My first time ever in an airplane was when I was 10 years old, through the EAA’s Young Eagle program. The guy who sponsored me was this older guy who flew in the military and owned his own little Cessna 152 out at the local grass strip airport. He took me up a couple of times, and needless to say, that experience was one of the most influential of my life and has since shaped much about my career.
Cut to today, 16 years later: My mom said she saw the guy in the grocery store. He apparently still remembered me because he asked what I was up to. He was, I’m told, delighted to hear that I had become a pilot all these years later. And though I’m not flying professionally anymore, I’m still working in the industry largely because of the flight I took with him so long ago.
The guy’s gotta be pushing 80 years old. It turns out he had a heart attack recently, and hasn’t been able to have his medical certificate reinstated, so he’s been grounded. He told my mom how much he misses flying and how all he wants to do is get back and go up in his plane. At this point I was like, “Sooooooo, you told him I’d go flying with him then, right?!” And my mom says, “No, I almost did, but I didn’t wanna commit you to something without asking.”
I’m like, “MOM WTF!?! That would be the coolest thing ever to go flying with that guy in the first airplane I ever flew in! I would jump at that opportunity in a SECOND! Are you crazy!?!”
Anyway, she thinks she can get a hold of him and tell him I’ll go flying with him if he wants to go up sometime. I can’t think of any better way to repay the guy for all he’s done for me. I hope this pans out.