Up, up and away! Mike Cullen gives Local Tourist an aerial view of Ottawa

Mike Cullen (Twitter) is a young public servant who is also a regular contributor to (Cult)ure Magazine as a music editorialist. His passions include music, coffee, writing, travel and comic books. 

I combined a recent birthday gift for my father with another activity that goes towards my indulgent spring/summer 2011: we went flying, giving us a whole new perspective of the city, not only as residents of Ottawa, but in my case as a local tourist. On a very clear, sunny Saturday afternoon, my father, my friend Melissa and I went down behind the Aviation Museum to the Rockcliffe Flying Club for the trip of a lifetime!

The four-seater Cessna 172 that Mike, his father, Melissa and Megan flew in

For a very reasonable fee, you can charter a sightseeing flight with the club, for anywhere between half an hour to an hour. With a few restrictions you can even plot your own course, with the opportunity to fly over your house (if you live in Ottawa), or over particular landmarks you wish to see from a whole new angle. I left it up to our fantastic pilot, Megan, to chart our half hour trip in a little four-seater Cessna 172.

Parliament Hill, as seen from the sky

Our trip took us up towards Constance Bay and looped back, following the Ottawa River. The views of the Gatineau Hills were incredible, and we saw all of the major landmarks, from the Chelsea Electric Dam to the Museum of Civilization and even Parliament Hill. Serious credit must go out to Megan, not only as a pilot, but as a tour guide as well. She only moved to Ottawa a month ago, and yet she referred to landmarks and points of interest as though she had been living in Ottawa all her life.

And because pictures have that clichéd ability to tell a thousand words, I’ll let the photos from our trip give you a slice of what you can expect from one of these flights!

What a unique gift idea, Mike!  How about you Ottawa – what’s the most unconventional way you’ve seen the city’s sights?  Would you be brave enough to go up in a four-seater aircraft?