Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sharing General Aviation


The $418 hamburger that was well worth it


We walked outside to the Cessna on the tarmac. Memaw lacked a century by five years, and used a walking cane. My dad helped Memaw get into the airplane, while I helped her from the pilot side. Then I felt a tap on my back shoulder and turned to see my aunt. She asked, "Is there room for me, too?"

I chuckled and said, "Yeah, hop in the back!"

Once we were all situated, I asked Memaw when the last time she went flying was. She said, "I don't know." I inquired, "More than 30 years ago?" She laughed out loud and said, "Yes!" I joked, "And it wasn't in an airplane like this, huh?" She said, "No."

I turned onto the runway, and advanced the throttle fully forward. The 160 hp Lycoming engine awakened! Oil pressure was in the green, the engine provided maximum rpms, and the airspeed indicator quickly accelerated. At 55 knots, I slightly pulled the yoke rearward, and the nose gear lifted. We began climbing at 70 knots, and ground objects became increasingly smaller. Memaw commented, "It's amazing how small the trees look from here."

Once we were out of the traffic pattern area, I snapped a few photos of the three of us in the air. It took three tries to get all of us in the picture. Memaw calmly said, "It's probably best you quit taking photos and get back to flying." I smiled and said, "Nothing to worry about, Memaw."

We descended from 1,800 feet, and returned to the airport. We had a steady headwind, and I smoothly glided her to touchdown. When my dad asked how the flight was, my aunt replied, "I got a little nervous when there was some turbulence." Memaw immediately commented, "Really? I never got nervous."

Most pilots have heard the "$100 hamburger" expression when describing how much it costs to fly to a local restaurant to get a burger. Well, this was my "$418 hamburger," but it was worth every penny! General aviation is such a great freedom we have in the U.S., and it was an honor for me to fly my 95-year-old great-grandmother over the land she loves so much. We could all benefit from emulating her sense of adventure that shows no fading with age.



1 Comment

Add Comment