Jul 05 2008

Special Birthday Gift for Dad

Category: Lessons,RamblingsDaniel @ 12:06 pm

This past Thursday (July 3rd) was my Dad’s birthday.  Rather than get him another shirt, tie, or tool he’ll never use, I decided to take him for a flight – the last time he was in a small aircraft was over 30 years ago!  I had to get more simulated instrument time in anyway, so it helped make for a nice smooth flight for my father.  Although I would be flying with my instructor in the right seat (obviously, I don’t have my license yet), my Dad said he had great views from the back seat.  Actually, this was my first time piloting a C-172 as well (which I wanted to get a few hours logged before I finished my training).  So, all-in-all, this was the perfect opportunity to take my Dad up.

Inside a Cessna 152The flight went very smoothly.  I was a bit more nervous than usual since I’ve never taken anyone flying besides me or my instructor…but the plane and the weather cooperated.  The sky was beautiful (see some pictures), and we even got to fly over my house.  I could feel that the 172 had more power, especially during takeoff.  The added weight and power helped smooth things out a bit as well during cruise.  However, during my final pattern work at the end of the lesson, I could feel that the heavier plane reacts a bit more sluggishly – nothing big, but definitely noticeable.  It took me 1 landing to get used to it, but by the 2nd (and last) landing of the day, I felt comfortable flying the 172’s the Westosha flying club owns.  I’ll still be mostly piloting the 152 (no need to pay extra for empty seats) for the rest of my training, though.  But, I can’t wait to take my Dad back up just me and him!

I was super proud to have flown well for my Dad, and really glad he had a great time.  Happy Birthday!  This lesson I logged 1.0 hours of total flight time, 0.7 hours of simluated instrument.

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3 Responses to “Special Birthday Gift for Dad”

  1. Daniel W. Gandor says:

    When my son, Daniel, told me he had made arrangements with his flight instructor for me to accompany them on one of his training flights, I was ecstatic about the opportunity. I couldn’t imagine a more memorable way to celebrate my 55th birthday. But when the morning of July 3 rolled around and I began the long drive from Chicago to Volo where my son lives, a certain childhood apprehension of mine regarding small aircraft began to set in. “Am I sure I want to be doing this?”, I asked myself. Fortunately, my expectations outweighed my fears, and I was resolved that in just a few hours we would be navigating the sky together.

    We arrived at the Westosha airport at about 10:30am on a cool and breezy morning. Daniel showed me the plane he routinely trains in (a Cessna-152), as well as the four-seater we would be flying in that day (a Cessna-172). Both planes were much smaller than I had imagined, and the metal skins on them seemed very thin. Once again, fear began to creep in (as well as some regret at having eaten a Big Mac for breakfast). But when Daniel walked me through a pre-flight inspection of one of the craft, and showed me the various parts of the plane and how each functions, reason began to triumph over fear once again.

    After touring the main flight office and being introduced to his instructor, I climbed into the back seat of the C-172 (with some difficulty), belted myself in, put on my headphones (so we could communicate with one another in the cockpit), and listened as Daniel and his instructor went over a final instrument check. My son has already flown solo a number of times, and I’m simply amazed at how quickly he has acquired all the knowledge needed to successfully fly a plane. Smart kid….and gutsy too! I heard the engine and propeller rev up slightly, and then the plane began to taxi into position for take off. Daniel pulled the throttle back and the rumbling of the tires on the runway could be heard and felt as we accelerated forward. No turning back now! I waited to feel the moment when we would lift off from the tarmac, but surprisingly it was almost imperceptive. I looked out the window and below me were the tops of trees, and homes, and roads. Wow…we were airborne!!

    Daniel took the plane up to approximately 5,500 feet. We were above the clouds at this point, and the entire ascent was incredibly smooth….very unlike my harrowing experience from 35 years ago. I felt remarkably relaxed. I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that only 100 years ago, virtually no human being alive on the planet could have had the view which was before my own eyes at this very moment. Lakes in the distance, open fields and farmlands, the monumental expanse of the Lake Michigan shoreline from Racine to Chicago, the curve of the distant horizon. What a sight! Who could have imagined that 55 years from the very day I was born, my son would be carrying me up into the sky and opening my eyes to all these spectacular vistas. There are very few moments in a man’s life which can be considered “defining moments”, but sharing this time and place with my son, brought about by his own hands and initiative, clearly tops the list. I am so incredibly proud of him!

    We flew for about an hour; perhaps the fastest hour I’ve ever enjoyed in my life. My eyes were constantly riveted out the windows, taking in all the aerial views. At one point, I removed my headphones just to listen to the sound inside the cockpit. The hum of the propeller was remarkably loud. Every now and then one could feel the plane being slighlty buffeted by the wind. I imagine this was flying as the early pioneers of aviation must have known it. In a single prop plane, you truly get the sense of navigating through the earth’s atmosphere, rather than just blasting through it as in a jet. To anyone whose only exposure to flying has been on commercial airliners, put this first on your To-Do list before you die. It’s beyond words and description. It’s absolutely exhilerating!

    As with all good things, the end must inevitably come and our hour was nearly up. Daniel slowly began his descent and headed back toward the airstrip. He banked the plane and began his final approach toward the runway. The trees were almost at eye level now and with a light thud, you could feel the wheels touch the ground…we were home! Daniel actually took the plane up one more time for a brief circling around the airport and repeated his landing. Even though this was the first time he had flown the larger C-172, with the added 185 pounds I added to it, both landings were incredibly smooth and quite. No question about it…this kid is a natural pilot! After refueling the plane, he returned it to it’s mooring spot and soon joined me again in the flight office.

    After he finished off some paper work with his instructor, we both walked back to the car together, each of us recounting our own experiences of the flight. At one point I glanced up at the clouds in the sky and couldn’t believe that just a few minutes earler, my son and I were up there flying among them. What a miracle! What an incredible way to have spent the morning! What an incredible gift my son had given me by making this the most perfect birthday of my life!

  2. Finishing my Simulated Instrument Time (IFR Hood) | Dan's Pilot Times says:

    […] was pretty uneventful flight…but this time I took my wife, Lisa, along for the lesson. Like flying with my Dad a few weeks ago, it was a lot of fun and filled me with a lot of pride to take another one of my loved ones with me […]

  3. Dad’s Birthday 2009 | Dan's Pilot Times says:

    […] 3rd is my Dad’s birthday. Like last year, we went flying to celebrate his special day. Unlike last year, now I have my license and was able […]

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