Flying with Abby

(This was written, but never posted several years ago)

My eight year-old daughter has been my biggest fan in regards to learning how to fly. She helps me study, goes out to the field to watch planes land, and is always asking me questions about airplanes. She will be one heck of a pilot by the time she gets old enough to start flying.

A few weeks ago I decided to treat her to a flying date like I did with my wife. So I set it up with my instructor and we decided to meet at 9 am. We were going to be flying the same 172 I took my wife in so I would have some, though still limited experience with it.

We got to the hangar at 8 am after a very light breakfast so I could do a thorough preflight and fuel if needed. I also wanted to get in the airplane and go through some of my checklist and familiarize myself with the cockpit.

I had printed off a copy of the passenger briefing from one of the links on checkride.com and here I learned a valuable lesson. Don’t give the emergency portion of the briefing to your 8 year-old, they seem to dwell on the part about the crew being unconscious.

Before we took off I explained to her that we would hear lots of other airplanes talking and that if she either heard talking in her headset or if I raised my finger in the air I needed her to stop talking right away since it could be another airplane talking to us in order to keep us safe. I told her I would answer her questions as soon as I could. I also told her than during take-off and landing we would need to be silent so I could concentrate on getting us down safely.

With kids you never know how they will react in a small plane. Abby had been in several airliners and even flew with in a helicopter during a Big Horn Sheep rescue mission in Oregon. I was knew she would be excited- but I was also ready for any possibility of airsickness. Having Melissa in the back where she could manage all this was paramount. After take-off we hit some light turbulence and Abby admitted that her belly did some flops. I assured her we would be out of it soon and to look outside and even between Jeff and I if she needed to.

We flew over areas her and I like to hunt and off-road in. She was even able to pick out a peak her and I often hunt.

We only stayed in the air about 40 minutes and did a touch and go. After the landing she told me I need to work on my landings. I have to admit- not only switching from the 152 over to the 172 is a challenge for me at this point but so is landing an aircraft full of people.

Afterwards we headed for the café to feast on airplane shaped pancakes. It was a great experience for all and I really appreciate my instructor letting me include my family.

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