Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Isabelle's First Flight!

The day that I had thought about for more than a year FINALLY happened on Sunday. Isabelle went flying, with her Mummy at the yoke! I say "finally", because I had truly hoped to take Isabelle flying long before she was 13 months of age. However, the reality of sleep deprivation and competing work and life demands, not to mention losing my flying certification while pregnant (all pilots must re-certify every two years), proved to be rather more substantial obstacles than I had anticipated. Of course, I was a few weeks shy of turning 30 the first time I went up in a small plane, so "relatively speaking," I suppose 13 months isn't bad?!

I had been up flying (and gotten re-certified by Gashaw) in May, thanks to my Mother's Day present from Rich (i.e., a weekend of "me time"!), but several weekend flying trips we had planned during the summer got cancelled due to bad weather and suddenly here we were in early October and still no first flight for Isabelle.

Something had to be done! With a weekend forecast of nearly perfect flying weather, and the generous offer our of friend (and my former flight instructor), Rich Fenati, to come along as additional insurance of my flight skills, we decided to head to Cambridge, Maryland (CGE) for lunch on Sunday.

Cambridge is about a 50 minute flight from Gaithersburg, which seemed like a good trial flight for Isabelle. It also seemed appropriate, as the last flight I had made while pregnant with Isabelle was to CGE for lunch with my friend Laura.

Isabelle, as usual, was alert and interested in everything going on around her. Rich commented that she seemed a little surprised that he was sitting in the backseat with her, and clearly delighted in being able to get out of her car seat after take off, so she could face forwards and watch what her Mummy was doing.

Although I was concerned that having such precious cargo in the backseat would make me a nervous pilot, it was a relief to discover that it did not. In fact, in the best sense of the word, I didn't think about anyone else when I needed to aviate, navigate, or communicate. Sure, I stole a few glances into the backseat, and delighted at seeing Rich and Isabelle sitting there, but they weren't a distraction from getting the job done.

As forecast, it was a warm and sunny day for our little hop across the Bay. Coming into Cambridge, there were a few other pilots in the pattern, and the FBO told us they had been so busy in the morning that they had planes parking on the grass. The restaurant was hoping, but we quickly dug into our crab dip appetizer, and enjoyed beverages served in over-sized mason jars before our sandwiches and burgers arrived.

With Romeo booked by another club member for the late afternoon, we didn't dawdle as we made preparations to take off, with the possible exception of watching a helicopter overshoot his landing and come back to touch down where ground personnel indicated. Isabelle also got her diaper changed on the tarmac in the shade of Romeo's wing (a detail that might embarrass her to know at 13, but which I happen to think is quite cool!) while Fenati and I finished pre-flighting.

Potomac approach was hoping, and it took us two attempts to get our SFRA squawk code back to Gaithersburg, but it was an easy and enjoyable flight home. Although she had napped in the morning, Isabelle tucked into her sippy cup shortly after leaving CGE, and the drone of the propeller caused her to doze most of the flight home.

All in all, Sunday was a pretty perfect day!


At October 11, 2011 at 6:05 PM , Anonymous annemcmaster said...

Darlings, What an amazing and wonderful day for you and Rich and Isabelle! And Fenati in the copilot's seat...what a good friend!
The pictures of our litle granddaughter, looking so relaxed,are precious. Yeah for October weather and awesome travels! Love you! Mum and Dad

At October 13, 2011 at 5:17 PM , Anonymous Tamlyn & Dino said...

That's fantastic! We are so happy that you are up flying again and that Isabelle got to see what it is all about =) Love the photos!


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