As a growing boy, back in what was then Czechoslovakia, I was always dreaming of flying. It took many years before I realized my dream, and another forty years before I got my first plane. There are things in life I would not even dare to dream – and then it just happens. This year my Christmas present came a bit early. In fact, it was December the 6th when I got it. If I did not have a well-documented proof, I would think it was just a dream; but I am getting a bit ahead of myself here.
When my boys were growing up, I was too busy trying to get rich. What I did not realize then was that being rich does not have to involve money – not at all. To be close to you children tops money any time. God knows I tried, but I failed. I desperately wanted my boys to like planes. I tried to introduce them to building models. Unfortunately, the perfectionist in me would take over. I just had to fix their perfectly fine creations. In doing so, and without ever realizing my mistake, I permanently extinguished their possible flicker of interest in aviation. I lost an excellent opportunity to nurture my love of flying in my boys. If I had just remembered how crude my first models turned out when I was their age, the outcome could have been different.
Now that I am a grandfather, life gave me an incredible gift – another chance of sort. My grandson Theoren, in his very early age, I think he may have been less than two years old, started to point to planes flying overhead. He did not miss even one. Then one day I sat him on my knee and fired up my RC simulator. Theoren would fly the left stick, while Grandpa would try to keep the model upright with the right stick. Theoren would fly the simulator for hours, that is if I could endure it. Whenever we have a Grandpa/Theoren day, it is always his first request when I ask him what he would like to do.
There is no doubt that Theoren is interested in planes. One summer day we took him to the airport, I was flying DA-20s then from Sea Land Air. Theoren knew instantly where the master switch was. We had a hard time getting him out of the plane. Only when I pointed out some other planes to him, he reluctantly climbed out to go investigate. The day was nice and the “tire kicking” lasted at least an hour. I knew right there that we had a pilot in making.
Fast-forward two years.
Sunday, December the 2nd, I got en email from Theoren’s mom. It was coming up on to his fourth birthday, and he requested as his birthday present to go flying with Grandpa in Grandpa’s “big plane.” It must have been tough on mom and dad to even consider it, but as his mom put it: “he is a very persuasive little fellow.”
The weather was not great on the morning of his birthday. It was raining all morning, but then around noon we got a break. It seemed like due to some divined intervention the rain stopped, the clouds parted, and other than some stiff wind, the weather started to cooperate. It was clear; Theoren would get his birthday present.
My little co-pilot, as I explained to him step-by-step the start-up procedures, followed my actions with focus and concentration. After flying Microsoft Flight Simulator for some time now, things must have look familiar to him. After our takeoff, he immediately pointed out the ocean to me. I did not realize it then, but it down on me later, that his favorite plane on the MS simulator is a Beaver on floats, which he flies from the Friday Harbor seaport.
Night before the big day, Theoren’s mom slaved late to the night on his birthday cake, which of course had to look like Grandpa’s “big plane,” complete with the proper registration markings. As I reflect on this amazing day, it occurred to me that Theoren is the first family member who had flown with me in my “new” plane.
When I first bought my Colt, I knew that a 1961 vintage plane would need some tender loving care before I would consider it up to my standard. The measure of my standard was a simple question. Is it safe enough to take my grandchildren up in it? It clearly is.
As much as I felt competent to do the flight as a pilot, and knowing that my plane is safe, I am very grateful to Theoren’s mom and dad for giving me this early, unbelievable, Christmas gift. Judging from Theoren’s grins, we both had an unforgettable day. Thank you Morgan and Geof.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and may the soon to be here 2013 keep you in good health, bless you with happiness and harmony in life, and provide you with the prosperity to enjoy it.