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.
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.
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!