My wife has a love hate relationship with aviation. She hates flying in small planes and loves flying in helicopters. My two daughters are the same way. I feel that I am to blame.
Being a graduate of the Army Aviation Flight School I was able to show my experience in rotor wing aircraft (helicopter) and with a written test I was able obtain my rotor wing commercial certificate. When I left the Army in 1972, I started my GI Bill training in fixed wing aircraft (airplanes). Once I completed my training for Airplane single-engine, multi-engine and instrument commercial certificates I decided to go for my CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) certification. The local testing center where I lived did not give that particular written test. I would have to go to New Orleans Lakefront Airport to take the test. I decided to fly to Lakefront and have my wife go with me as a day of adventure. It turned into a nightmare.
The day I had scheduled the test the sky conditions were 500 feet overcast and one mile visibility, Lakefront was reporting the same. The weather was not expected to get better or worse. I filed my IFR (instrument Flight Rules) flight plan and was ready to head to Lakefront. I had rented a Cesena 172 from the local Fixed Base Operator (FBO), loaded myself and my wife in the airplane and took off. In two minutes we were in the clouds and did not see land for the next two hours. My wife was wide-eyed the whole time trying to find just a small glimpse of the ground.
When we started our decent, we were cleared for the ILS 180 approach into lakefront. When we came out of the clouds at 450 feet all you could see were the waters of Lake Pontchartrain. My wife’s month opened wide as if she was wanting to scream, but not a sound was uttered. She then grabbed the dash preparing for a water crash landing. Shortly afterwards the airport became visible at which time she became a bit less apprehensive about where we were going to land. From there things got worse.
Once we landed my wife was seated in the waiting room of the FOB trying to calm down from the approach, while I took my test.
When we were ready to leave I tried to start the aircraft, but it would not turn-over. The battery was dead. Unbeknownst to me was the fact that when you turned the master switch off it did not turn off the landing light, thus running the battery down. Now if that wasn’t enough, when maintenance came out to charge the battery there were only three of six fasteners holding the engine cowling to the aircraft. Trying to get my wife back into that aircraft was like trying to put a cat in a sack. It took a while.
My two daughters hate airplanes as well, they don’t like the rumbling down the runway at all. But they love helicopters. If I were to say, “Let’s go flying today.” They would ask me, “What are we flying in.” If I said a plane they always had something else to do, if I answered helicopter they all would beat me to the car. I am constantly reminded by my girls, “Its all your fault Dad.”
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