July 11, 2019
Tuesday and Thursday evenings are great to go fly because I am typically working in Buena Park (5 minute drive to the airport) or Garden Grove (25 minute drive to the airport).
I have a friend and his son that I have been wanting to take flying for quite some time now. We even had a flight planned, I think about 2 months ago, that was scrapped when I found a mounting bolt for the generator missing on pre-flight.
Sitting in church Sunday I was thinking that I really needed to take them flying when he came up and asked me “So when are we going to fly?” I asked what their weekday evenings look like and we made plans for Thursday.
My normal routine when taking someone for the first time is to get to the airport before them so that I could do a thorough pre-flight without any distractions. Then when they get there I can do it again, explaining things and answering any questions along the way without worrying about missing something because of distractions.
My friend has been in small planes before, but his 18 yo son has only been in a commercial plane once when he was about 4 yo. His son was nervous but I did my best to try and put him at ease, explaining the way the plane works, the safety features of it, the basic aerodynamics of flight, etc…
We pulled the plane out, took a picture, and got ready to get in. I wanted his son in the right seat so that “if” he wanted to fly it a little he could. His son assured me that he would not want to, and that he would rather be in the back. Still wanting him in the right seat, I explained to him that in the event we did have to land away from the airport in a field, on a golf course, or a street, the person in the right seat is the first one to get out of the plane. He agreed to be in the right seat.
After everyone was in, he was still nervous so I told him we would just take one trip around the traffic pattern and land. If he liked it and wanted to fly some more we would taxi back and take off again, if not, then we would just come back to the hangar.
After starting up and taxiing down to complete the run-up I called up ground and received taxi clearance to runway 24. There hadn’t been anyone else on the radios the entire time and when I called up tower for right closed traffic I was given clearance. I talked through everything that I was doing (it would have made an examiner proud) so that he knew what was going to happen before it happened. I had told him that I don’t like to surprise anyone when I take them flying.
We took off, began our climb, made a right crosswind turn, then a right downwind turn, leveling off at 1,096′ (maybe it was actually 1,100′). The tower cleared us to land as we passed the mid-field point on downwind. I continued to talk through everything: gear down, reducing power, beginning descent, slowing to flap speed, one pump of flaps going in, right turn, more flaps, line up on final, it’s going to be a little bumpy on short final as we pass over the warehouses, speed is good, those red and white lights mean we’re right where we need to be, we have the runway made, pulling power, hold it off right here until it’s done flying… and with that the mains touched down about as smooth as I have ever landed, followed by the nose wheel a couple of seconds later.
As we were rolling off the runway onto the taxiway I asked if he wanted to fly some more and he said yes. (Success!) Ground told us to taxi back to 24 on Alpha. I told the tower we were holding short for an eastbound departure and he asked if we wanted a right or left downwind. I told him we would take a left downwind and we were on our way.
We climbed up to 3,000′ and flew past his high school and their house, then headed south towards Dana Point and the coast. It was the most perfect evening to take someone on a flight, the air was relatively cool and as smooth as can be. As we got closer to the coast we could see the marine layer moving in. It was hung up on the coastal hills with the clouds slowing flowing over the hills like water in a stream going over some rocks, it was beautiful.
With the low clouds along the coast, instead of flying up the coast we reversed our route and returned to Fullerton the way we came. I asked if he wanted to fly it but he declined, so I had him just lightly hold the yoke as I showed him the inputs to turn, climb and descend. The sun was setting to the west as we headed north and had dipped below the horizon by the time we were turning west over Chino Hills towards Fullerton. The tower cleared us for a straight in approach and just like the first landing I talked through each step so they would know what was happening, as I had told them before, I don’t like to give people any surprises.
Just like the first landing, this one was smooth as can be. My friend told his son “Not all landings are that nice” and I replied “Not all mine are that nice either!”
Another great evening of flying with some friends, and his son went from being very nervous to fly in a small plane, to looking forward to the next time.