I had been thinking about it for a long time, but today I finally took my son Jonathan out to our local airfield to get a feel for what it is all about.
This "AIRPLANE THING" was probably something I have been keeping for myself all these years since I was lucky enough to grow up close (meaning a 10min. bicycle-ride) to an airport where I could enjoy seeing, hearing and smelling various planes doing their "stuff". (and it is hard to share it by talking about it, it needs to be "felt")
It was more than 40+ years ago that I sniveled and begged some pilots to give me a ride whenever I noticed somebody giving their plane a pre-flight check and I got lucky most of the times, usually followed by cleaning windshields or polishing their airplanes as a payment for the rides.
-Now I felt the time was right to let Jonathan find the difference between "sport" and "transport".
Today was the last day of his week-long fall holiday, mostly spent playing computer-games or watching TV
, and for a city-boy it was always too much of an effort to get out and do anything.
Having a rare day off I said "Let's take a car-ride" and we ended up at Kjeller (ENKJ) , walked in to one of the local flying-club offices and I asked if anyone would take the kid up for a ride. After all, it was a nice day for flying with no clouds and no wind. One of the guys there seemed interested, asked if we wanted a "flightseeing" trip or something else. -Replying that if maybe a couple of stalls, a roll or two, maybe a loop or a spin could be accomplished, the guy gets up with a glimmer in his eyes, introduces himself as one of the instructors, shakes our hands and tells us it would take him about 1/2 hour to get ready.
Following him out to the hangar, we see a little white beauty, a French-made Mudry CAP 10B.
-I got the feeling that junior would get a better ride than any amusement park could offer...
After pre-flighting the plane, the instructor pulls out a parachute and fits it on Jonathan, explaining that it is standard equipment in an aerobatic plane, but the chances of having to use it are almost nil. After having the 'chute fitted, Jonathan walked a bit funny, -why are people wearing parachutes always doing that?
He helps junior strap on the belts, -a 6-point harness like I used when driving Formula Fords, gets his own 'chute on, straps himself in, starts the engine, closes the canopy and off they go for the engine run-up.
-There I was, standing left behind, seeing my first-born child sitting in a plane with a parachute strapped on his back.... and they taxi out on the runway and are gone.
In the 1/2 hour they are away I smoked 3 cigarettes while sitting on a rock close to the runway, finally I see a little speck growing larger, It's THEM !
After the plane had landed and taxied in, Jonathan gets out, gets the 'chute off and walks over to me...
-The grin on his face was priceless... driving home he could not stop talking about the spin, the roll and the loops they made, he even got to try the stick and and the pedals.
Before he went to bed tonite he said: "Thanks Dad"