Probably just before or after the flight on November 8, 1969 my Dad bought this Pilot Flight Log book. The first entry that Dad, the pilot, recorded may have been my first airplane ride. I was 8 years old on June 29, 1969 when I went on a 3 hour flight from Long Beach Airport to Santa Barbara, California. We lived in Long Beach up until June 1969 but since I wrote my address in the book as Bunny Run in Wichita Falls, the log book must have been purchased a little later when we moved to Texas.
I don’t recall the first two flights that my Dad recorded. I do, however, recall the two flights with Dad, which took place when we lived in Durham, North Carolina. Dad got his pilot’s license about 1958 as part of his coursework at Oklahoma State University and by 1976 he was a part-time flight instructor and working on getting his instrument license.
Dad walked me through all that he had to do to be prepared to fly, which included filing a flight plan, checking all the gear visually as well as testing flaps and such. We got in the small aircraft and shut the doors. When I shut the door, I tried it again because it sounded like a paper door. I’m afraid of heights and while I wanted to do this I also didn’t want to do it and that flimsy door did not make me feel secure. The inside of the aircraft was tight quarters and my left shoulder was touching my Dad’s right shoulder and my right shoulder was touching the ‘paper’ door. I was very frightened that the door would just pop open while we were flying so I leaned more on Dad than the door throughout the flight.
Next we had to yell out the window “Clear the prop!” in case someone was near the propeller. Then Dad started the engine and we made our way to the runway. He had to get instruction from the tower for every move and eventually we took off.
We flew all around the area and he pointed sights out to me. He instructed me on how to move the plane up and down, left and right, talked about all the instruments and etc. He had me hold on to the steering wheel (yoke, I think) while he flew and let me take over the controls some. I moved the plane up and down and turned it left and right. After a while, Dad decided to just play a bit so he took the controls and pointed the nose of the plane straight up. We went up until the propeller & engine died. Then the nose of the aircraft began facing the ground and we were free falling down. During this time we experienced no G’s, making me feel like my brain and stomach were still way up in the air. Soon, Dad restarted the engine and we leveled out. I was scared to death but Dad had been completely in control and knew everything that was going to happen. He loved doing that and I have no idea how he kept his mind clear to do so.
Eventually, we landed and I never wanted to experience any of that again.
According to the log it was only a few months later that I went flying with Dad again. I flew with him more times than are recorded. One time he was teaching a student how to land using only the instruments. The student wore a helmet of sorts, that was called a hood, to limit his sight to only the aircraft’s instrument panel. We were in a small aircraft and this student was a very large man and I was very concerned about the weight limit. The plan was for Dad to instruct this student for a few “touch and go’s” (landing and take offs) then fly to a nearby city to pick up the student’s wife, eat dinner and fly back home.
I thought this student was horrible and I was frightened the entire time. Using only the instruments, the student was trying to land but we were no where near the runway. Dad would let the aircraft get a few feet from the ground, then he would pull up on the yoke, take us up and away from the airport and then instruct the student on what he did incorrectly and how to read the instruments. We did this several times and I remember thinking that the student was not improving. Eventually, we flew to meet the student’s wife and we had dinner together and then went back home.
I do not recall ever going back into one of those tiny planes after that. I have, however, been on more commercial flights than I have kept track of.