A girl, her pilot and their plane

Our next adventure was just the two of us. We planned to fly to a restaurant called Patti’s, eat some of their famous two inch porkchop and boat sinker desert and enjoy a gorgeous night flight back. I was super excited about flying at sunset…I’m a huge fan of the flying sunset scene in the movie Pearl Harbor (can you say super romantic)

As you can see, the view was out of this world. The pictures really do not do it justice. The flight was smooth, and when it wasn’t, I really didn’t notice because of the full glass of wine I was nursing on the way there. 

Little did we know that the “fun” wouldn’t begin until we landed. As he did his post flight checklist, I called Patti’s to let them know we were at the airport ready to be picked up. It wasn’t long until we saw a vehicle headed our way. 

Now I must preface the next part by saying I am a country girl; I grew up in a small, farming community. I am in no way against small and slightly dirty, pickup trucks…that’s just not what you want to see coming to pick you up at the airport for a romantic dinner in your cute clothes and carefully fixed hair. But, that is in fact, what we got. 

A little white pickup with an official park seal on the side pulled up to where we were waiting. The older gentlemen rolled down his window and asked if we needed a ride. My boyfriend and I glanced at each other before confirming that we did indeed need a ride. The driver then proceeded to clean a spot so we all three could cram into the little bench seat in the front. Even though it was uncomfortable, I was determined nothing was going to spoil this night. 

As we drove, the driver told us about the various wildlife that inhabited the park and pointed out an eagles nest among the trees. A little further down the road he asked how long we planned on staying at the park. We explained to him we had just flown in to eat at Patti’s because of all the wonderful things we had heard about it. 

“I’m from the park service, I can’t take you to Patti’s.” Was his horrifying response. How could this be? We had called Patti’s for a ride hadn’t we?

Unsure of what to do or where to go from here we told the driver just to continue on to the State Park and we would figure out from there. I was starting to get a little nervous…hell, a lot nervous. How had we got our rides mixed up? Once we reached the park we called Patti’s again and told them our situation. Our real ride was actually at the airport and they would have them come pick us up from the park. 

While we waited for them to get there, again, we tried to piece together what happened. All we could surmise was the man from the park must have just been driving by and saw us and we assumed he was our ride. Thank God he wasn’t an axe murderer who was just waiting to pick some helpless jet setters up from the airport! 

Once we got to Patti’s they were phenomenal about getting a table ready for us even though we were an hour late for our reservation (I think they felt sorry for us and our ride blunder). Our food was amazing and their service was even better. I could have eaten my weight in the strawberry butter and flower pot bread. I very highly recommend this as a place to add to your fly too list. 

I also highly recommend never to get into cars with strangers! 

Journey to Lambert’s

8:25 A.M. – We are T-minus thirty five minutes before take off on our first trip. Heading to Sikeston, MO to take his kiddos to Lambert’s, home of the throwed rolls, to eat. He has already at the airport making sure everything is in order.

Definitely excited and a little nervous. I’m always scared I will fail him in my Co-Pilot duties. It will be a learning experience for both of us I believe.

11:20 A.M. –  We made it!!! We are in Sikeston and headed to Lambert’s. Flight was AWESOME! We couldn’t have picked a better day to fly!

12:30 P.M. – We are stuffed from the wonderful food and even bringing home some of their big cinnamon buns for later. Might even take a nap on the ride back.

1:45 P.M. – Getting ready to head home. Our first cross country journey has been crazy amazing so far!

The Danger Zone

  • Flying lessons – Check
  • Fly solo – Check
  • Night flight – Check
  • Pass checkride – Check

Finally, FINALLY…he was officially a pilot. After a year and a half of studying, flying, and me constantly up his tail (pun intended) he had done it. It was enough to make me want to drive down the taxi way, fist bumping the air to the musical stylings of Kenny Loggins.

The day after he passed his checkride we got up early and headed to the airport for our first official flight as Pilot and Co-Pilot. I was so excited! It would just be me, him and the open sky. We loaded up (I was finally in the front seat!) and I watched anxiously as he completed the pre-flight checklist. As we taxied out, my heart raced with anticipation. I felt the plane take flight and begin to climb, watching out the window as our town became smaller and smaller.

I will never be able to accurately put into words the emotions I felt as we flew, just him and I. I couldn’t believe we had actually made it to this moment. He had taken a dream and made it into a reality. Looking down at the ground from five thousand feet made me feel like anything was possible; looking at him confirmed that it was. This amazing, wonderful man that I love took a limit and went beyond it.

The Final Countdown 

It was finally here. The blood, sweat and tears from the past eighteen months had come down to this moment…the check ride. A day full of oral exams and flight maneuvers that separated the boys from the men who would be pilots.

I was so excited I even bought us matching shirts! Mine, of course, said Charlie while his said Maverick. Can you even be a pilot without loving the movie Top Gun? We already had to reschedule once because of weather, but this was it, it was going down (hopefully not the plane!).

I could hardly concentrate at work that day. I’m surprised I didn’t wear out my phone checking it every five minutes. Finally, that afternoon, the text came through…

HE WAS A PILOT!

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I’ll never forget the relief and pride I felt at that moment! I couldn’t believe that everything he had worked for and all the things we had talked about were finally going to happen. The freedom to be able to fly just the two of us…I was ready to just sit in the front of the airplane.

It was definitely a day to remember!

Everything that glitters…is a town

One of my favorite adventures on my journey as Co-Pilot was our night flight. By now, I was an experienced Co-Pilot…and by experienced I mean I no longer felt the need to drink three shots of tequila before flying.  We arrived at the airport just as the sun was setting. It was already a breathtaking view from the ground, but nothing could have prepared me for the absolutely stunning view we had when we got up there.

We loaded up, me with my blanket in the backseat and him and his instructor up front. By the time we were ready to take off the last glimmer of sun was leaving the horizon. Our course was simple; take off and land a few times at our home airport then fly to a nearby town thirty miles away to do a few take offs and landings there before returning.

After we took off and started to climb, I watched mesmerized as the lights from the houses and street lamps began to twinkle like sprinkled stardust over our town. It was more than I could have ever imagined; and the best part was, the person I love was flying us over this magical scene.

Finishing in our town, we started our quest toward our next target. As we trekked through the inky blackness of night, the glistening lights became more and more sporadic the further we got away from town. I could hardly tear my eyes away from the window. Flying at night was definitely the way to go!

Before I realized it we were halfway to the the town we were headed too. I could look behind us and see our home and look ahead of us to see our destination. I will never forget that feeling…the realization of almost being in two places at once. If his instructor hadn’t been there I would definitely count it as one of the top ten romantic moments.

The flight itself was successful, but the feeling it gave me was way more than that. It reminded me that magical moments in every day life can occur…you just have to be willing to look for them.

 

Excuse me but your door is open…

My first flight was surreal to say the least. It was a perfect morning and though I was nervous, I was also ready to share this experience with him. It wasn’t too cold for autumn but we brought a blanket anyway (good thing to keep in the plane or your flight bag, by the way).

Before we got there he was “briefing” me on how it was going to go and what to expect. I would be wearing a headset that the pilots use to communicate with passengers in the plane, other pilots in our area and any towers that were in listening range. It might also be a little more bumpy than commercial flights so not to worry if it’s not as smooth as the commercial flights I was used too.

Braced with my information and sheer determination to enjoy this moment we loaded up in the tiny, four seater Cessna. I sat in the cramped yet cozy back seat while he sat in the pilots seat with his instructor by his side. I had full faith in my boyfriends flying abilities, but it still made me feel a little less nervous that we had an experienced pilot in there.

I watched as he went through his checklist, turning dials and checking things off. As we started to taxi out I noticed the instructor had his door ajar. I didn’t think much of it at first but as the seconds turned into minutes, I became more and more panicked when he still made no move to close and latch it. The further we got down the taxi-way the faster my heart started beating; my eyes riveted to the door that needed to be closed…NOW. I mean, this guy was the instructor right? I had horrible visions of taking off and the door swinging open from the pressure while we are all sucked out…or left in the plane as it plummets to the ground!

Finally, I could wait no more…I had to save us all! Interrupting what was probably an important conversation, I immediately blurted out that the door was still open.

“Yeah,” My boyfriend responds, “There isn’t air conditioning in here and we don’t like shutting the door until the last minute so we don’t get hot.” They both return to their pre-flight rundown as I slowly try to melt into the back seat.

Needless to say I didn’t speak anymore for the rest of the trip. But, other than feeling like a silly nincompoop, my first flight was absolutely amazing! The view was breathtaking and just the experience of watching him fly took my breath away!

Tiny, flying death box

When I first started dating my boyfriend he had just begun taking his pilot lessons. I wasn’t very involved other than to ask, “How was your flight?” and to request he text me before take off and after landing to make sure he didn’t pull a Goose on me. It had taken me a long time to find a great guy like him and I really didn’t want to have to start looking all over again.

When it first because real for me that he was going to be a Pilot was the day he did his first solo six months later. They actually took the shirt he was wearing during his solo, cut the back off and wrote his name and the date to commemorate the occasion. They called it his “tails”.

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I started to face the reality that we might actually fly somewhere…together…in that tiny, flying death box.

I hated flying.

Our first commercial flight together to Vegas I had cried when we experienced the slightest bit of turbulence. How was I going to not freak out when it was just me and him 5000 feet in the air?! To get myself used to the idea I began to go to the airport to watch him fly. I would park in the tiny parking lot of our small town airport, sit on the hood and watch him take off, fly around the pattern and land.

It was so impressive (and a complete turn on) that he could actually fly a plane that I was awestruck. I became more and more excited to fly with him and less scared about freaking out. Not to mention the doors it opens for travel opportunities. We could actually fly to the ocean for a long weekend at the beach! Heck yes! I was actually ready and couldn’t wait to go up with him for the very first time.