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Flying With Audrey
December 16, 2007
This was one of the happiest days of my life. Definitely in the top five.
Some background.....my wife doesn't like to fly much, and contrary to what you might believe, I'm perfectly fine with it. By much I mean at all. She's also been very leery of letting either of our kids go flying in the plane. I knew this going in and figured I'd just spend the first 18 years of their lives in the air with them on the ground looking up. When they turned 18, if they wanted to go with Dad they were perfectly OK to do so with Mom's blessing. Once, a couple three years ago, I took Audrey around the pattern one time with Susie's nervous OK, but that flight doesn't really count - it lasted 45 seconds. She couldn't even see over the side of the fuse.
Over the past five years I've probably given rides to 150 people. I've flown completely across the country multiple times - over the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains. I have 1,000+ hrs PIC (most in my RV-6), a big chunk of it in formation. I know every vibration, tic, smell and sensation the plane emits. Call it a five year Phase 1 if you want, but I'm COMPLETELY comfortable giving a family member a ride at this point. There is no funny sound or characteristic of flight that I won't notice immediately - I can give my complete attention to providing a safe and comfortable flight for my passenger.
I guess Susie now thinks that the plane is sufficiently broken in and brought up the topic of taking Audrey flying a few days back. Very welcome news to a guy resigned to waiting six more years. After all, my N-number is her birthday and initials. It's her plane when I'm too old to fly it (if she wants it).
Today Audrey Reeves piloted her plane for 34 minutes. She mastered holding altitude and shallow turns in under sixty seconds. She spends a little time every couple of days 'flying' the hidden flight simulator embedded in GoogleEarth (ctrl-alt-A will launch it). I currently have a Dynon D-10A over on the passenger side, and when I showed her the horizon, altitude and speed strips and climb rate indicators she flew the dang thing like it was on rails. Unbelievable. A 12 yr old raised on video games just 'gets it'. She said it was a LOT easier to fly than the flight simulator.
Danny was out so we briefed before launch and joined up for a couple of minutes on the wing. Audrey literally squealed with joy and I'm sure I have new wrinkles in my cheek from smiling so hard. She had a camera and was busy taking shots and laughing - you can imagine how I feel about my child enjoying both flying and photography. The pictures below in the air are all hers...
Danny broke off and Audrey and I stayed up for another hour. Like I said above, she flew for 34 minutes of that hour. All her. She hand flew 2,500' and 150kts, lining us up nicely for the 45* entry on downwind. You want a powerful moment? Say "you have the airplane" to your child for the first time and hear them reply "I have the airplane" like a seasoned pro. After landing Danny took a picture of us, and Jay and Carol flew in to deliver some Christmas candy and cards - they were out spreading cheer via RV to their many friends at area airports!
Audrey wants to fly, and I'm the proudest parent on the face of the planet right now.
Audrey, your Dad loves you beyond words. And, it was absolutely worth the wait...for me at least (hope for you, too).
Past to Present.
Empennage kit arrives (Dec 1996).
Audrey is about a year and a half here.
Helping me make the spars.
Using the pneumatic cleco remover.
Throwing out paper while inventorying the fuse kit.
Cleaning off the fuse (age 5)
.................fast forward a few years..................
Audrey Reeves - age 12 - 12/16/07. Thirty four minutes of actual stick time today (first 'real' flight).
One flight before lunch. One after. She loved it and asked when we could go again.
Pictures from the day
Various returns from the satellite tracking unit.