12 September 2008

Shrieking With Delight!

Way back in the early spring sometime, my favorite watering hole sponsored a fund-raising golf tournament and silent auction for some cause or other, I don't remember to be honest. Being the totally magnanimous and benificent soul that I am, I donated a sightseeing flight to the auction. Because I will use just about any excuse to haul my butt into the air, I have donated a number of flights like this. Also, it is great fun taking people into the air for their first flight!

Well, last week the winner of the aforementioned flight came a-calling and up we went.

Said winner was a great guy, and the flight was actually a treat for his teenage daughter so she sat up front in the right seat while dad took up the back seat.

We did my usual tour over Denver - the downtown skyline, Elitch's, Coors Field, Invesco Field, Pepsi Center, and much of east Denver where the above-mentioned establishment is located. Incidentally, dad in the rear seat is a cousin of the owner of this establishment so I thought it appropriate that we circle over it. Can never spread too much good karma around now, can we?

So we did that and then headed west to take in the sight of Red Rocks from the air. For those of you who don't know it, Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a natural rock amphitheatre located in the foothills west of Denver. It is part of the Fountain Formation which is comprised of very prominent sandstone layers that are highly tilted and protrude in many spots along this valley, all the way down to Colorado Springs. For any first-time visitor to this area, a trip to Red Rocks is a must.

The geology of the Denver area is extremely interesting and the foothills and Dinosaur Ridge are awesome to observe from the air but I'll save that for another installment.

Anyways, Red Rocks has been developed into a world-class venue for mainly music but also other types of acts as well as movies. We flew up and down the valley and it is just sooo cool to see this amphitheatre from the air. I have been to many concerts there and it just never ceases to be one of the the most awesome spots on the planet.

We then motored further south to Chatfield Reservoir and observed the myriad boats on the water this bright, clear morning. Along the way I couldn't help but notice that my right seat passenger seemed to be enjoying herself very much. Very very much. Snapping photos, smiling, laughing, she was thoroughly having way too much fun.

So having a sixth sense about this I asked if she wanted to take the controls. I surely can't do justice to her reaction - her eyes about popped out of her head and she asked incredulously "Really??" So as cool and casually as I could while taking my hand off the yoke I said "Sure, there you go - IT'S YOUR AIRPLANE!"

Well, I think I surprised her so much that for a few seconds the airplane had no hand on either yoke, so I commented that many airplanes, especially small piston singles such as the one we were in, are really very stable machines and will pretty much fly themselves. Once you get them off the ground. When she got over her surprise, she took the controls.

You may recall that I am training to be a flight instructor and at this point I have had about 15 hours of dual time with a student in the left seat (certificated instructor in the back). So I am starting to get the hang of telling students how to perform various maneuvers. I am also getting to the point where instructing is becoming a heckuva lot of fun.

Mainly because I get to watch the student as she or he tries to follow my commands and is so intent on getting it right. It is very satisfying to see someone perform well on your instructions.

After a quick run-through of the heading and airspeed indicators, I had Nicole do some turns to headings, climbs and descents, and one steep turn which I kept from getting any steeper with a surreptitious hand on my yoke. All the while she wore a smile from ear to ear and was shrieking with delight . . . I can't describe how much pleasure I got from seeing her have so much fun. It is truly one of the coolest reasons I do this flying thing.

Dad was also beaming in the back seat - he was so proud of his little girl, and I can totally relate because, as I told you about in an earlier post, I had my own teenage daughter fly the airplane a while back.

I kept glancing over at her to watch her face and it was the pure embodiment of joy - she was just having so much fun I'm sure it will remain one of her favorite memories.

Too soon, we were back on the ground so I asked if she wanted to take lessons and of course she emphatically said "YES!!" but apparently dad's checkbook is currently busy subsidizing lacrosse so flying has been added to the to-do list.

But I'm optimistic that she will — another prospect for TailWind Aviation!

And another person bitten by the words of Leonardo: "When once you have tasted flight you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long to return."

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