Once a pilot, always a pilot
It has been a thrill to watch the comradery and enthusiasm about flying that pilots share. As we get to know more people in the flying community we generally find helpful folks with a common love of flying, who are happy to lend a hand, share some knowledge or simply talk shop.
But it has been a sheer joy to watch my grandfather (age 93) who is a retired pilot, enjoy our plane and our adventures. Suffice it to say, he's a big fan.
With the pandemic continuing to rage on and a keen awareness of seizing the day we recently got some flights in with my grandfather who is in exceptional health and has a memory that recalls every detail of every flight he's ever taken.
He and my husband, The Pilot, can talk shop endlessly. :)
We were able to get two lengthy flights in with him over the course of the weekend - flights that HE planned by the way. He had sights he wanted to see and did the bulk of the flight planning. For the rest of this post we will call him The Other Pilot. :)
His flying experience spans almost 40 years;
Flights throughout North and South America and the Caribbean.
Civilian Pilot: 1951-1989
Navy E4 radar technician: 1945-46
Navy Reserve: 1946-1951
AF Reserve Major Activated: 1968-69; 1951-1970
Some insights from The Pilot...
Being a pilot is all about the travel on our schedule, the great views as we swoop through the tops of clouds, the rewards of flying approaches in difficult weather, and then there’s that other thing; probably the most important thing: mitigating risks. During the flights with The Other Pilot, and even during the ground time when we were anywhere close to each other, I kept my mask on to minimize any risks associated with either of us possibly having COVID-19 (or anything else, for that matter). Just in case.
During the flights we got in a lot of over-water time. We carry emergency life vests on all flights (just like the ones on commercial flights), so we were prepared just in case. I also carry with me on every flight a personal locator beacon that can initiate an emergency rescue. Again, just in case.
And the plane itself even has a whole-airplane parachute in case there’s any sort of failure of the airplane. Again, just in case. If you’re having trouble imagining a parachute for the whole airplane, you really should watch this brief video: https://youtu.be/kQyrPVIIQdE It’s perhaps the ultimate form of “just in case”, but it sure is nice to know it’s there when you’re flying over open water, long miles of forests in all directions, and especially at night when it’s impossible to even see where you might have to do an emergency off-airport landing!
Enough about risk mitigation; let’s talk about how much fun it was to fly with The Other Pilot. He was able to get into and out of the plane with ease (a challenge even for me when I’m creaky on a cold morning), and he was actively involved in the flight planning and details of communications with air traffic controllers. He even had suggestions for routing to all the places he wanted to see. Even though he hasn’t flown as PIC (pilot in command) in a few years, he’s still very much aware of the airspace and was able to point out other aircraft (spotting traffic is what pilots call it). He knew to be quiet when ATC was calling for me on the radio (not something most passengers understand!), and when it was appropriate, he was telling me some wonderful stories of his flying adventures.
I hope to get in more flights with him soon.