By Vetrichelvan Jayaprakasan
I came to know about a mystical place called Orcas Island after I read a book called “Immortal Self,” written by Master Rishi Aaravindha Himadra.
I was deeply inspired by the spiritual knowledge and real life experiences shared by Aaravindha. When I found out he lives in Orcas Island, Washington, I thought it would be a great idea to fly to the island and meet him in person.
My first mission was to be able to fly by myself safely over the water and know how to land at Orcas Island Airport (KORS) in Washington state.
The runway at Orcas Island Airport is just 2,900′ by 60′. The runway threshold is very close to the ocean water front and that makes landing very tricky. I decided that I would fly first with an instructor, Dick Weichmann, who had already flown to Orcas Island and was familiar with the area and the airport. This way, I could learn from his expertise.
My anniversary was coming up, so I thought what a beautiful day it would be to fly to a mystical place and celebrate our anniversary with my beautiful wife, Mari.
With much joy and enthusiasm, I began to make all preparations for the trip, such as keeping an eye out for a perfect day to fly with high pressure, no precipitation, or high cirrus clouds.
I filed the flight plan for flying at 6,500′ from Troutdale Airport (KTTD) in Portland, Oregon, to Orcas Island Airport. I did my homework, calculating the performance of the airplane, rate of climb, and its best glide distance. This preparation helped me select a safe altitude, safe navigation route, and remain within gliding distance of the land.
It is very important in flying — and in life — to have a backup plan when you plan to do something new or significant. Put all your energy into it and learn as much as possible beforehand. That way you can conquer fear and succeed in your goals and dreams.
When we were flying over the water near Whidbey Island on the way to Orcas Island, I was a little scared and my wife told me that her hands were sweating. I took some deep breaths and relaxed, and said to myself, “Everything will be fine.”
During this time of fear, my flight training came in handy. In aviation they say, “Aviate, Navigate and Communicate.” I focused my attention on flying the plane instead of concentrating on the fear of flying over the water.
This reminds me that in life when you encounter fear, you must embrace it and not run away from it. When you face your fear, you expand, you grow, and you gain more confidence from the experience. You also learn different ways of accomplishing a task in a safe manner.
While coming in for landing at Orcas Island on Runway 16, I was a little high, so I did a side slip maneuver to lose altitude and quickly descend to the runway without increasing airspeed. I was so proud of myself for landing safely at Orcas Island Airport.
Just as we parked the plane, we meet an extraordinary couple who had just landed before us and we quickly became friends. We went to Madrona Bar and Grill and had a delicious lunch. The sky was blue, the water was refreshing, and Orcas Island was shining with its amazing beauty and radiance.
After leaving Orcas Island, we did a short stop over at Friday Harbor, Washington. It is a nice airport to land at and we were able to spend some time enjoying the beauty of the island.
Towards the evening, we flew back to Troutdale. On the way back, my flight instructor commented that I was maintaining my heading and altitude better this time.
We covered a distance of more than 440 nautical miles from Troutdale to Orcas Island and back to Troutdale. We clocked a total flying time of 5 hours and 12 minutes, with a ground speed ranging from 60 knots to 125 knots per hour and climbing to maximum altitude of 7,500′ MSL.
I am very happy that I learned how to fly and land at Orcas Island and Friday Harbor airport. Now, I feel confident that I can fly the plane by myself to Orcas Island or Friday Harbor.
Someday in the near future, I and my wife will fly to San Juan Islands and meet with the author of “Immortal Self,” Master Rishi Aaravindha Himadra. And of course, spend more time exploring the beauty of the San Juan Islands — meditate, play in the water, and have close encounters with magnificent Orca whales.
When I started doing my research about the San Juan Islands, I learned that it is also a place where Orca whales, and many other families of whales, visit.
Orca whales are magnificent mammals. Their songs awaken the deep creative power residing within every human being. Whales have a very strong spiritual connection with humanity and they are the caretakers of ancient wisdom. They also help us live a more magical and wondrous life, as does flying.