Saturday, October 11, 2008

up in the air

pooka and i had the rare opportunity today to pilot a small airplane. my boss's boss has a beechcraft sundowner in which he graciously offered to let us fly.

we met him at plymouth airport and spent some time learning about the machine and how to fly it. pooka seemed genuinely interested and learned some factoids. she was in the co-pilot's seat for the first trip and as soon as we reached a stable altitude, jim let her take the yoke on the way to fly over our house. she did a good job of staying straight, turning, and keeping us from plummeting to the earth in a fiery wreck. not bad for a 6 year old's maiden flight. especially since she couldn't hear jim's instructions. we found out later that her headset wasn't picking up communication inside the plane, only the chatter from other craft. that also explains why she said not a single word the whole trip. jim thought she was terrified, particularly when she refused to give up control when he took over. i thought she might have been scared, too, but i figured it was due more to concentration.

i got a little nauseous up there. between the heat in the plane (who said it gets cold up there?), the turbulence, and trying to locate the house while jim was circling repeatedly, i nearly lost it. not until leaving the airport did i find out that pooka felt a little sick, too. she hid it better than i did, though. i was dripping with sweat.

we arrived back at the airport and did a switcheroo so that i could take my turn at piloting. honestly, i wasn't sure i wanted to endure another trip, but i didn't think i should send ragan up by herself on just her second flight. but i calmed down after a few minutes and we headed for the house again since pooka didn't hear me point it out the first time.

this time, i took the plane all the way to our neighborhood, where i gave up control in order to pinpoint the house. you know, it's awfully difficult to identify things from up in the air. most buildings look the same. you have to use landmarks like water, or freeways, or in our case football fields to get your bearings. it was a lot harder than i thought it would be. and finding the airport? forget it. i'm amazed at pilots who could do that, at night no less, before gps.

i got queasy again on the second trip, worse this time because i hadn't completely recovered from the first bout. i just sat there thinking, "if you puke in his plane, he will fire you." that helped.

when we got home kisu said that he and buggy saw us and waved on our first pass. the whole thing took about an hour, and pooka enjoyed it despite the nausea. she has been so fortunate to have such a wide variety of opportunities in her young life.