Today is a fantastic day for staying indoors and catching up on some “much overdue” writing. It’s a deceivingly-chilly 9° here in sunny, small-town Nebraska. By looking out the window, one would almost guess they could go for a refreshing, brisk walk with the sunshine smiling upon their face. That “One” would be sorely mistaken, however. I don’t believe I would bother to even try starting up the old VW Jetta – diesel today, for fear she might gel. Nope, it’s seat warmers for me (if I must go anywhere), or death by frostbite.
So while I sit in my warm, although somewhat drafty, 1930’s bungalow, sipping coffee and using my beloved border collie as my foot warmer, I shall tell you the story about a most amazing day.
Several weeks ago, on a morning that also was quite chilly, our family headed out to a close-by municipal airport for the monthly “fly-in breakfast.” If you’ve visited some of my past writings, you can probably recall our daughter Emily’s love of helicopters. We traditionally attend these fly-in breakfasts whenever our schedule allows; however it’s not too often we see a helicopter amongst the airplanes. This was a special day, however. Our friend, Fred, extended his stay in town for the weekend, before flying himself back home for the winter.
Fred has become a dear friend of our family. He’s a helicopter pilot, and his job takes him to various locations over the fair-weather months. Knowing this would be the last time we would have the opportunity to spend with him until next spring or summer, we planned a full day of activities to enjoy.
Fred, being a helicopter flight instructor, as well as an amazing pilot, has taken our Emily flying several times. He had given her the opportunity to try her hand at the controls twice before, and this day would be no different. As we approached the airport, we noted that amid the many small aircraft parked neatly in their rows, was the familiar helicopter Fred regularly flies. Emily’s excitement was building as she neared the hangar, for there inside waited her “Helibuddy,” Fred.
Being a special occasion, our parents from both sides came out for the morning. The made-to-order breakfast was delicious, and the company was enjoyable as always. And before long, the much-anticipated moment had arrived.
Emily and Fred sat in their usual seats up front, while my husband, CF, and his father, aka “Grandpa,” sat in the back. CF had been flying with Emily & Fred before, as have Sid (12-year-old son) and I, but this would be Grandpa’s first ride.
Before long, the crew of four lifted up, and out of our view. Unbeknownst to me at the time, as I was waiting for their safe return, Grandpa nearly pulled a stunt that could have been disastrous. On the doors, there are these little emergency handles that say, “Door Jettison PULL”, which, when pulled, will remove the door. Grandpa apparently saw it as a handle to grab onto when readjusting himself in the seat. Fred happened to glance over that way while Grandpa was grabbing for the “handle,” and yelled, “HEY, DON’T TOUCH THAT!”
It is quite possible, when the Door Jettison is pulled, that the door can open and become ripped off by the air turbulence of the rotors. Worse yet, the door could be flung into the tail rotor; forcing the pilot into emergency landing maneuvers. Helicopters can sometimes be landed safely with a damaged tail rotor; ah hem…sometimes.
So in all of my angst about flying (in general), it apparently wan’t my 13-year-old daughter flying a helicopter that I should have been worried about; it was Grandpa in the back seat! Oh he meant no harm, of course, and he was the first to admit his mistake to me. I’m sure I was speechless, as the other three sat there with eyebrows raised, nodding their heads like, “Yep, that really happened!”
Besides all of that excitement, Emily did get to do a fair share of flying them around. She even practiced hovering, which I’m told is a difficult maneuver to learn. CF remarked that she did a very nice job of flying, and I could see he was proud. And although I have yet to develop a “love” for flying, I am happy for Emily that it brings her so much joy. And some might wonder how it is that I can be so fearful of flying, yet I allow my daughter to partake in it? I will tell you this, it has everything to do with putting my trust in the man upstairs, as well as the one sitting next to her.
Once everyone was safely on the ground, it was time for the next adventure…
We discovered early on, that Fred is a dirt bike junkie; or so he calls himself. Ever since he spent a day hanging out with us at Sid’s and CF’s motocross (mx) race this last spring, we had been meaning to take him riding. Fred’s no stranger to dirt bikes, in fact, he’s got a few scars to prove it. So after borrowing a friend’s bike for the day, we set out for Sid’s favorite mx track.
The guys weren’t even an hour into riding, when Sid came back with a very flat back tire. Noting that the air escaped rapidly when we tried to inflate the tire, it was evident the tube was shot. Not willing to succumb to the thought Sid would have to sit out the rest of the day, I was determined to drive home, or anywhere to find another tube. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a spare one in our trailer that we didn’t know we had :-).
The next obstacle would be a the lack of tire/tube-changing tools on hand. Although not the “ideal” setup, CF and Fred managed nicely with a pry bar and screwdriver (and a fair share of muscle). It wasn’t long before they managed to get Sid’s bike back on the track in working order.
We were all impressed when Fred attempted the jump called the “Downhill Double”. Over the years, that jump has perplexed many a rider, including my husband. I remember what an accomplishment it was when CF got the nerve to try it. So we were all surprised, and quite excited, when Fred mastered it his first afternoon there. Way to go, Fred!
Emily enjoyed some leisurely riding as well. Her bike was at home, missing a clutch lever (undoubtably the one Sid has on his bike); thankfully her brother was happy to share his ride for the day.
They rode for hours and hours, taking full advantage of the incredible fall temperatures the afternoon provided. And as you can see with the dust hanging in the air, the wind was almost nonexistent; a rare occurrence in Nebraska. When they decided to hang it up for the day, the sun was going down; a perfect setting for our weenie roast back home. We headed over to Gram & Grandpa’s house, started a fire in the ring, and sat around eating chili and hot dogs. Our feet were toasty warm by the fire as we sat around recapping the day’s events.
Both Emily and Sid came home home that evening saying it was “The best day ever!” Who could disagree with that? Granted, we can’t help feeling a little sad that we won’t see Fred until spring (at the earliest); we are so very thankful to have had this incredible day with him before he returned home to his loved ones.
Thanks for stopping by for a visit. Have a blessed December!