When dad trained me how to drive a car, one thing he would say was, “Pretend I have a hot cup of coffee in my hand, and don’t spill it.” With those words of wisdom, I always considered my passengers and tried to give them as smooth of a ride as possible.
Likewise in the airplane, while training with David Pflum, he would mention something along the same lines about making sure passengers had a comfortable ride. Of course, he joked that I might scare passengers with all the moaning and groaning I did during landings, but the fact remained… as the pilot-in-command, it is our duty to provide a smooth ride for our passengers.
As a new student pilot with a hair-trigger puke reflex, David always tried to make sure I had a smooth ride by warning me of all the invisible air-bumps during our lessons. And after achieving my Private Pilot’s license, I now have a pretty good idea where and when to expect them.
Primed with this information, I took a nervous friend up for his first airplane ride in over 30 years. I can’t tell you if he was nervous about the ride itself or that I would be the pilot-in-command rather than Kurt, but as he cried about needing a Valium to go for a ride, we preflighted Roxy for takeoff.
There’s nothing like a little peer pressure to get someone going, and knowing our friend had been wanting to go for an airplane ride for years, Kurt said, “You can stay here if you want to, but we are going to take her out for a spin.”
As you might have guessed, our friend had ridden with us to the airport so his choices were either wait at the airport in 90-degree heat, or go for an airplane ride. Running high on courage, he tucked himself into the co-pilot seat and nervously readied for takeoff.
Honestly, I don’t know if he was typing out his will, or saying goodbye to loved ones on his phone while we taxied out to runway 27, but as the wheels left the ground, he nearly imprinted his fingers into the dashboard of the plane… and if butt cheeks could make lasting clench marks, the seats would have had indentations to match!
As the airplane climbed into the air, I smiled and said, “Isn’t that the coolest thing you have ever experienced?”
“Uhhh… yeah,” he muttered, still clenching.
As we neared the edge of Houghton Lake I thought of David reminding me of those invisible bumps and warned, “There’s going to be a little bump as we go over the edge of the lake.”
A few seconds later, the bumps rattled Roxy’s hull and then we were enjoying the smooth air over the water’s surface, viewing hundreds of boats congregated in celebration of the 4th of July. Relaxing a bit by the view, and trusting that I had some magical ability to warn him of all invisible bumps, our friend finally eased his death grip on the dash and enjoyed the ride.
On the way home from the airport, our friend relived every moment of his experience with tears of joy in his eyes, and has since bragged about his amazing first flight with me. I have to say, I feel kind of cool being compared to late racing legend, Dale Earnhardt, for my ability to, “see the air.” But without David’s training, I would’ve never thought to warn him about those invisible bumps.
In the end, it’s all about sharing the experience. Kevin Spaulding had said exactly that after my check-ride, and he was absolutely right. We are a rare faction with an even rarer gift. We know how to fly, and can share that gift with others. Although I’m fairly certain our friend won’t be signing up for flying lessons anytime soon, it doesn’t mean his son wouldn’t be turned on to flying some day just because of his Dad’s cool experience.
Everyone has a gift. What gifts have you shared lately? Tell us about it by submitting a comment below.
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