Monday, June 8, 2009

Future Pilots

A few months ago, I signed up as a role model with an organization called Girls With Wings, which uses "aviation to entertain and educate girls about their limitless opportunities." One of the organizers put me in touch with a student pilot, Keith, who had recently enrolled his daughter, Madeleine, with Girls With Wings. When I realized our June club fly was going to be to the WWII air show in Reading, PA, I emailed Keith and invited him and Madeleine, as well as his son, Aiden, to come along in the Tiger.

Aiden had been flying with Keith twice before, but told his Dad that it was a "life long dream to fly in a low wing," so we knew he was on board. Madeleine had never been flying in a small plane, but decided to follow her big brother's lead, and agreed to come too. They showed up on Saturday decked out in cool flying gear, and looking as cute as can be.

We had a low flight up to Reading to stay under the clouds, and I got some good experience at the air show being vectored around as the controller and tower coordinated the landing of nearly 100 planes in a few short hours.

As we waited for the car to take us over to the air show, Keith snapped a picture of me by a Cheetah, complete with its large Cheetah mascot. (I just wanted to show Greg that I'm not the only pilot weird enough to fly with a stuffed animal. There are at least two of us!)

I had been to the WWII air show last year with Gillian and Rich, and it is quite the impressive spectacle. There are hundreds of actors in costume, singing, dancing, historic planes, tanks, motorcycles, WWII battle reinactments ... you name it, they have it!

We checked out the historic village, army tents, and Madeleine and Aiden got new toy planes, before we settled down to watch the air show. Keith was kind enough to lug around his telephoto camera all day, so all pictures are courtesy of him!

Of course, I stole the camera at one point to take a picture of the happy family.

We got some nice views of the planes as they taxied past us before taking off for their respective roles. Some did aerobatics, while others took part in mock battle reinactments.

We eventually retreated from the heat to the shade under the wing of a large plane. The kids drew pictures, colored, and ate some of the snacks their Mom had packed, while Keith and I talked plane geek and watched the rest of the airshow.

I definitely sense future pilots with these two!!

We decided to start making our way back to the Tiger around 4:30. The airport had predicted holding all planes until 5:30 because of the aerobatics show, but ended up releasing us closer to 5:00. The clouds had cleared, although a bit of haze had set in, but we were able to climb higher and get home a little faster.
We stopped quickly at Carroll County for gas, and then made the short jump back to Gaithersburg. Keith helped the kids fill out their log books while I tucked the Tiger down. Aiden now has four entries and Madeleine two. Not bad for a six and a four year old!

As we made our way over to the parking lot, Keith and I joked that the kids were going to sleep well that night. Oh, and their Dad and pilot too!!


At June 9, 2009 at 7:17 AM , Blogger Lynda Meeks said...

As that "organizer" I am so glad to hear that you had a tangible experience with a future Girl With Wings - and her brother, sure to be a pilot as well. Thanks for being willing to share what you do with others. Even if Madeleine doesn't become a pilot, I know you inspired her to try new things.

At June 9, 2009 at 11:04 AM , Anonymous annemcmaster said...

What an amazing day for you all. The big smiles on all your faces tells the story perfectly! And what a story those little folk had for school on Monday!

At June 9, 2009 at 2:07 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

We had a great time with you this weekend. I appreciate the time you took to explain some things I didn't fully understand since I am a student pilot.

Aiden and Madeleine have told everyone about their day last Saturday. Madeleine slept with her toy plane that night too!

BTW - it's OK to have stuffed animals in your plane. We don't mind. :)


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