Pilots Share Their ‘Gift’ Flights

I asked readers to share their own ‘gift of flight’ stories. Here is a trio of them.

A special flight over the Thanksgiving holiday introduced another member of the family to flying. From left to right, Stephen Yeates, Nolan Missigman, and Julie Boatman. [Courtesy of Stephen Yeates]

Turns out, many of us feel grateful for the gift of flight.

At least that’s based on the response we had to my recent Thanksgiving “View From Above” installment, in which I reflected on several recent flights that were meaningful. At the end of it, I asked readers to share their own stories. Here is a trio of them.

Dear Julie…

“I read your excellent article with a smile. Having just turned 59 (a fact that truly shocks me), your quips about changes as we age rang deep and true. 

“This year my wife and I fulfilled a dream by moving to an airpark (T25 in Texas). We met at an airport, were married at an airport, and now we live at an airport. 

“In doing so, we had to juggle moving both of us, two cars, two large spoiled dogs, and eventually two airplanes from Chicagoland to rural Texas. 

“The flight down here in my Sonex was an exercise in planning, flexibility, patience, and trust. And with each leg, I was reminiscing on this gift of flight we are granted. I built the Sonex and this was the biggest adventure we have tackled. 

“My wife Brenda flew her Champ “Charlotte” down separately - with less than 100 hours total time. She learned to fly in her, a hand-prop taildragger with minimal instruments. 

“I am truly thankful for each and every flight I make. Looking out at the Sonex wings, I think about building them with my wife. I think about the years I dreamt of flying but had to scratch and claw to earn the privilege. 

“Most of all, I think of the freedom we have and how rare and precious it is in this world. 

“Aviation has brought so much to my life. I’ve met great people, experienced incredible adventures, and hope to do so for a very long time. 

“Blue skies—Robbie Culver.”

Thankful for the 150

Another reader chimed in with his fond memories of flying an airplane near and dear to my heart too: the Cessna 150. Dear Julie, he wrote…

“…Appreciated your column. Grateful that in my early ‘60s I can still work as a pilot, see the world…and then, fly GA when I’m home. Just sold my trusty 150 (thankful I could still boost myself up on the strut!) last week. [The] morning of the sale I had to do one last demo. The buyers’ friend was test-flying it. But at the end I asked to fly her back. A magical morning, and a textbook-perfect crosswind landing. 

“To close the book on the little plane like that seemed perfect. She’s going on to train her new owners. But [I’m] thankful for all the smiles she gave this ‘heavy iron’ pilot, and the chance to part ways with yet another smile. 

“Blue skies—Scott Grillo.”

Another Sonex Mission

A third entry came via my LinkedIn post on the topic, with a bonus video, from Bryan Cotton:

“Great article! I was thankful to get my 87-year-old father up in the Sonex Waiex that my son and I built. This was last May. Due to age-related mobility issues it was a challenge—I’m glad I didn't wait. A short flight for me solo this morning, too, and I was thankful for that also.”

Thank you to those who shared stories…and keep them coming! As we fly through this season we could all use a little cheer. Send me a note at: julie@flying.media.

Based in Maryland, Julie is an editor, aviation educator, and author. She holds an airline transport pilot certificate with Douglas DC-3 and CE510 (Citation Mustang) type ratings. She's a CFI/CFII since 1993, specializing in advanced aircraft and flight instructor development. Follow Julie on Twitter @julieinthesky.

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