The 11-year itch…scratched

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.

Touch&GoSuffice it to say, she was ready in flash and was excited to get in the air. The picture above says it all.

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.

8565673889_10b9932bdcLike 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.

Top Photo: Ben Sclair flying in a J-3 Cub with Jeff Rounce, owner of the Cub.


  1. Randee Laskewitz says

    Great Story, Ben. I’m so happy for you and your family. The awesome views of Mt. Rainier and the beautiful Pacific Northwest are worth getting up in the air to see. Love your articles and your publications.

  2. says

    Way to go Ben! Good to see you are back in the saddle and in a Cub no less – kudos indeed!
    That’s really cool you have access to such an iconic machine.
    I can’t wait to hear more stories from the J-3.

  3. David Duganne says

    Ben, congratulations on regaining your currency. Once a pilot, always a pilot. Kudos to Mr. Rounce for sharing his wonderful “time machine” with you and your family.
    I acquired my love for aviation from my dear Dad who passed away in September. I had never looked at his logbooks before, but I found the entry when he took me for my first plane ride, when I was about a year and a half old. It was in a ’46 J-3. I love reading stories like yours, because Cubs have been an integral part of so many people’s aviation experience…

  4. says

    Thanks for this ! I’m right there with you in getting the kiddos exposed to the world aviation and fun flying. This weekend I’m taking our eight year old little girl and her friends to hangout at EAA40’s pancake breakfast and checkout the planes and the aviation explorers post members at Whiteman Airport KWHP here in the LA area. Great stuff !
    Terry Broadbent

  5. Ardie Herbel says

    Ben, I am so glad you are flying again. My oldest grandson is a pilot and flying is just so in his blood. My Christmas present from him a few years ago was to fly to a nearby town for lunch. It was my first time to fly with him and it was just the thrill of my life. Now he is a pilot back East for a regional airline for Delta. I will never forget that little flight with him. Neither will your kids forget those times in the air with you.

  6. says

    Nice Ben! Had a business trip into MKE the other day and we had the long low run in over the lake. Took me back to my Navy flying days. Texted the 7 & 9 year old boys and told them so and that I couldn’t wait until I could take each of them flying for the first time with me. Passing the torch!

  7. Krista Morisen says

    Have you considered joining Civil Air Patrol both for you to fly and Brenna to get some time in the plane?

    By the way, I loved the post. :)

  8. Ken says

    Well great Post.
    I also haven’t been flying since 2001. Recently my friend, Airline pilot & Airport owner has acquired 2 beautiful J-3 C65 Cubs.
    Seems I gave him his first ride in a plane my J-3 C85 Cub back in the 1980’s.
    He has been after me for 3 years to come and fly his Cubs!!!
    Well my grandchildren are now 11 & 13 as well as a great granddaughter 9.
    I decided to take him up on it and in January 2013 I flew one of his J-3 C65 Cubs. Got my Biannual out of the way and have been doing TO&L so I can take my grand children up for their first flight!!! Nothing better than a flight in a J-3 for a first ride!!!
    I will be taking photos for sure.
    What a great thing to be able to share at age 70!!!!

  9. says

    Ben, you lucky dog. I didn’t get a chance to take my boys up flying. I was too busy trying to get rich. Well, I screwd up royally, I am not rich, and my boys missed out big time. What a shame.

    I am mending the fences, though. Last December I took my Grandson up on the day of his fourth birthday. It was on his request. Theoren has been flying simulators on his Grandpa’s lap since he was two. Like Savanna’s, his grin says it all. Here is a link to the day of our lives.

    • says

      Thanks Ben, Thanks Ed, Love you site and the story of Theoren. Keep up the enthusiasm!
      Off to EAA40’s pancake Breakfast this morning at Whiteman… for the kids.

  10. Rex Cox says

    so happy for the kids n Savannah wantin to go up with her Dad,,I sure remember those days with my dad also..always a golden time kids wantin a piece of aviation at its best..

  11. Mary Shortridge says

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! Way to go, and thanks for sharing the joy with your children, and all your future passengers. Blue skies!

  12. says

    What a great post Ben. The last few weeks have been filled with great stories and videos of kids going for there first flights and I love seeing the joy and enthusiasm in all of them. This is a special story as it shares what it is like for the father on that first flight. My kids are two and a half and I can’t wait for that first flight!

  13. Jeff says

    Indeed, flying is a “family affair” — obvious with the Sclair clan — as it has been with mine. How about your’s? Thanks for sharing, Ben.

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