The day finally came for the grandsons and their parents to go for an airplane ride with "Poppy." (I'm not sure they know my real name any longer, and that's fine with me.) Daughter Mindy had flown with me years ago, but it was in a DC-9, and I'm not sure she remembered the experience very well. This was also the first time in a small airplane for son-in-law Tyler and the boys. Up until now, their knowledge of their grandad as a pilot was merely anecdotal and through seeing photos of me dressed in a pilot's uniform or showing views of the airplanes I flew.
We all showed up at the sleepy little Huntsville airport, and I got a big kick out of how the boys had dressed for the flight. Little Pryce was in a little junior pilot's uniform, and Mason was wearing one of my decades-old pilot's caps that I had given him. Apparently, they were really getting into this, much to my delight.
The line personnel brought the Cessna to the terminal ramp, and I went out to preflight it, after which Mindy and the boys came out to get strapped in.
When it was Pryce's turn to sit in the copilot's seat, he insisted on reading the checklist, because I had told him that pilots are supposed to use checklists so as not to overlook something important.
After all was ready, we fired up the engine and taxied to the runway end, where we made the engine runup and I asked the boys to help me look for other airplanes that might be approaching for a landing. (There was no control tower at this airport.) Seeing no other traffic, I advised on the radio that we were about to depart, and then we lined up on the runway and took off with a roar. I had prepared Mindy and the boys for the engine noise which, compared to the airliners I had been flying, was formidable. (In a 727 with the engines far back in the rear, the sound of the engines is almost inaudible in the cockpit.)
Here we are, climbing away from the airport on the first takeoff:
Remaining at low altitude for good sightseeing, I was a little apprehensive that my passengers might be affected by the slightly bumpy air, to which small aircraft are much more susceptible than large ones. Luckily, no one had a problem at all, and they were all transfixed by what the ground looked like from the air. I pointed out various landmarks to them, and they seemed completely enthralled by the experience, just as I had hoped.
We didn't stay up but a half hour on each of two flights. We had to land and let the boys change seats about halfway through. Once airborne, I let Mason hold the yoke on his side for a brief time to give him a feel of it, but he quickly turned it back to me after a stronger-than-usual wind gust jostled us a bit. But that's okay; he flew long enough to have bragging rights among his school chums, something of which he took full advantage, I later learned. Tyler took Mindy's place on the second flight, and he seemed to enjoy the experience, too.
After about an hour, we returned to land; no one was worse for wear and there were smiles all around. Mission accomplished!
What a great experience this was for all of us! I don't know whether this flight or future ones will have any influence on my grandsons now or later in life, but I'm glad I could be the one to take them for their first flight in a small airplane. For me and for them, this was a promise fulfilled, and I suppose I am now not merely Poppy but, in their admiring eyes, a living legend to boot. I couldn't possibly be happier.
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.
You're an awesome grandpa!!!!!ReplyDelete
And you're an awesome friend for saying so, Gordon! Cheers, old chum!Delete
This was absolutely a BLAST!! We are all still talking about what an awesome experience this was. Poppy, you are the best...you are truly an example of fearlessly living life well. You were already a legend to the boys and I know this flight won't be their last. Just know that they aren't the only ones that this experience has influenced!ReplyDelete
How sweet (and well written, Grasshoppah)! I'm so glad everyone had a good time. The secret is--I may have had the best time of all! Love ya, sweetie!Delete
What a great adventure for your family, especially your grand kids. I am sure the first of many flights.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Bill. Yes, it was a fine time for us all. And yes, they are already petitioning me for another ride. And I'm not in the habit of saying no to these two.Delete
That would have been so much fun for the boys, a ride they will never forget. For you too, I'll wager. :)ReplyDelete
Your wager would have won some money, Patsy. 'Poppy' just had the best day!Delete
That will be in their memories forever what and amazing thing you did. My Uncle took me up in a small plane some 60 years ago, and still have vivid memories of that flight. Way to go 'Poppy' .ReplyDelete
Thanks, George! I had a similar experience in my youth that resulted in my finding a great career!Delete
Perfect flight. Awesome memory for all of you. I'm inspired to follow your lead.ReplyDelete
I highly recommend it, Ed. We need to go flying!Delete
What an awesome memory you just created for your beautiful family! That will undoubtedly follow your precious grandsons their entire lives! Congratulations, job well done!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Jackie! It was a great time, for sure.Delete
Absolutely fantastic young man. They will never forget that first flight.ReplyDelete
I think so, too, Barney. I know it was that way for me.Delete
Congratulations! Such a special experience to arrange for them (and for you)!ReplyDelete
Thanks! They're already clamoring to go again, and who am I to say no? Haha!Delete
What a great post Mike! It reminded me of my own first flight in a small plane provided by a wonderful family friend from a small municipal airport in the neighboring community from where we lived. I was so thrilled at the opportunity and can just imagine how wonderful it was for your grandchildren! What a very special day for you all!ReplyDelete
Thank you for your generous comment! I'm glad I could do this for the boys, and I'm guessing this won't be the last of these adventures.Delete
How wonderful that you were able to share your passion with your family, both for you and for them!!!ReplyDelete
Yes, it was a fine day for all of us, Evelyn, and I'm sure there will be more flying in our future. Y'all have fun!Delete
What a wonderful experience and one the boys will always, always remember! What an awesome Poppy you are! The photos of their faces are priceless. DawnReplyDelete
Thanks, Dawn. Poppy will not forget it, either!Delete
Mike, this was such an awesome series! I believe some retirees look at a project that requires additional education, experience or effort and decide that the goal is beyond their capabilities. I admire the way you attacked this process with gusto, and how you were genuinely thrilled to get back to something you had loved (and, obviously, still do) and wanted to share with your growing family. Aviation is, most definitely, not a passion of mine, but I was fascinated by your detailed description of your journey back to the skies. Great posts!ReplyDelete
Thank you for your kind and encouraging comments. Yes, I admit wishing to have the memory and leave the legacy of a real flight, probably more than my family. It's so much different having the actual experience rather than just anecdotes and photos. I was the one who got the most enjoyment, I think.Delete