The young lady in the photo is my oldest daughter, Savannah. An hour before I snapped this picture, she thought we were driving five hours to Spokane for a little father-daughter bonding at last month’s AOPA Fly-In. Nope.
Friend, General Aviation News columnist and Cirrus Sales Director Ivy McIver happily stuffed myself and Cirrus’ Director of Flight Operations Travis Klumb in the back seat of her SR-22T and took off for Spokane’s Felts Field (KSFF) for the fly-in.
Savannah wasn’t raised in an airplane as I was. But she has been flying with me several times in our friend’s J-3 Cub… and has loved every minute of it. But this experience was different. Very different.
For starters, Ivy is wicked-smart (MIT doesn’t just hand out degrees), a great pilot and a strong (in all ways) woman. You know… someone Savannah can look up to. Oh, and an SR-22T is no J-3 Cub.
About 20 minutes into the 90-minute flight, Ivy turned to Savannah and said, “Your plane.”
She then proceeded to talk Savannah through how to disengage the autopilot and hand fly at 11,000 feet on an IFR flight plan. Within moments, Savannah held altitude and heading very smoothly. So well in fact, that Travis, sitting behind Savannah, asked if the autopilot had been re-engaged.
“Do you play a lot of video games?” Ivy asked Savannah. “No,” came a quiet reply.
“Hmmm. Well you are spot on, good job.”
Both Ivy and Travis were complimentary of her flying. I couldn’t have been prouder.
Savannah just beamed for the rest of the day.
Over dinner that evening, I laid it out. “If you truly want to learn to fly, we’ll make it happen. But you have to seek it out. I can’t make you want to learn. You have to go get it.”
At 15, she’s already far smarter than me (and I’m only kind of joking). She’s very focused on school, has a few other consuming interests, and is a quiet and rather shy soul.
Whenever I — or Ivy, for that matter — bragged up her flight to someone at the fly-in, she’d smile but also shrink a little at the attention. I know being gregarious is not a requirement to be a pilot, thankfully. With Savannah’s smarts, I feel that learning flying’s many nuances will come fairly easy to her.
And as much as I enjoy flying, I rather enjoy sitting in back and letting someone else do the heavy lifting.
I can’t wait until she taps me on the shoulder and says, “Dad, I’m ready.”