She vividly recalls begging for airplane rides. Bubbly laughter, curly hair, skinny little legs. Best of all, she didn’t weigh much. West Texas in July was hot, density altitude was high, and the performance of the ancient Cessna 140 wasn’t stellar on a good day. Reduced weight was a bonus.
“Do it Again!” she would order….she still gives orders, and I still take them….
We would slowly climb the 140 to altitude, grabbing a lift from any helpful thermals that might exist. At 12,000 feet, I would do a couple of turns, then stall the plane and put it into a spin. Down we would come, rotating, with her squeals of delight echoing in my ears.
“Do it Again!”. And we would…..
Her enthusiasm for the adventure, and her enthusiasm for her older brother stuck with her. Marriages, families, tragedies, and triumphs littered our lives. In the past decade or so, we have become best friends. I am at rest with my sister and her husband. We can stay days, weeks, together, and it remains calm.
The next “order” came.
“I want to fly!” she announced. So, we mounted up in the trusty Bird Dog (L-19), and I took her flying. The squeals weren’t as pronounced, but she clearly enjoyed the ride. A few months later, she was helping me move (again). Another order came…..
“I want to fly!”.
So be it. However….the “evil older brother” came out….I arranged cushions for the seat, adjusted the harness, and when I pulled the plane into the yard, I got out, and ordered her to the front seat. Her initial reaction was to decline, but that wasn’t open for negotiation.
Fifty years melted away…and the little curly headed, skinny legged girl was laughing joyfully, and was making every effort to comply with the flight instruction given. The older brother was no longer a newly minted private pilot, but an “older instructor”, who happily provided guidance. Turns, climbs, and descents, and the joy of dancing through the air with the elderly Cessna was seen on her face.
Sharing the joy of flight is always rewarding. Seeing happiness in your sister’s face is fulfilling. The elder brother at age 17 hardly noticed the little sister. Fifty years later, he saw the little girl again.
The old instructor smiled.