The venture…

Every pilot has the, ‘it started by…’ to their story. Some took a commercial flight and fell in love with flying. Some stare through the fence at their local airports and wondered. Others may have stared at the skies and watched in amazement as an aircraft cruises overhead.

Mine was a little bit different. Before I go into the details, understand these are different times. I’ll leave it at that until my point is made. I was a young lad, nine or ten years old. Eager to explore. My parents were avid dog show participants. Alaskan Malamutes were the breed they focused on. Me, I had no desire to watch dogs run around in a square nor assist in the hours-long prep of brushing hair, cleaning teeth, and darn near putting makeup on the dogs.

At each show, I’d wander the grounds and explore. Dog shows were held in all sorts of locations. Armories, fairgrounds, schools, convention centers, and a range of other places.

There were a group of kids who would meet at these shows and as the parents did their thing, the kids would do kid things. I didn’t do much of the group activities and tended to roam and explore. At one such show that was held in a big field next to a small airport, I went around to have a look. I’d wandered far enough that I was gawking at the tied-down planes and looking in awe. As I approached a small plane, I think a two-seater, a gentleman asked if I wanted to see inside. What intrigued kid would say no? Not this one! I remember climbing in and looking at what we now call steam gauges and imagined cutting holes in the sky. The obligatory two-handed grasp of the yoke turning it to maximum travel in both directions, pulling and pushing for full deflection of the elevator. If only I’d try that now.

Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."

The hook…

After a few minutes of my airplane sound imitations, the gentleman asked if I wanted to go for a ride. Once again, what curious kid would say no? Off I went into the wild blue yonder on the right seat of this small aircraft. My nose stuck to the window, eyes darting about, just taking it all in. Amazed. We flew over the dog show. I was able to see my parents at the vehicle. I waved in excitement not knowing what was coming when I would tell them of my aerial greeting. At one point I was allowed to ‘fly the plane’. I know now that I wasn’t doing much other than holding a death grip on the yoke while he had the plane trimmed for straight and level flight. 

The flight was short but the impact was long. Dreams were born that day. I still have no idea who he was or even what plane we were in, but the flight is ingrained in my brain. My tail end may have been a little bruised when I told my parents of the exciting day I’d had while out exploring. Yes, I’d gotten into an airplane without their permission, with someone they didn’t know. Didn’t I know how dangerous that was? I still think the good outweighed the bad that day. Smiles from ear to ear, even after the well-deserved alpha charlie.

** To Be Continued **