Monday, September 1, 2008

Young Eagles Take Flight

I received a email a few days ago asking for Young Eagle Pilots. I have to say, I like taking people for rides, but with kids you never know what your going to get. My worry was that they sit up front and I can't get to them if they get scared or freak out. They also have to sit very deep in the Pitts so without a lot of seat cushions they can't see anything but the side of the plane. I flipped and flopped on this one for a few days, then said sure, but they had to be the older ones and they had to put a parachute on. The chute was only for a more of a cushion, but that might flip the parents out.

I get to the airport for the flights and it was a mad house. This little grass strip had become the busiest airport in the city. Most of the planes don't use radios, which was me once upon a time, but that was ok in the Cub. Now I'm doing 110 MPH and things are moving a ton faster. I entered the pattern a two or three times and had to go around two of them. Third times a charm and I was there.

First things first, Pancakes! Grab some food and then meet up with Lorie to get the flight briefing. We were to make a long circle out of the lake just East of the airport. Take about 15min or so.

12 noon came and I headed to the plane with my first Young Eagle Flight. He was not much of a kid, he towered over me, and was a Sr. in High school. I told him about the seat and the chute and that we would not be going inverted. I got him in the plane and we headed down to the end of the runway. The traffic was not bad on the ground, we were number two, but the pattern was full. By the time one was turning off, another was on short final. Finally we had a chance, so I moved out and did one last "You OK?". I got a yep and we hit the gas. Now the Pitts is only on the ground a few seconds, we move from 0 to 110 MPH in around 5 seconds or so, and we climb out. His last ride was just earlier today in a Cub, so this was huge change.

Once in the air we talked some. He wants to be a pilot some day, in fact he wants to fly F18's for the Navy. I told him about the plane, the engine how the prop changes pitch and what I was doing in the back. After our lap I told him what I was doing while entering the pattern, which had lightened up in the short trip we had just taken. In the Pitts I am looking for a pattern speed of about 100 MPH. I'll hold that speed all the way around and onto short final. I talked about the slip I held so I could see what was in front of me, and we made a great landing and taxied down to get some fuel.

Once out he was thrilled. His Dad and Brother were there also. His brother thought it was so cool, he wanted to go to, so he was number two.

I flew 3 kids that day, it was a blast for me. I love to give rides to first timers, and if the opportunity is around, I love to give first Aerobatic rides too.