By Eric Groves on flightservicemanagement.com -
I have recently had a privilege few parents get to experience, but before I tell you what it was, I’ll give you a little history. It starts back in 1997, when I was still doing flight instruction on a daily basis. For those of you who have instructed, you now what that is like.
You put in very long days, trying to squeeze as many students in as you can, trying to “strike while the iron is hot”. You also tend to overlap students, knowing that your next student can get the pre-flight done as you finish up with the previous one. Well, after instructing for three and a half years, I had the opportunity to move into the world of Air Taxi (charter).
At the time, I worked for someone who also owned this charter company, so for a while, I continued doing the instruction, while transitioning into the charter company. After about six months of doing both (instruction and charter), I made the transition completely over to charter, all of this taking place about the same time my first son, Jonathan, was born.
For those of you who are parents, you know what kind of changes take place when you have children. You start to make plans for your children as you wonder what the Lord has planned for them as they grow up. Well, without boring you with all the minor details, we fast forward 16 years to Friday, April 26th.
Over the years, I have been maintaining my flight instructor certificate by renewing it every two years, just in case any of my children would want to learn how to fly. As it turns out, my oldest, who turned 16 just a few days before the 26th of April, told me he wanted to learn to fly. I took him for his medical 30 days prior to his birthday just to make sure he would qualify with no issues and then we began the lessons two weeks before his birthday. Unfortunately, we ran into a few days where we were unable to fly, due to low ceilings or excessive spring winds.
Finally, on Friday the 26th of April, we were able to finish up and my son was able to SOLO. For me, it was very different than soloing any of my previous students. The fact that it is your own son, makes it an entirely different experience. However, for my wife, it was a terrifying event, that she was truly thrilled to have completed and now behind us.
There are very few 16 year olds that can say they have flown an airplane by themselves. My son is very excited about continuing to fly over the next 12 months as we prepare to complete training on his 17th birthday, when regulations allow him to get his private license.
Chief Pilot, SSC