Philip's report and look forward to reading your comments.
According to one of my colleagues, my problem is that I'm addicted to travel!
CaptainRed From Germany, joined Oct 2010, 684 posts, RR: 21
Reply 11, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 6141 times:
Hi Philip and Gareth,
great report, something different this time, but I really enjoyed it. Reminded me so much of my flight training.
Such a wonderful idea from his girlfriend to offer this as a present for Gareth.
And how nice from you to join him and capture it on video and pictures. The first flight lesson is something special for sure and it is certainly great to have some souvenirs from it (nice landing by the way). Now if Gareth really continues with flight lessons you have to be there as well for his first solo flight ...
Quoting OA260 (Thread starter): Home made bread for breakfast and some unique Rum Jam from Sandra's Mother in Germany.
"Himbeer mit Schuss", love it, yummy ...
Greetings (and a lot of happy landings for Gareth)
Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 11): great report, something different this time, but I really enjoyed it. Reminded me so much of my flight training.
Glad you enjoyed it and it brought back memories.
Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 11): Such a wonderful idea from his girlfriend to offer this as a present for Gareth.
Indeed it was. She's fantastic!
Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 11): And how nice from you to join him and capture it on video and pictures. The first flight lesson is something special for sure and it is certainly great to have some souvenirs from it (nice landing by the way). Now if Gareth really continues with flight lessons you have to be there as well for his first solo flight
Thanks for the compliment on my landing. It was pretty gusty so the instructor helped me with the final few feet but I lined it up with the runway all by myself. It was amazing to have Philip there to witness and record my first flight.
infodesk From Switzerland, joined May 2006, 1447 posts, RR: 33
Reply 13, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 5820 times:
Hi Philip, & Gareth,
What a super surprise you were all in on. It sure must have taken some planning but it great to hear it all worked out. That's day none of you will forget in a hurry.
Quoting OA260 (Thread starter): I was extra careful as to who I was sending the emails to and then proof reading my emails to Gareth
Oh yes, one wrong click and it all goes pear shaped.....!
Quoting OA260 (Thread starter): Sligo used to be busy with regular Domestic services from the old days of Aer Lingus Shorts 360 to the later ATRs of Aer Arran . Now with the funding gone for the PSO route there are no more commercial flights sadly.
Such a shame to see this sort of thing happen and very sad pictures of the empty terminal. Mind you, it looked pretty quiet at NOC too!
Any plans to try out a bigger plane next time?
"Do nothing in haste, look well to each step and from the beginning think what may be the end" - Edward Whymper
Quoting sultanils (Reply 9): Thanks for this different report, I'm sure Gareth appreciated this gift. Well, next time be sure to book a 777 iso a little Cessna (or whatver type it was). That would be for sure even more impressive
If you think I would be on the same flight with Gareth at the controls on a B777 you must be joking LOL... Well not at least for 10 years . He still has his L plates lol...
NOC is always quiet in the evening as no aircraft are based there. There's just no room. Lol!! It's a busy enough little airport during the day and is one of the few airprots gaining traffic and doing reasonably well financially I believe. Mind you, the €10 charge just to get into the departure lounge must help.
And he asked if I fancied coming out flying... took me around half a second to answer that question! Had a great day out, and after telling his dad I spent a lot of time on MS flight sim, he let me take the controls, and guided me through a turn. Great memories.
No doubt Gareth will look back on this with the same feelings.
eastafspot From France, joined Jan 2008, 747 posts, RR: 12
Reply 23, posted (1 year 9 months 1 week 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 4850 times:
Sounds like you had a convivial time all of you.
Gareth looks ready for bigger birds lol.
I am surprised to discover that Aer Arann does fly anymore to Sligo. since when?
i had a short flight in 2002 on ATR42 from DUB, hehe that's was fun but could not see than much because of the dreadful weather.
Your TRs always make me feel hungry
thank for sharing Phillip
(BTW: happy birthday gareth)
Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 17): That sounded like a great weekend! And its good that Philip documented it to look back on over the years.
It was a fab weekend. I'm so grateful to Philip for documenting the whole thing.
Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 17): Reading that reminded me of when I was 15 - one Saturday morning, I got a call from one of my school friends who's dad owns a plane - And he asked if I fancied coming out flying... took me around half a second to answer that question! Had a great day out, and after telling his dad I spent a lot of time on MS flight sim, he let me take the controls, and guided me through a turn. Great memories.
That's a great story. Unexpected things like that are always the best.
Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 17): No doubt Gareth will look back on this with the same feelings.
Definitely. It was a weekend that will live long in the memory.
Oh I don't know about that now. Maybe with a bit more practice.
Quoting eastafspot (Reply 23): I am surprised to discover that Aer Arann does fly anymore to Sligo. since when?
It's a few years now. Once the Public Service Obligation funding was withdrawn, Aer Arann stopped virtually all of their domestic services. It's a real shame as Galway airport is 5 minutes from where I work and was really handy for connecting to flights in Dublin.
Quoting eastafspot (Reply 23): i had a short flight in 2002 on ATR42 from DUB, hehe that's was fun but could not see than much because of the dreadful weather.