Saturday, September 13, 2014

Taking to the Air

My family has always been into aviation.  My dad's job before I was born was flying supplies for gold miners in Alaska, then he went to training to be an air traffic controller and did that (through the big strike in the 80s) until he reached his mandatory retirement age, at which point he went into a few different jobs related to the aviation industry and using his training as an air traffic controller.

He also flew recreationally throughout my childhood, owned (and share-owned) a few different planes, and took us flying occasionally.

My brother got training as a pilot from my dad and more officially in high school, and got his pilot's license at a young age (16?  18?  we talked about this just the other day and I already forget).  He continued on to get his BS in Aviation and all sorts of certifications and qualifications for flying, then went on to become a commercial pilot.  That was short-lived, unfortunately (or fortunately?), as he was one of the first to go in a last-in-first-out layoff.  He went on to get training as an air traffic controller, and took over that legacy in the same facility my dad had worked in (in fact, they both worked there together for a period of time).

While I didn't really get the flying bug (I love the convenience of flying with OTHER people at the helm, but never felt the desire to learn to fly myself), Nathan still got quite a bit of exposure to flying during his formative years.  My dad flew down here to visit him when he was a newborn, so Nathan took his first flight not long after his first car ride, though he slept through it.  He's flown with my dad and brother a few times.  I'll never forget the time my brother let Nathan take the plane off.  I watched, and while my brother's hands were RIGHT THERE next to his yoke, ready to take over, Nathan was the one who actually pulled back to take off.  When he was THREE.

Anyway, my dad recently bought a plane, after not having had one the past few years, and has generously offered his and my brother's time in instructing Nathan, as well as the airplane time, so that when he's old enough (and has had enough instruction and practice, of course), Nathan can take the exam to become a pilot himself.  This is a very generous offer, because it's VERY expensive to rent airplane time and pay for instruction, so there's no way I'd be able to afford it, and Nathan is very interested in it, and of course it's some good "guy time" for him to spend with his grandpa and uncle.

My brother recently got re-certified as an instructor, so any time they spend flying together will be loggable.  My dad has been a certified instructor in the past (and instructed my brother for a lot of his learning hours), but isn't currently certified, so their instruction time will be off the books, but still very beneficial to Nathan, of course.

We drove up to their houses (my dad and brother live about a mile apart) over Labor Day weekend, so Nathan got some ground school instruction from my dad then his first instructional flight that same day.  I was doing something else at the time (I already forget what), so didn't get to overhear the instruction or see the flight lesson, but by all accounts, it went really well.  Then on Monday, he got some more instruction at the kitchen table that I did get to eavesdrop on, and we went to the airport so I could watch him fly, this time with my brother--his first loggable hours as a student pilot.

Here are some photos and a video:

Nathan taking the cover off while my dad checks something out

Dad showing Nathan some things about the engine that after having talked about it in ground school

Gotta check the propellor during pre-fllight for chips, cracks, or dings

Nathan checking the fuel with Eric's instruction

Talking about the engine some more--they're a lot different from car engines!

Nathan gets the left seat.  Eric said it had been a while since he'd sat in the right seat.  (Both have full controls, but usually the pilot sits in the left, and the co-pilot, if any, sits on the right.)

Not sure if that's a thumbs up and a wink, or just squinting in the sun  :-)

I'm pretty sure there aren't actually any controls up there, and Nathan's just messing with the visor, but he looks like a pilot flipping switches or pressing buttons or doing something important, doesn't he?

Video of the takeoff, which Nathan did:

Video of a touch-and-go they did, with Eric doing the landing and Nathan doing the takeoff, but be forwarned that I couldn't see my screen, and therefore the action is off-camera for a good chunk of the landing, and I mostly just got the takeoff:

Video of taxiing back to the hangar, but this was probably Eric...not sure:

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