Have you ever wanted to fly? To be in control of an aircraft? My dad, before he took ill several years ago, got this crazy idea. He wanted to learn to fly.
He couldn't get a pilot license for medical reasons, but he heard about this thing called a sport pilot. All you need is your driver's license. Then he started to talk about building a plane. I was thinking that this was one of his many "ideas" that he'd get every so often. Some of them sound pretty neat. Others? Not so neat.
Well, he kept on about this sport pilot thing and wanting to build a plane for several weeks. So, I decided to do some checking. I looked at I don't know how many home-built planes and sites to buy a kit to build one of these things. Then I found a place in Kansas called "Rans." They had kits to build several different planes. So I told him to pack a lunch, cause we were going on a road trip. Mom wasn't too happy about it, but let him go anyway.
We made it to Kansas and found the Rans company. And guess what? Not only did they have kits for airplanes, but they also make bicycles. While we were there, we also found out that they gave demo rides in one of these little planes. Well, Dad was acting like a little kid in a toy store, all smiles and full of questions. His questions were answered, and he got to have some stick time in this fabric covered plane. I thought that once he got his feet back on the ground that would be the end of it, that he would say to hell with it and there was no way that he was going to fly in one of those.
I was wrong.
When they landed, he got out and had the biggest grin I have ever seen. And just like a kid, he said, "YOU HAVE GOT TO TRY THIS!" I had not seen him like this since he bought a motorcycle oh so many years ago. I took the plunge. Got in, strapped in, headphones in place, and away we went. All I'm going to say is HOLY CRAP, what a blast!
We flew around for about 30 minutes and the pilot answered all my questions, then let me have the stick. He wouldn't let me have control of the pedals, but I had the stick! Up, down, left turn, right turn. What a rush. I was hooked.
When we were back on the ground, I don't know who had the bigger smile, me or my dad. We would just look at one another and giggle like little girls. We almost purchased a kit, but I had seen another place in Kansas that had a kit plane made of metal. So we headed on home with these silly smiles still on our faces.
Several weeks later, we packed our bags and headed to Kansas again, all the way across the state. We went to Mexico, Missouri. The company is called "The Zenith Aircraft Company." They have a low-wing plane and a high-wing plane. We both got to go in both of the planes. It was just as exciting. My dad thought that he would like to build a metal kit plane. But first, we needed to find a place that trains sport pilots.
Well, we found one. We signed up for classes. (Mom wasn't too thrilled.) We did ground school, had all of the books, and these real neat headphones with a mic. On the way home after the first class, my dad put on his headset while I was driving and he kept repeating, "Bombardier to pilot! Bombardier to pilot!"
Well, we kept on taking our classes. We both logged a little over 12 hours of flying. Then one day my day said that he wasn't feeling too well, so I went ahead and took my class alone.
The next day, dad went to the doctor because he still wasn't feeling well. He was dizzy. Later that day he found out that he had meniere's disease, which is an inner ear thing that makes you feel dizzy and throws off your balance. So, he dropped out of flying class. I did, too, thinking we'd resume at a later time. He was a bit perturbed at me for stopping, but I told him that this was something that we both started, and that if he could not fly, then it would not be the same.
I still have not gone back to finish. That was the beginning of my dad 's ill health.
I started this post several years ago and never got back to it until now. It kinda hurt to even think about, and I miss him a lot.
I should finish taking these flying lessons and buy the sport plane that he and I decided on. It would be fun, to a degree. And I know that Kathi would like me too also. There are lots of places we could go for what they call a $100 hamburger.
But, there is something missing. I can't explain it or put it into words. Besides, I've aged a few years since he and I started this adventure, and I'm not sure that I'm physically able to.
He has his wings now. And I'm sure he has driven Mom bananas with his whooping and hollering while he does barrel rolls and such.