G'day! and welcome to my blog's new home. I'd like to say a big 'cheers mate' to Clay for building me such a fabulous new house.

Here you will find my articles and blogs from the sky documenting my aerial adventure across Australia, and sometimes - when I'm very lucky - around the world!

Lots of airyplanes, plenty of new shoes and hopefully many undiscovered places.

Blue skies,

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Perfect Passenger

A while back, to make up for my general slackness in getting involved in my daughter's school, I offered a flight over Sydney Harbour as a raffle prize at a school function. Many months passed, and eventually I heard from the winner, Katherine, who had purchased the ride for her son, Wesley.

As anyone living north of Victoria knows, La Nina has been dotty this year, with hot muggy days and long afternoon rains, followed by windy days, months of cloud and even more rain. All in all, pants weather for flying. So, it wasn't until last week that Wesley and his father Bob were free at the same time as myself and my trusty flying machine SFR. We agreed to meet at Bankstown, and, as it turned out, it was Ms Nina's rostered day off - for the second time this season.

I was expecting a child, of course, but young Wesley was in fact only seven. He was, however, the smartest, most well behaved seven year old I have ever, ever encountered. He asked only intelligent questions - some I truly had to think about before answering, others I really enjoyed, such as how lift is created, and why we put a cover over the pitot.

We had truly splendid weather - with an afternoon storm forecast, of course - but fine that morning, with the air as calm as a surgeon's hands. Young Wesley was interested in every process of the flight - the radio calls, the instrument panel, the headsets- but nothing was more delightful than his reaction on take off: he shrieked with delight and pointed out how everything was so small. I had indulged him (well, myself really) with a big "wheeeeee" on take off, in case he was nervous (and because it's how I do it when solo) and, refraining from a verse of Come Fly With Me, I continued on with my tour Pilot's job of pointing things out from the sky.

Although it was a splendid day, and the Harbour was busy, we received clearance to go straight into the harbour. Much to Wesley's delight there was a huge ocean liner at the quay. After a few orbits, we headed back to Bankie, just as the weather was showing signs of grumbling.

The circuit was busy, with everyone having the same idea of putting their wheels on the ground before the brewing storm. As we were on base, the wind had backed, and the tower called a downwind of five to seven knots with an option to go around and change directions. By the time the call was processed, I was established on final, and committed to the landing, which was a strange experience. Used to having the wind on my nose to slow me down, I usually make it off the runway opby the first or second exit. With a slight tailwind, I drifted until the fourth exit. But, as we all know, as the only thing a pilot is remembered for is their landing, I made it a good one.

And then I heard those joyous words from little Wesley, "how old do you have to be to learn to fly?" and I remembered why I get out of bed at daybreak to take 700kg of metal up into the sky. Blow me down, I think I might have inspired my first ever future pilot. I sang all the way home...

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