Rudy Aloft

Yesterday was a nearly perfect flight. I’m trying to get a few more hours in Two Sierra before we fly up to Fresno tomorrow. So I had a 10am flight schedule. Rudy had a cold, so he stayed home from school after picking up his homework. In the morning he worked on his math in the studio while I planned a little flight.

We drove to the airport and met Nick in the office at Proteus. He said the autopilot still wasn’t fixed. I said I’d just take the plane up for a little navigation work anyway. Rudy’s nose was buried in his Animorphs book, but he helped carry one of the car seats out to the plane. I strapped Dexter’s chair in and confirmed that they would both fit. I asked Rudy if he wanted to sit in the back or up front. He said he would probably be “reading most of the time,” so it made more sense to be in back.

I walked around and did the pre-flight. I climbed in and got everything set. Rudy was looking at his book already. He had on his headset. I picked up the information for the airport and called ground control for taxi clearance. We taxied to the run up, I wound up the engine to do the usual checks, and then we taxied over to wait at the start of Two One.

The tower cleared us to take off and I taxied out onto the runway. I said, “We’re taking off, Rudy,” and there was a whoop from the back seat.

“Let’s go, Dad! We’re off! Zoom it!” I firewalled the throttle and Two Sierra barreled down the centerline. I put just a little back pressure on the yoke and we flew off the runway with ease. Rudy continued cheering from the back seat. As we sailed up through five hundred feet above ground level his cheering subsided a little and he started saying, “Oh, wow, look! Oh, from up here you see the streets… like… oh, there’s the beach. Wow.” We crossed the shoreline and made our right turn and headed toward Point Dume. We hummed along for a little while and I tried to get the air traffic controller to hear me. Finally I gave up and switched the position of the headset plugs, just as I did over the very same spot on the way up to Santa Barbara.

“Dad, the ocean is so beautiful from up. I can’t even believe it.” I agreed. “Except the sun on the ocean sort of hurts my eyes sometimes.”

That was the last of the observation. Children who could transform into animals grabbed his attention. He rode happily for the remainder (with one query over Van Nuys about our estimated time to touchdown). I flew up over Point Dume, homing in on the Ventura VOR. I turned inland before I got to it and was buffeted a little as I climbed over the small mountain range that separates the coast from the valley. I turned south toward Van Nuys and talked to SoCal Approach. They assigned me a transponder code so that I could be routed through the Class Charlie and Class Delta airspace near the Van Nuys airport.

Two Sierra hummed along with a tail wind. We made over a hundred twenty miles an hour over the ground. As the Sepulveda Pass came into view we veered through it, with the entire crescent of the Santa Monica Bay stretched out ahead of us. SoCal washed their hands of us and told us to talk to the Santa Monica tower, who wanted us to head for the sea before making a sharp turn inland again to join the north downwind for Two One.

Rudy came alive in the back seat again, as I pointed out his school and various places he would know from the neighborhood. He complained that mostly there were shops and houses, and not enough of the things he would know, like the Third Street Promenade. I commiserated as I turned base after a sleek little experimental plane.

We touched down better than most of my landings and taxied back to Proteus to shut down. A little closer to being comfortable in the plane.

This morning I woke up from a dream. I was ordering something in the dream, but the clerk I was talking to kept glancing at me funny. In the dream he finally said, “You keep smiling, what’s going on?” I said it wasn’t anything in particular, it was just that I had gone flying with my son that morning.

Tomorrow the whole family.

About Colin Summers

I am an architect, programmer, private pilot, husband and father. A couple of those I am good at.
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