Thursday, April 25, 2013

First Solo Flight

The old maxim goes that we never forget our ‘firsts’ … whether first loves or first parachute jumps or first solo flights, the ‘firsts’ stay with us always.

I don’t have a picture of myself after my own first solo flight but I don’t need a picture to remember every minute of it or recall how it felt (a little burble of wind on the crosswind leg of my second touch and go was my decision point: To go on or not to go on. I kept going after a brief conversation with God and never looked back.)

Daughter Peyton was the first in the next generation to fly. She had a handicap – I was her instructor. It got so at one point that I had to put on an actual hat when I was the instructor. When the hat came off I was Daddy again. I learned from that – maybe it’s OK to solo your kid, but leave the rest of it to a third party. She made it through the Private Pilot license and enjoyed deflating egos by pulling out her certificate when the boys in the Auburn flight program were trying to impress her at parties with their student pilot prowess.
Peyton solo 1-30-86 John 3-22-88
Son John was next. He soloed on his 16th birthday before he could drive a car. After a couple of trips around the flight pattern that morning, we went to the FAA medical examiner for his medical (which doubled as a student pilot license) and back home where he watched “Top Gun” a couple of times. Later in the afternoon when the wind died down we were back at the airport where he slipped the surly bonds of earth for his three takeoffs and landings. He went on to earn an Airline Transport Pilot certificate and now flies corporate jets all over the world.
George first solo-1
Now it’s Grandson George’s turn. 42 years, almost to the day, after my own first solo. The way he approached it was a little different from the others … his instructor had signed him off for solo a couple of days before but he wanted to wait until his family could be there to watch. Peyton loved it. The Kamikaze headband adds a touch. Plans for the future? Who knows? The flying bug bites some of us deeper than others but the accomplishment remains forever an outstanding event in our lives.