Budget eight hours for the mission, Derward Brooks told me. We were going to need a whole day for this.
Our mission was a three-leg flight: from Baltimore to Philadelphia to Lynchburg, Va., and back to Baltimore. A retired accountant, general aviation pilot and North Laurel resident, Brooks had volunteered to help fly a cancer patient home.
My mission was to film and photograph, despite being generally afraid of heights and flights.
Brooks met his co-pilot, Larry Esser, of Glen Burnie, at a small airfield behind BWI at 9 a.m. on June 10. Esser was already prepping the single-engine Cessna — the Skylane II — when we arrived.
The inside of the cabin was about the size of a compact sedan, fitting the pilot and co-pilot up front and two snug passengers in the back. Brooks had to confirm the combined weight of my body and my equipment before agreeing to take me, which didn’t help with my fears.
With three camera bodies, some audio equipment, lenses and spare batteries, I easily made weight. He also warned me that the ride was going to be a bit bumpier than what one might experience on a commercial jet.