Nothing is better than sitting in the office and having a student drop by to talk about flying their first aerobatic flight. When they become so excited they have a hard time containing their enthusiasm, it truly is an amazing event to witness.
That’s what happened today. There I was thinking about all I had to do during my office hours, when one of my students dropped by before class to tell me of his experience at Sun ’N Fun.
He was in the right place, at the right time, doing all right things, had the proper credentials, when a well-known air show pilot offered him and some other young aviators the rides of their lives. At first, one lucky person would get the ride in the aerobatic mount while the others were to ride in a Beechcraft Bonanza while in formation.
As my student explained, the pilots told him there was good news and bad news, and asked which he preferred to hear first. “Okay, what’s the bad?” replied my student.
“Well, you are not going to fly in the Bonanza because it is down for an electrical problem,” they told him. “Instead, you are going to ride in that,” his guide said, pointing to the air show airplane.
My student, a combat veteran of the Middle East, is in school working on a commission in the Air Force. He would like to return to compete for a seat flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The ride Sunday afternoon after Sun ’N Fun could not have been more appropriate for this young man.
Standing in my office telling me about what great fun he had while pulling 6g’s and slow rolling and going vertical, left me with a little doubt he would make a fine Fighting Falcon pilot. I could see into his future and knew he had a lot of schooling and training ahead for him to become an operational F-16 pilot. I also sensed he would thoroughly enjoy every small morsel of his training.
We talked a little more about aerobatic flying, tailwheel flying, and flying in the military. I know he is on his way to having the time of his life. As I watched and listened, I wondered if I was as excited as he when I was his age.
I thought back across the years to the time I was about his age. I thought about the first time someone took me in an airplane and turned me upside down. Was I that excited?
I think, yes, yes I was. I also believe talking with and teaching these new young pilots is what keeps me connected to my own youth.
For this, I remain eternally grateful to all of my students.
© 2011 J. Clark