Friday, April 15, 2016

{CoffeeShop Family Flying Circus}: Chapter 1, "Unable to Get Liftoff"

Click HERE to read the prologue of the {CoffeeShop Family Flying Circus} series. Click HERE to read the entire series, newest blog post first.

Paul got his private pilot's license in his early 20's and then didn't fly for over 20 years. But the bug never stopped biting (true passions never die) and last year we were able to put aside some money for plane rental.

He rented Cessna 172's from a local airport and built up his hours until he felt confident enough to fly his family.

February 2015: It was a beautiful calm day, perfect flying weather. Paul was able to rent a 172 for our first family flight to Brenham. This would be my second flight up in a small plane, but the first for the boys.

We were all so excited and Paul did a very thorough preflight. These rental planes were often a bit rough and he had yet to fly in one that didn't have some minor/major "squawk" (as problems with aircraft are called).  A few squawks Paul had personally experienced included an inoperative stall warning and a nose wheel shimmy that almost shook him out of the plane.  

Paul mentioned to me that this aircraft had just had its 100 hour inspection, and we were the first people to fly in it after being in the shop. He didn't really want to be Cessna test pilot, but the preflight so far was going well.

The boys couldn't wait. They were strapped in before Paul even started looking over the plane.

We finally got to the part of the preflight where Paul starts the engine. And the engine wouldn't start.  The battery was dead.  Icky greenish-blue stuff was also leaking all over the front wheel pant.

Paul went to talk to the guy at the flight school/plane rental counter. The guy looked the plane over and said it was the only rental available today, but he could go jump-start the battery and we should be good to go. He also mentioned we might need to get it jump-started again before heading home and reminded us that we had to be back before the next rental block.

Paul and I looked at each other and knew our first family flight was not going to happen today. There was no way we were going to take our kids up in an aircraft that wasn't in perfect condition and have to worry about rushing back in time for the next renter.

We unpacked all of our stuff from the plane and went back to the car.  I could tell Paul was really upset and the boys were disappointed.

We slid into the car and quietly sat there for a minute. Then Paul turned to me and said "I don't want to fly my family in any plane that is not maintained and could be unsafe. I reported squawks on every rental I have flown in here, and rarely do they get fixed. And when they do, I am expected to be a test pilot and fly a plane that just came out of the shop. All of the rentals in our area are in the same condition, beat-up old planes used in flight schools."

He paused for a moment and sighed. "It isn't safe to be an occasional pilot flying in shoddy rentals."  (OK, so he didn't actually say "shoddy," but you get the point.)  "So the way I see it, I have two options. Either we buy our own plane, or I need to give up flying altogether."

I sat there looking at him and I could see by his expression that he had already decided that his flying days were over.

And it broke my heart.

We sat there for a while then decided that the day was young and we weren't going to waste the beautiful weather, so we went into town to ride go-carts.  And life was good.

And Paul quietly once again put away his dreams of flying.

To Be Continued! Read Chapter 2!

You can read the entire series of the {CoffeeShop Family Flying Circus} here.

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  1. It's like it was meant to be! Love your plane stories!

  2. Oh dear. I hope that things will change and Paul won't have to give up his dreams entirely. Good luck to him!

    Lisa D.