When I left for the office on a recent Friday, my oldest daughter, 13-year-old Savannah, gave me an extra tight hug. She knew I would be out at Pierce County Airport (PLU) in the late morning to regain my currency so I could take her… and myself… flying. She was very excited.
The last logged pilot-in-command time in my logbook dates to September 2002. Like many pilots, life got busy. Savannah was 3, at the time, Brenna (my youngest daughter) was barely 2, and Jack was still three years from joining the family. I don’t need to dive into the reasons why flying got pushed to the side. We’ve all heard, and many have experienced, the reasons.
Sadly, it was losing my Dad in 2011 that pushed me to get back to flying… to make the time. So, about a year after Dad took his final flight, I dusted off the books, fired up the computer and started reviewing much of what I’d forgotten. Holy smokes, there is a lot to this flying thing. Too much, to be honest. But that’s fodder for another post — or two.
General Aviation News reporter and flight instructor Meg Godlewski assisted with the ground portion of my flight review. She connected me with Kevin Nelsen, a local jack-of-all-trades pilot and instructor to work with me in a J-3 Cub. Both performed exactly as I had hoped — the proper amount of encouragement with a healthy dose of reality and responsibility.
As I drove home from the airport, with a big smile on my face, the sky looked different to me. Better. More inviting. When I arrived home, I was met by Savannah and greeted with another big hug. What father doesn’t cherish a hug from his daughter?
The next day, Savannah asked if I could take her flying on her birthday. “Let me see what I can do,” was my response. Schedules — hers, mine, the family’s, the business, as well as the plane’s — all have to be in balance.
Sunday morning, I went up to Savannah’s room and said, “the weather looks pretty good, what do you say to going today after church?” YES!!!
I must say, I was impressed. I expected her to be a bit more antsy at church. She remained calm, at least outwardly.
Before bed, Savannah came up to me, hugged me and said, “Thank you.” What a feeling…
My wife, Deb, told me that while Savannah and I were out flying, Brenna and Jack starting “arguing” about who got to go flying next. I could get used to this…
One day shy of three weeks after taking Savannah for a ride, Brenna made her way to the airport. After a post-maintenance hop with Cub owner Jeff Rounce, Brenna hopped in the front seat and off we went.
Like Savannah’s ride, I kept it short. About 30 minutes. We flew over the house I grew up in, looked at Mt. Rainier a bit and I let her take the stick. She was grinning from takeoff to touchdown and for about an hour on either side.
On the way home, Brenna asked more about my history as a pilot. What a great conversation. I see at least two budding pilots in my future. Next up… Jack.