Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Flying Back Into History

So if you've been reading my blog for a while now, you may recall that son Caleb passed his test and earned his first pilot rating for fixed wing flying back in the summer.   A sample certificate is shown here to the left.

He studied with an instructor based at the Penn Valley Airport, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.  It is a rather small airport, but on occasion they do land some big aircraft, and I have even heard that Meryl Streep appeared there recently on a stop to visit some relatives.

He continues to "hang around" the airport on occasion, and has taken his father for a flight over our home town not too long ago.  I have not yet flown with Caleb, mostly because I have a tendency toward motion sickness.  I am OK in large aircraft, but not so much in these smaller planes.  There may have been a girl that was taken up on a flight with Caleb, and rumor has it that much use was made of that little bag that one does not want to be using up in the air.  So for now, I will stay on the ground.

The Penn Valley Airport recently held a two day free air show, and Caleb was asked to contribute his time as an Air Marshall for the event.  I asked him what an Air Marshall does at an extravaganza like this, and he said his basic job is to keep people away from propellers.

As it turns out, his actual responsibilities during the two days included working with the pilot of a 1940 WACO Bi-Plane.  

His job was to prepare folks that wanted a ride on this plane.  He collected the fee, prepared the customer with headgear, made sure the passenger was safely belted into the back seat, and went over critical rules.  Because this was an open cockpit, passengers were warned to keep belongings like cell phones and cameras safely within the confines of the cockpit.  

There were two types of flights offered.  One was a fairly brief flight that was basically a take off, see the scenery, and landing deal.  This option cost $120 and was about 20 minutes long, start to finish.  The husband/lover/best friend spent the last of his 2011 Christmas money for this opportunity and was thrilled with his experience.  His comment:  "Priceless."

Because he was helping organize the flights, the pilot offered Caleb a free flight of the second variety.  Passengers selecting the type of flight Caleb was given were charged $300.  His flight was longer and it was a stunt type of deal with loop-de-loops, stalls, and other tricks that I don't even want to know about.

Of course he thought it was wonderful and awesome and amazing.  

(I thought it was great that he survived.)  I cannot imagine being way up in the sky like that, upside down, going at a great rate of speed, and hoping my seat belt works.  They would have had to use miles of steel chain wrapped around me and the airplane in order for me to take that kind of flight.  And, given me tranquilizers.  And, paid ME the $300.  

All in all, it was a great event and was quite well attended.  Along with the sky rides and WWII aircraft, there was food available, WWII re-enactors, and a USO style hanger dance.  A big thank you to the sponsors and airport personnel who made this a successful event.  The only fee charged was $5.00 for on-site parking, which benefitted local Boy Scouts.  

Military aircraft design has certainly come a long way since the 1940's.  Even so, I'm glad these two  special men in my life had this opportunity to experience history in an exhilarating way.  Me?  I'll stay mostly on the ground.


  1. That is so cool! You should be proud :)

  2. What fun! I flew professionally for many years, but never in an open cockpit. Your son has one up on me.