Everyone has heard of "take your son or daughter to work day" and many have enjoyed seeing what their father does for a living. Our children know that their dad is a pilot and have even flown on a plane while he's been the captain of it. However once the cockpit door is closed there's really no telling what's going on in that little room. At least up until now.
This week our family had the privilege of being passengers on a "ferry flight". The purpose of a ferry flight is to transport an airplane to and from a particular location for various purposes. In this case, our jet was going in for routine maintenance and we were picking up a jet which had just received new carpet and updates. Ferry flights occur without paying passengers or a working flight attendant. The captain and first officer are the only ones on the flight except for whomever they decide to invite.
I don't think the kids and I have been this excited in a long time (and that's saying a lot since we've been on some pretty cool adventures lately). Also along for the ride was Dennis' father, or granddad as the kids call him. I think he was as thrilled as we were to see what his son does during a standard flight.
Our destination was a short distance away, just barely 15 minutes from take off to landing but the preparation was lengthy and very professional. Every detail, checklist, and radio call was checked and double checked. Nothing was done that wasn't first verbalized and then concurred with. The meticulousness of the entire operation left me completely in awe. I can't imagine remembering all the buttons and knobs or understanding the charts and radio calls. It was almost like watching two people speak a different language.
James and Granddad were the first up in the cockpit to witness the take off. The girls and I took our seats in the back enjoying every minute of being in an airplane with no one else aboard. Snacks were served, announcements made, and beverages passed out. Between Emily and Kat, I felt like I was getting first class service.
Upon landing at our destination we were allowed to take a quick peek at an engine being worked on. How it is even possible that someone knows how it works just blows my mind. I am glad there are some really smart people working on those engines!
On the flight back Emily and I got to sit up front. What a view! I think the thing I liked most was watching my husband physically "fly" the plane. Watching his hand on the throttle, feet on the pedals, making radio calls, pushing buttons, and turning dials, it was all so impressive. I've seen him fly a simulator before and a trainer plane, but this was even more remarkable.
As our flight came to a close we could pick out landmarks on the ground and then eventually the runway. Seeing it all lit up and watching the plane land - while we faced forward instead of the usual side view - was so cool. I know there must have been some pressure on Dennis to make a perfect landing with his whole family watching and believe me he didn't disappoint. The wheels touched down with a gentleness and ease that made it seem like we had barely been in the air.
I can honestly say it felt like a 'once in a life time' experience. I now have a greater understanding of what his job is really like and I know the kids do too. Do we have any future pilots in our household? I'm not so sure, but we may have a few flight attendants in the making. One final thing I want to say is how thankful I'm am that we decided to homeschool our kids this year. I'm sure this trip would not have been possible if they had had to go to school the next day. It's times like these that remind me of why we are making the commitment and sacrifice to make sure they get an education that encompasses so much more than what can be taught in four walls. Praise God for another real-life experience.