My son was right next to me as I called the airport to cancel the flight. “It’s a no go today. These clouds just won’t let us in the air.” Reid is just weeks away from turning seven and he has never been flying. Not on a commercial airline, and not with me, a Private Pilot working on my instrument rating. I have the plane booked for Monday – two days from now – and the weather couldn’t look to be better. This cold front and resulting wind will be through and gone in the next day, leaving nice high pressure and clear skies with super light wind for his first flight. We’ll be leaving out of my home airport of Thomson-McDuffie (KHQU) near Augusta, Georgia, and flying a Cessna 172SP the relatively short distance up to Athens, where I served as the President of The Flying Club of UGA in my time there (go Dawgs). Reid and I have spent hours at the Athens airport from the time he was a baby, being airport bums and watching the planes. He’s also had his eye on a little pilot bear with a leather jacket and flight goggles in the main terminal there.
I have a responsibility to fulfill on his first flight – on several levels. A first flight is best under very smooth air. Even I had to spend a little time letting the somewhat unnatural sensations of flight become normal again after a recent seven year hiatus from flying. Have you ever closed your eyes in a car (as a passenger, of course) and payed attention to all the sensations? Try it sometime. You use your abs more than you think. And the bumps and shifts would be quite alarming to someone who had never ridden in a car. The same principle applies in the air. You just have to get used to it, so start off easy.
The other responsibility lies somewhere between a father’s dream for his son and a pilot’s charge to inspire others to pursue aviation. I want Reid to enjoy flying, partially because my wife, Haleigh, and I plan on flying places as a family as a mode of transportation, but mostly because I hope he wants to learn to fly someday. He shows a lot of interest already, having gotten his hands on my flight simulator and flight yoke I have set up on the home computer.
My wife, Haleigh, and son, Reid watching planes at the Peachtree Dekalb airport (KPDK).
My son is named after the man who taught me to fly. Reid Columbia was the President of the Flying Club of UGA before me and was, and still is, my friend and mentor, both in life and in aviation. This journey I’m sharing with you is not the traditional path of a pilot to build time and get to the airlines. That just doesn’t sound like my cup of tea. I have a passion for teaching aviation. I have tools that I want to create and information I want to share with the aviation community. Stir that in with having a son with an interest in flight, and what you have, my friends, is this blog – the journey I call Clayviation. Hop in and fly along. Beginning with Reid’s first flight this coming week, I’ll share my flights, learnings, and experience as a pilot and with a future pilot in the making.