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Jake's first flight

September 21, 2010 - Ron Deuter
My son Jake, 3, has always had a fascination with airplanes. Even before he really learned how to speak, he would always point out airplanes in the sky.

A trip this summer to my parent’s house was right up his alley, as they live about 20 minutes from O’Hare airport. The constant traffic in the sky was amazing to Jake, and anytime we were outside, he would be sure to let everyone know anytime there was a plane overhead.

“Look, nother airpane,” he’d exclaim with a big smile pointing skyward.

Taking Jake to this past weekend’s Airport Day was a no-brainer. I knew he’d love it. And it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me that he’d see people getting in actual airplanes and decide he wanted to try it too.

We weren’t even there for five minutes and he asked me, “Dad, I go up in the sky in a big one airpane?”

I sort of shrugged it off by telling him that he could go up in an airplane when he got bigger. They had Young Eagle flights available for kids, but the minimum age was eight.

Then I saw a few tables inside offering 15-minutes rides to anyone for $20. I thought, why not?

I decided to ask if I could go up and bring along Jake. The pilot said it’d be OK, but only if I had a booster chair for him to be seat-belted into. I ran back to the car and grabbed Jake’s booster and within minutes we were boarding.

I’ve flown countless times in my life, but only on large commercial aircraft. This small-car with wings we were about to enter freaked me out a little bit. I felt my heart-rate climbing and sweat starting to form as I crammed my 250-pound frame into the passenger’s seat.

It didn’t help my nerves when the pilot pulled out a piece of paper with a checklist of everything she had to do before taking off. Isn’t that stuff she should have down by heart, I wondered. Is there a checklist for engine failure while flying?

Jake, seated behind me and the pilot, was grinning ear-to-ear, swinging his legs up and down in excitement.

Soon we took off and climbed to about 2,500 feet. The view was amazing. We flew northeast from the airport, looped around Lake Antoine, over Kingsford and back toward the airport. Our small community makes for a picture-perfect postcard.

Every once in while I’d peer back at Jake. His eyes were glued to the window, throughly enjoying every second, obviously not wondering what would happen if, say, the propeller belt snapped.

Soon enough we circled back and landed, smooth and easy. My subsiding adrenaline rush was leaving me a bit shaky. I turned to Jake and asked him what he thought.

“Dad, I go back up in the sky now,” he asked.



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