Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Flying High - Well, about 500 feet anyway

I haven't flown a lot in my life. A few trips up in small planes with the family just for fun and some long commercial flights while I served in the military. The small planes were by far the most fun.

I remember once when we went up in a little private plane for a spin around town. My wife and I knew there was an element of danger so we usually flew separately so one of us would survive in the event of a crash to take care of the other children. It sounds morbid but we thought of it as the practical thing to do and it took nothing from our fun.

Our daughter was not yet a teenager and she was totally fascinated by the flight. We were looking out the windows and trying to spot various landmarks. She looked out some but her biggest fascination was with the controls. She watched the pilot move the wheel around and then she watched the one in front of her respond. Once she could not help herself and reached toward the wheel. Being a well-disciplined child, she immediately pulled her hand back and looked apologetically at the pilot. He was a great guy and told her "Go ahead take the controls." And she did. It was a great thrill for her.

Once when I was much younger, I went up with my brother who was learning to fly. Back then, all you had to do was drag a can of gas to the airport and give the owner a few bucks and he would teach you to fly. My brother had had a number of lessons but had not yet soloed. The owner of the plane was going to supper and my brother was very disappointed. The owner told him "Go ahead and take it up, you can fly it, you just like to have somebody sitting behind you. Take your brother with you." And so he did. We flew around for quite a while. The landing was a little rocky. I think we tried it a few times before actually landing. I got to take the stick for a minute and do a wing dip or two. It was fun. I had a thought while we were up high enough for the trees to look like hedge bushes. "Isn't this illegal?" I asked. "Won't we get in trouble if we crash?" He replied: "If we are high enough it won't matter, If we are low enough we won't tell anyone." I thought that was pretty sound reasoning, so I forgot about the issue.

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