Tuesday, August 16

{CoffeeShop Family Flying Circus Adventures}: Chapter 5, "And Rita is UP!"

Interested to read more of the {CoffeeShop Family Flying Circus Adventures}?

PrologueChapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3,  Chapter 4Entire series (newest posts first)

A special thanks to my husband Paul who flies the plane and edits all our videos. Please subscribe to his Texas Gooney Bird YouTube channel if you are interested in following our adventures. It would make his day!

So our Texas Gooney Bird was home, safe and sound in our hanger, since March 15th this spring. Paul brought her up a few times and she flew like a dream. March 28th was a gorgeous spring day and Paul told us he was ready to bring us up for the first time in his baby.

OK, let's do this. After all, I have flown a few times in a small plane in my 20's. I am prepared. This would be the boys' first flight in a small plane, and I couldn't wait to see what they think. This is going to be fun!

The boys were so excited, but when we got to Hooks airport I started feeling a bit of anxiety. Paul told us we were going to fly from Houston to Conroe, then Brenham (home of Blue Bell ice cream), then back home. Three short and sweet flights.

I can do this!

"Come on Mom, we are leaving!"

With every cell in my body screaming at me to jump in the car, drive home, and hide under the bed, I reluctantly dragged myself into the aircraft. If that plane was going down with my family, I was going down with it.

Yes, I am a bit (OK, incredibly) melodramatic at times.

"I am going to be busy flying and I don't have the GoPro's set up yet, so could you take some photos and movies of the flight?" asked my excited husband.

"Sure, then I can post them on my blog!" I replied, hoping that I would be alive to blog again.

We took off and everything was going great. The flight was smooth,  the scenery was amazing, and the boys did not throw up.

And this was the only photo I took with my phone. I think one of the times I was checking to make sure my seat belt was securely fastened I accidentally hit the camera button.

Did I mention that I am a professional blogger and photo-editor? Yeah, I don't think I can edit this photo and make myself look good.

Oh well, there is always next time.

We made it to Conroe and had a delicious breakfast.

And I was doing pretty well.

"Come on Rita, we have to get to Brenham so we can grab some ice cream and make it home on time."

OK, I can do this.

They both look pretty competent.

And Imp is Mr. Cool. I noticed he spent most of last leg of the journey eating or napping, which is pretty incredible as the flight was only 20 minutes long.

OK, I feel really good about this. I am going to take tons of photos this time! I can't wait to blog about our adventures.

Then we hit some minor turbulence.

And this was the only photo I took on that leg of the flight. I was too busy holding tightly to Imp's hand and the window frame and making sure the wings weren't getting torn off and frantically searching the sky for planes, birds, lasers, drones or aliens that could potentially slam into us and cause us to plummet to our death in a giant blazing fire ball.

I have a very active imagination.

Deep breaths.

We safely made it to Brenham. I told myself we only have to survive one more flight back home. Then we can put the plane up for sale (heck, give it away, who cares!) and move on with our lives.

I obviously didn't share this plan with Paul.

But kids, while we are here on solid ground,  go stand in that snake and fire-ant-filled bluebonnet patch so I can take our traditional "Bluebonnet Family Photo".

OK, I can do this. Just one more flight. 

I was becoming a complete mess. I had conquered death two times, but was I going to be that lucky this time? Had I pressed my luck too far? 

As I write this I mentally see Paul and the boys rolling their eyes at me. They think I am slightly (incredibly) dramatic at times.

OK, so far so good. Not only am I looking out the window, I am taking a photo. Both wings look securely fastened which is a good thing. 

I also make sure the gas caps are on properly so our fuel won't float out, causing our engine to stop in mid-air. 

And I see there are plenty of fields for emergency landings. 

Wow, it is pretty out here in the country. I like Brenham.

Look kids, there is a lake. Must be Lake Conroe. We are getting close to home!

Wow, you can really see the Houston urban sprawl from up here. But strangely enough, it is attractive from the air.

Now Paul has to find Hooks airport so we can bring this baby home. Hooks has two runways, a big roomy one and a teeny-tiny one. The tiny one looks like a pothole-filled asphalt one-lane country road much too tiny to drive on, let alone land a plane.

So guess which runway we had to land on...

And I had the courage (barely) to actually record it on my phone.


We made it home.


[Note from Paul, the pilot:  Hooks has two parallel runways, one that is 100 feet wide (you can see it on the right in the video above), and the one we landed on which is only 35 feet wide.  Most public airports around here have runways 50 feet wide or more, some as wide as 150 feet.  35 feet might seem pretty wide, but when you are approaching the runway at 80 mph and usually have some crosswind to boot, it can be a little hair raising at times.  Walking the tightrope--what a blast!]

What you don't see in this photo is me kissing the ground. And crawling into the car and texting my mom that we were alive.

I didn't want her to worry.

I was so over-stimulated and overwhelmed and overexcited that when we got home I fell asleep almost instantly on the couch.

After my refreshing nap I felt much better and told Paul I think I was ready to go up again soon.


The saga continues! Read Chapter 6, our trip to Messina Hoff in Aggieland!

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  1. Love the story...I felt like I was traveling along with you and your anxiety. I've only ever flown once and that was commercial two years ago when I was 68. I always thought I would have a panic attack, but actually, it was awesome. Small plane though, I'm not sure. Great photos and had to smile at the ones that were not there, and would be awesome to have a plane for small flights. As well as your photography, you should write. Enjoyed reading. :)

  2. Oh Rita, I love your blog. I laughed and laughed at this. I know what it is like in those small planes. I was in Africa for several years and used to fly in these little planes quite often. It was always a bit unnerving, especially when landing in the bush with no runway. You are a brave soul. I know you will all have such fun with this plane and we will have fun reading about all your adventures.

  3. Happy to hear you survived the event intact!

    Lisa D.

  4. Your comments crack me up! How fun! You guys should fly to Aggieland ( :



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