First Flights (then and now)

Before my grandfather was born, a barnstormer puttered to a halt on the family farm in small town New Jersey. The plane was a military surplus Jenny, bought for around $50 then and now a prized museum piece.  The pilot was selling rides for $5 a person but my great grandmother decided that was too much. However, her father said that she should go because she might not get another opportunity, and paid for her first flight.

Curtiss Jenny similar to the one my Great Grandmother took her first airplane ride in.

Fast forward 15 years. My grandfather is young and wants to fly so desperately that he builds a glider out of some wood covered in bed-sheets. The result was a concussion, but as they say “A landing that you walk away from is a successful landing”, so technically that was his first experience taking to the skies and it was “successful”.  When he wasn’t finding affordable ways to fly, he would ride his bike eight miles down the road to the nearest airport whenever he saw a plane fly overhead.  Eventually he got his first ever airplane ride in a Kreider-Reisner biplane, and the flying bug was stuck in him for good.

Fairchild KR-34.jpg
A Kreider-Reisner biplane similar to the one my grandfather took his first flight in

Just recently I had the privilege of taking my girlfriends younger brother up for his first flight ever at Capital City Airport in Frankfort, Ky.  I heard how excited he was about going up so naturally I got excited and tried to think up of ways I could make the experience the most fun he has ever had.  The reality was not quite what I was expecting, or rather, what he was expecting.

This picture pretty much says it all. A super excited me next to a terrified kid.

The first thing he said when he beheld the little baby Stinson was “It’s too small” and the second thing he said was “I don’t want to do this”.  I thought he might have just had the jitters because it was something unknown to him and he needed reassurance that it was just like flying in a big airplane only more fun.  However, as soon as we broke ground and took to the skies like a ferocious bird of prey he asked me “how long do we have to fly”?  I suddenly understood that at that moment he believed that I was making him ride with me against his will and it made me feel terrible.  I just wanted him to enjoy it as much as I do, but the simple fact of the matter is that some people love it, some people hate it, and some people simply tolerate it, and you definitely cannot force anyone to fall in love with it.


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