Getting High In Charleston: A Photo Essay

Tim Brennan

Getting high. Aw, man, it's better than therapy. When life gets frustrating, I like to get high. It's cheaper than talking to a therapist in an office, I can do it on a whim, and sometimes it opens up the creative synapses that allow me to create better music. 


I don't like to get too high, because coming down can be quite long. And when you do get too high, sometimes you lose connection with the world. You have to manage the ride to do it right. And when you do it right, it can be very satisfying.


A couple of weeks ago, I needed a break. I was having one of "those" weeks, and it was only Tuesday. I had a light day ahead of me at work, and thought I could break free to indulge myself. As it turns out, my wife, Rachel, had already secured a sitter for our one year old, but found out that she did not need to get much work done either. So I texted her with an invite to join me. She responded with a "Yes! Yes! I'll meet you in a half hour."


It had been a long time since we'd indulged ourselved like this together. How long? I wasn't sure. Definitley since before the baby. It was about time.


Fortunately, Rachel documented the entire trip with iPhone photos, which I'd like to share with you.


When she arrived at the Mount Pleasant airport, I had already preflighted the plane I had reserved for us, so she just hopped in, put on her headset, and I started it up. It was a clear day and the winds were favoring a northerly takeoff. As we lifted off, some turbulence bounced us around, so I took it up to a nice altitude of 2000 feet, and banked right to head toward the great Atlantic Ocean.


It's never been easier to cross Highway 17 at a comfortable 100 miles an hour.


We took a right turn when we reached the beach....



... and contined along to Isle of Palms.



The IOP connector looks tiny from above. I've run that, and a lot of routes below me. What takes a lot of effort and sweat to run looks tiny from above.



Around Sullivan's Island, I contacted Charleston Approach Control on the radio to let them know who I was, what I was flying, and where I planned to go. That way they could let me know of any planes in my area, and direct me in different ways if they needed me to avoid other traffic. 



We passed the harbor and continued past the lighthouse....



... and took a look at the damage to the end of Folly Beach.



Less than 15 minutes from the time we took off, we were over the Ocean Course at Kiawah.



Then we turned back toward Charleston after circling Camp St. Christopher, where I had camped with my son for a school trip the week before.



Even though we are in a plane, the waters below bring up my desires to explore the unnamed pathways that snake through the Lowcountry. 



I raised Air Traffic Control on my radio to let them know I wanted to descend a bit while flying over the harbor and following the Wando. They approved it and we descended while turning left over Sumter


And toward the city.


Rachel volunteers at the Yorktown, so she made sure she snapped a photo of the ship to give to her supervisor, even though they probably have more than a few already. 



Over the Ravenel, where I was reminded I had not run it in weeks. I put that item in my to do list.


We took the plane lower to shoot photos of our home, and the property being built next to us. 



You see, that's my house over there. That one. No not that one. The other. Never mind.


A few people on jet skis chased each other in the river.



Air Traffic Control let us know we were out of their area and we were free to switch radio frequencies. We did just that, called out to other traffic in the area to make sure it was clear, and came in for a landing. 

After tying up the airplane, a flight instructor and his student passed us on their way to another plane. "How was it up there today? Bumpy?" they asked. "Get over 2000 and you're fine. If you're doing low level work, you might get bounced around a bit," I told him. 


Yeah, the closer you are to your land life, the bumpier it can be.


The entire flight took one hour. Mount Pleasant to Bull's Bay to Seabrook Island and back. There is no e-mail, cell phone calls, or other distractions while piloting a plane. So the trip was a lot further away than geography would indicate. 


I paid my rental fee, gave the flight club their ariplane keys, then Rachel and I went off to our respective duties.


I've flown since 2000 and got my first license just before 9/11. I'm instrument rated as a Commercial Single and Multi Engine pilot with over 1500 flight hours logged. And I was a flight instructor for a few years.

If you ever thought, "I'd like to be a pilot," let me know. Getting high can be a very very good thing. When done right. 

(Sorry if the headline was misleading. Drugs and piloting do not mix.)