I’ve experienced this event some years ago (in the 1993) when I attended the last flight of my father that, after 30 years on duty, land and switched off the engines of his Sykorsky SH-3H Navy copter for the last time before his retirement.
Photo © Nicola Melani - SpotIT
It was very exciting both for me and for him: after a life spent flying you know that all your habitual gestures and rituals as a pilot are gone with this last flight ….last time you wear your flight suit, last time you read the flight plan, last time you perform the pre-flight check, last time you hear the noise of your starting engines and so on…
I guess that the things that each pilot will miss most are the gestures and the rituals that have been part of his professional life for so many years and, obviously, the sensation to be in flight with the aircraft/copter completely in his control…
So that day my father took off and after a standard flight of one hour he land and… full stop, finished… an era was simply gone with the last gesture of shutting down the engine 2, folding the main rotor and lastly shutting down the engine 1 !!!
When he reached the pilot dressing room all his colleagues came to celebrate the event bringing with them a special version of the daily flight plan containing all the statistics related to his career :
Total flying hours: 6554
Total nocturnal flying hours: 1341
Total number of landing on a carrier/warship: 697
It was very nice and moving! Since that day he kept his flight suite, the helmet and that flight plan as a precious relic….
Is there anyone else that can tell us what he felt during his last flight as a civilian or militar pilot?
Any contribution will be welcome!