Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Honorary Blogger

Travis got a chance to take his 4-year-old son up yesterday for his first flight. Since I wasn't there and he tells a pretty good story, I'll let him share with you! Enjoy my first guest host:

I got to take a quick 30 minute flight with my 4 yr old son today after work. He's been wanting to go with Daddy on a flight for a very long time, but we had to wait until he was big enough to actually be strapped in!

Last week, after my flight, I was able to hang my parachute bag on the halo bar rather than buckle it into the back seat since I have my enclosed trailer now. That finally gave me a chance to try my sons booster seat out in my plane to see how well it would work, how well he would fit and how safely I could buckle him in. I put his seat in the plane last weekend and then let him see it. He was thrilled and couldn't stop for anyone that's never met my son, he giggles uncontrollably whenever he gets excited about something. It's an 'Andrew trademark' and he's always been like that. He got into the trailer and I lifted him up into his seat, him giggling the whole time. I was able to strap him in, put the headset on him and there was no way he was falling out unless he unbuckled himself. Of course, when it was time to get out, he had already figured out how to open his seatbelt. We had a long talk then about how he should never unbuckle that belt unless I tell him to. He assured me he understood. Over the past week, I've kept reminding him how important that is.

Ever since I put him in the plane, he's kept asking me 'are we flying in the morning daddy?' and 'When do we get to fly?' Of course the weather hasn't been good enough for that first kid flight.

Today, the weather was finally good enough. Clear skies, warm, calm winds and even the airport traffic was on my side. Only one plane landed right before I took off and I never heard another radio call from other planes (at least at our airport) or saw another plane take off or land the whole time we were out. We got to the airport around 5 pm and the site we usually park / access our field from was in use for some new toll testing program they are running on our road. I went ahead and went around to the side of the airport with the fixed wing and parked in our backup spot. I unloaded, got everything ready and finally was ready to taxi to the field. I put Andrew's booster seat into the plane and buckled him in, again with him giggling the whole time.

I started the plane and let it warm up for a minute before taxiing to the field. He was excited just to be riding in the plane, but I used this time to go over how he had to keep talking to me, answer questions and etc so that I knew he was okay when we were flying. I told him if he got quiet in the air, we would land in case he wasn't enjoying it. I also told him that if he ever got scared, let me know and we would land.

I finished warming the plane in the field and then laid out the chute. My wife had come with us (and brought our 5 month old daughter) so that she could see his first flight. She took photos of us during this whole process and then captured video of our take off and I think she got part of the landing. I landed in a different place than I took off due to the wind changing directions, so she wasn't close by when I landed. After getting everything laid out, it was one more round of photos and she gave the camera to me so I could get his photo during the flight.

After the one plane landed and cleared the taxi way (I used the grass between the runway and taxi way for takeoff), I checked for other planes, made my radio call and then applied power. I didn’t give as much power as I usually do because I didn’t want to risk a wheelie, so my chute was a little sluggish coming up, but I applied more power and it popped right overhead. It was centered quickly and I asked Andrew if he was ready and I got an excited, ‘YES!’ so off we went. I could hear him giggling and asked him if he was okay. He again responded ‘YES!’ and I continued my climb until I was at 500 ft and turned crosswind, downwind, base and then did a low pass over the runway so that he could wave to mommy (she needed to know he was having fun!) and then we left the pattern.

On the way to the airport, I asked him if he wanted to see the top of a water tower we passed. He excitedly said yes, so that was our first goal. We flew to the water tower and pointed out things to me the whole way there such as water, a ski lake, cows and people. I asked him if he wanted to see the lake next and he did, so that was our next ‘stop’. While we were flying, he kept hearing other people on the radio for other airports that use the same frequency. He wanted to know who was talking, so I had to explain to him why we were all making those radio calls. It was one of those ‘cute surprise’ moments when he heard someone that wasn’t in our plane talking!

We continued flying and chatting. I asked him about 15 minutes in if he was ready to go back and he very quickly responded, “NO!” so I went north a little further before turning back toward the airport. I finally told him we had to go back because mommy was waiting with the baby, but that I’d bring him again sometime soon for a longer flight.

I entered the pattern and began making all my radio calls. We entered downwind for 35 and I noticed that the wind had shifted, so I made a short downwind and turned straight into a final in the field we usually use which is West of the runway. The landing was very smooth and the flight ended perfectly.

My wife walked over to us and before she could ask, I quickly said, “He DID NOT like flying!” and Andrew quickly replied, “I LOVED IT!”. The kid is hooked and I’m happy to have this to share with him. It’s one of those moments I will remember forever.

For the rest of the evening, he kept asking me questions like ‘Why didn’t we fly by our house?’ (which is something I usually do so he can see me if we get a chance to fly West) and ‘When do we get to fly again?’ and ‘Will Mr. Jack fly with us next time?’ I could tell when he went to bed that he was still beaming from the flight.

Getting Buckled In

All Buckled In

Ready to Go!


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