A family affair… finally

It is Sunday afternoon, I have the two kids strapped into the Mooney and I am about to push the throttle forward… but WAIT, before we go there, we need to take a quick jump back in time, to 2001.

My wife and I moved to San Diego around that time. Between med school and exams (that’s her, I am simply not that smart) we decided to take a trip to San Felipe, in Mexico. We got in the car and drove for five hours, and when we arrived had so much fun we promised to do it again the very next month. That was 10 years ago.

San Felipe: a five hour drive or a two hour flight. (Courtesy TripAdvisor)

Then life started and brought three beautiful children, which automatically shrunk our travel endurance to a maximum of two hours. Nature simply didn’t design little children to sit still for five hours, and after the sixth stop in a span of 30 minutes you realize that it is going to be a nightmare.

Now fast forward to few years ago: my neighbor Bob tells me that he is going to the airport and at first I thought he was going on vacation, but it turns out he is a retired airline pilot who spends his days flying little airplanes around. He offered to take me up and I immediately jumped at the opportunity. We went to Brown Field (KSDM) to get gas, and what do you know… Mexico is just over the horizon.

Then, while in the air, it hit me! An airplane! That is the solution to all of my vacation problems: I simply need to get a license, buy a plane and take the family on a vacation… How hard can that be?!

Well… hard… and not for the reasons you think. After I got my license and bought my plane, I was still flying alone, and the biggest problem was not the time, it was not the money, it was my wife.

For the next few years I heard first hand of every single crash that happened around the world. I mean the woman was a magnet for newspaper articles and YouTube crash videos! Who knew there is so much STUFF out there with people killing themselves and their loved ones?  I was losing the battle every single day; San Felipe now looked farther than ever.

I can tell you at every dinner with friends and family the flying “issue” would come up, and since I was the only pilot in a 100 mile radius (which is sad as it is) I was fighting 10-15 people who were bombarding me with crash questions and “you are crazy” comments. All the while my wife listened to the hysteria growing around the table. I made sure to answer every question with an intelligent answer, I never shrugged and I never let it get to me. You have a question? BRING IT! Looking back I can tell you that it was anything but fun, however I think it was essential to what was coming next.

Then, after a while, something started to change. I think the breaking point was when I came back from a day (flying) trip to San Felipe and told her about all the places we visited many years ago. I could see that the tide was changing and that things were starting to make more sense. Maybe this flying thing was not such a bad idea after all.

Then the “how long will it take” questions started to pop up. “How long will it take to fly to San Felipe? How about to Monterey?” We all know that driving for seven hours (compared to three hours flying) is not going to happen.

Kids in airplane
Taking the kids for a flight – finally!

So a few weeks ago I offered (for the 100th time) for her to come fly with me (since the weather is perfect and the wind is calm) and to my surprise I got a YES! I have to tell you that she was nervous at first, but once we got to cruising altitude she enjoyed every minute of it. When we landed she said (and I quote), “I would like to go again next weekend.” Success!

And now we go back to our Sunday. I have the big kids in the Mooney, strapped in, taking 28R and ready to go, I push the throttle in and all of those past few years, all the discussions, the dinners, the comments, the hysteria, all simply fade away as we defy gravity and take to the air.

It was truly an amazing experience to share flying with my kids and is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. I am here to tell you that it was all worth it. Stick with it, be patient and your day will come as well.

San Felipe here we come!

12 Comments

  • This gives me hope, I am almost ready for a check ride, bought a nice 182, and have a home in San Felipe…14 hour drive from my Nor Cal home. My wife and oldest daughter say they won’t fly in a small plane…My 10 year old daughter has already been up a few times and loves it. Hopefully in time they will take a short flight, and see how safe it really is. It could sure expand our weekend get a ways.

  • Excellent article Liad. You successfully communicated your logic and ambition with your wife’s and the children. You stood fast and defended the safety of flight with your friends and came out a winner! Hats Off to You!

  • 🙂 guys thanks for the comments. My point in sharing this story is simple; when someone brings up the safety word, stand strong and educate them on the truth. I am a big believer that everyone out there , if not scared off, would lllloooovvveee to go up in the air, it’s our job to explain and educate, and by doing so, get more people flying !

    • Hi David,

      Its all about mitigating risk. When you get the kids in the car, do you double check their car seats? Do you make sure the pool is covered before you leave the house? Do you give the baby VERY small pieces of that apple so she doesn’t choke? Same here… You stay proficient, you fly once a week and you don’t save a dime on your airplane’s maintenance, you do it RIGHT… its all about mitigating risk.

      Liad

  • My wife went from the hesitant passenger to now she gets more upset than I do when we can’t fly because of weather or other reasons. She encouraged my upgrade to the Cherokee Six when we had our third child and outgrew the 182. Sharing the flying experience with friends and extended family has really changed the conversations from “what are you thinking” to “that’s really neat”.

    Great Article!

    Steven

    • Hi Steven, I am working my way up to a Six, hopefully this year… will be fun.

      I can only hope that more families uses personal aviation (don’t like GA.. what exactly is general here?!) to expend their vacation destinations. I do find it hard to find families to fly with, do you have the same problem?

      Thanks again 🙂

      Liad

  • Liad,

    I write this comment from Treasure Cay in the Bahamas…Spring Break with the family. Flying with family is what GA is all about. The weekend trips to see the older kids who moved out of town, the great vacations so easily done, and the thrill of sharing and passing on the passion of flying. As mentioned by the last post, like I did years ago that fun flying Mooney has to go in favor of a more family friendly larger airplane. I loved my Mooney, but with kids getting bigger and the backseat not expanding…plus you have 3 kids…you need a 6 seater. I chose a Bonanza A36… You keep the great speed and pickup fabulous comfort and terrific handling. Over the years I have flown Or owned Cessnas, Pipers, Mooneys and now Beech… You will never be sorry buying the Beech. It does everything well. Enjoy family flying, it’s really a new dimension.

  • Bob, it always puts a mile on my face when I hear a dad bragging about his family flying, we earned it !

    I will probably go with a six just for the useful load. regardless of what we fly it’s the fact that we do, and like having kids, flying requires commitment and money, and both are worth every penny 🙂

    Liad.

  • Lovely story
    As a sit in Dublin airport (Ireland) departures reading your lovely tale it gives me great hope for flying my family across Europe.

    Tim

  • Great Story! I had the same problem. But with a twist. My wife was keen when i was training for my PPL and looking for a plane. She actually encouraged me to buy the 172 we now own. But in my exuberance in wanting to share the experience I took her up while still a student but with an instructor who was new to my plane and flight school. It was not the best day with cumulus clouds and a bit of turbulence. She was not happy especially hearing the stall horn on takeoff (my first time with three adults in the plane) and the bumps were not all that enjoyable. She never wanted to go up again. Although she let me take our two boys up and even on a long trip to Montreal but she had no desire to go.
    It took me a full year to convince her to come up again. I am not sure if she was waiting for me to get some experience or to see if i was going to kill myself.
    We went for a second short local flight a year later and it was wonderful. Since then we have visited Cape Breton and took the excellent club car to lunch and flew back to our aerodrome with a nice tail wind. She seems much more comfortable with it now. What I learned was choose the day carefully, keep it short and if someone says it’s time to go back and land do it. No need to make someone nervous. Another thing is to explain what you are doing before you do it. I pulled the throttle back in the circuit and the look on her face was priceless! I now go through a thorough pre flight brief with all new passengers.

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