A Pilot Christmas Story

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A Pilot Christmas Story

Postby eaglepilot » Thu Dec 24, 2009 2:39 pm

Hi All, I thought I would post a copy of a post I made on another website a few years ago. A lot of the folks over there liked it, maybe you will too. Brian

My Dad was a corporate pilot in the 60's 70's and 80's, flying around BC and Alberta. He's been gone these last 17 years; he never met my wife, my kids, or knew I had a successful career. He never knew I got my Pilot's license; we never had chance to BS about airplanes and such. Course I don't know how that conversation would have gone, my dad and I didn't see eye to eye on everything. My brother says it's because we were so much alike: stubborn, and didn't want to give an inch. Not much in the way of common ground.

When I came across some of his old aeronautical charts dating from 1963, I was looking with interest at his handwritten notes, his bearing lines from Douglas Lake Ranch (a private strip that was his most interesting & frequent destination) to Vancouver. My wife was with me when I found the charts, and I explained to her what the lines meant, how on this particular chart, a lot of the airports were not charted and Dad had handmarked the private strips that he knew, and their approximate length in case he might need them. I was surprised at how much I could relate to his flying.

I also explained to her about the airways (highways in the sky) and how airplanes fly at different altitudes depending on their direction of travel, in order to prevent midair collisions. As we are going to Hawaii in January, I felt I was giving her information that would help her deal with her apprehension about flying over that much water.

I was a little surprised she was paying attention to my aviation ramblings, but what the hey?

Lately, I've been missing Dad, I really should hang a recent picture of him. I have pictures from his days in the Air Force prior to my birth, but none of how I remember him. I'll ask my brother if he has a picture I can have.

Life goes on as it does, and this Christmas season was very hectic, with the kids in a multitude of activities, the weather being more difficult than normal, power outages, snowfalls, etc etc etc

Christmas Eve was very busy, the kids were difficult to get to bed, they didn't want to go to sleep, Dad and Mum had to stay up later than normal so that we could do our thing. Christmas morning was as good as it gets, Santa brought all the right presents, the kids were pumped!

I got the mandatory socks and shirts (just what I wanted); a pretty normal Christmas. My wife said, "There's one more gift for Dad, it was too big to wrap properly." So my 10 year old, 6 year old and wife go upstairs and come down with a BIG picture frame wrapped in brown paper.

Here you go!

Is it a picture of my kids, my airplane or ??

All eyes are on me. I tear off the plain brown wrapper and see Dad's aeronautical chart from 1963, beautifully framed.

I'm quiet. Real quiet.

My 6 year old says, "Why are you crying Daddy?"

"What are you crying about?"

Yeah, I had a pretty good Christmas!


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Re: A Pilot Christmas Story

Postby joemurffy » Thu Dec 24, 2009 3:27 pm

Very awesome story, Brian. My dad passed away unexpectedly back in 1999, right after having retired and moving to NW Wyoming. He had gotten his PPC in the late 70's, but due to an introductory flight where a CFI had taken our whole family up over Chicago at night and ended up demonstrating stalls, steep turns, and actually shutting off the engine to show how the plane can glide, my mother ended up never wanting to fly again. As a result he and I would only go up for an hour here and there until I went away to college. A few years ago I found his flying briefcase and had a great time remember him and flying with him as I went through his logbook and never-used 1978 sectionals from all over the midwest. He only flew a total of about 90 hours, but he was excited to start flying again during retirement. If only he would have know how flying adds time to your life. :-)

Maybe I'll have to frame one of his marked-up charts, too. . .
Joe Murphy - KPMV

N4706E / N115CC "Circus, Circus"
'51 Aeronca Champ 7CCM / '79 Bellanca Super Viking
'Once you fly fabric, you won't settle for metal.'

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Re: A Pilot Christmas Story

Postby PilotBillFromTexas » Thu Dec 24, 2009 8:24 pm

Great story, Brian!

Thanks for sharing that.

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Re: A Pilot Christmas Story

Postby champguy » Sat Dec 26, 2009 12:44 pm

My Dad quit flying in 1951 when a new job and complicating airspace around New England kept him grounded enough to loose proficiency. I was six years old but can still remember the Stinson we flew in.
He told me that airspeed is more important than altitude when climbing out, and that glassy water can be dangerous. He also told me the danger of letting a line boy put the gas cap on and not checking to be sure the vent was facing forward. Things got bent but he didn't talk about that much.
He gave me much. Respect for hands on skills, and the importance of paying attention to the little things that make the world safe for others. All that and the simple thrill of flying free up in the air and landing safely back on the ground.
Remember, not all who wander, are lost.

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Re: A Pilot Christmas Story

Postby Andrew B » Sat Jan 09, 2010 10:33 pm

Great story eaglepilot. Really touching and it made me think as I read how much I miss those who I loved dearly. Almost brought a tear to my eye thinking about those loved ones - I'll admit it. Thanks for sharing those great stories and have a good trip to Hawaii. --Andrew
Andrew Blanchard
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Aviation Technology

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Re: A Pilot Christmas Story

Postby t0r0nad0 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:07 pm

Great story!

PP-ASEL as of 8/15/2007
AGI as of 6/30/2008
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Re: A Pilot Christmas Story

Postby rcigliano » Wed Jan 13, 2010 2:56 pm


Brought a tear (ok maybe 2) to my eyes.

My mother passed away suddenly in 2006. She too did not see me get my PPL. She was very supportive and proud of me pursuing my license. My mother's parents are buried in the cemetery next to the airport. In fact they are close to the road which separates the cemetery and the airport, so from their grave I can see runway 32. My mother would tell me that my grandmother would watch over me while I flew to keep me safe. No my mother is buried there as well and is closer to the fence. So whenever I fly from KFRG, I have 2 people watching out for me.
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