On the spur of the moment this afternoon, I flew to Turners Falls with George and his son Chris. George flew in the back, his medical had lapsed. Chris flew in the right seat. I did the take offs and landings from the left seat, and Chris did the rest. On his first flight ever, he held altitude to within a couple hundred feet and held heading with landmarks pinned to the windscreen, all with only the most modest coaching from me. Quite amazing.
George made the occasional comment to his son from the back. “You are near an airport now, so you want to keep a good look out for other planes.” Gosh, I thought, that sounds like a good idea. “You are a little high, watch your altitude.” Gosh, I thought, I should have noticed that. “See how much faster we are flying home with the wind at our backs?” Gosh, I thought, we really are moving faster inbound than outbound. But this flight wasn’t about me, of course. What I think I was watching was a father’s joy experiencing his own passion with his son, and a father’s pride watching his confident son grow increasingly comfortable and in control as the miles went by. I hoped for the same kinds of experiences with my own son in another decade.
We landed at Turners Falls and discovered another father-son experience. The airport operator was in the FBO working on a preheater of his own invention. The preheater had a pair of flexible tubes bending up and forward from the burner to warm an airplane’s engine via both air inlets at once. He struck the spark, and a momentary flame protruded from the nearest tube, a fire-breathing dragon with flames leaping from its nostril. As we talked about his creation, he started talking about the airport, and his own son running the maintenance shop in an adjacent hanger.
I drove home in the dark and found my own son, nearly ten years younger than Chris, ready and raring to go. He beamed with pride as he held up for me to see his first pair of ice skates. I told him over dinner about flying with Chris. “Awwww, I want to go.” And you shall, my son, some day, just like Chris.
Way to go, Chris, I’ll fly with you any day.