Final flight

My dad was a putterer. He liked to “fix things,” “repair things” (that he fixed), and invent strange gadgets. He was a would-be engineer, who ended up with a BA in Commerce and working as a Budget Supervisor for Hydro Quebec.

Dad also liked aviation, especially vintage planes, and enjoyed checking out small airports when he could. He had an old wooden propeller hanging in our basement – I was always leery of asking him how he obtained it. Mother told me of the time Dad took her to a small rural airstrip in Quebec to fly a model gas-powered plane. The day started off poorly when they were buzzed by a frustrated pilot.

Final flight with parents
Taking your parents flying – one of the great joys of being a pilot.

Things went further south when Dad released the plane with the engine revving. It was the type of model that was designed to fly in circles after release with an adjustable rudder – no remote control. Apparently the rudder had a different direction in mind. The plane took off and continued straight until it was out of sight. Dad and mom watched it together. I am told that Dad cried.

Fast forward to May 2006. Mom and Dad, now elderly, were visiting our family in Waterloo, Ontario, on one of their annual visits. I decided to take them flying. I rented a Cessna 172 out of Kitchener Waterloo airport and took them for individual flights. I flew dad over the Town of Fergus, where some of our Scottish descendants settled and even had a street named after them (Gartshore St). We flew along the Grand River and Elora Gorge, and over the hamlet of Elora.

He took the controls for some of the flight. I marveled at how natural he seemed with the controls – steady and even, only small corrections, and maintaining altitude even in turns. I think he would have made a good pilot if time and finances had permitted.

I didn’t know at the time that he had terminal colon cancer, and neither did he. Two months later he passed away, and finally earned his wings.

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