When I was young, my dad started taking flight lessons, so coming to the Isbell Field Airport became a family event.

To me, there was nothing more exciting than knowing that my dad would one day be a pilot. I remember the day of his solo flight. We sat inside looking out at the runway for what felt like hours when all of the sudden I heard mom say, “Here he comes, girls. He’s going to land it.”

Dad will tell you that the landing wasn’t perfect, but to me, it was the smoothest landing I would ever witness. I knew all along that he would always make the landing.

The next thing I knew; the back of his T-shirt was cut off as an aviation tradition and hung on a quark board by the main entrance.

That was all the verification I needed. My dad was a pilot. I remember the first time I flew with him in his own plane. In my eyes, it was a different world up there.

I couldn’t see how anyone couldn’t like it. I remember when I found out that mom and Nicole weren’t as keen on flying as I was. They would say, “I prefer to keep my feet on the ground.” So, in time, flying became something dad and I shared. He even called me his co-pilot.

One day he said, “Your mom and Nicole don’t like to go up as much as you do.” He laughed and said, “They are dead weight.” I looked over at him and through my headset I asked him what dead weight was. He said, “It’s the weight of someone who is just sitting there not doing anything; not helping or hurting anything. You don’t want to be dead weight.” From that day on I knew I couldn’t be dead weight in the plane.

When we would get to the hangar, I would help dad with the plane. I would remove the propeller covers, move the wheel scotches, wipe down the windows, and anything else dad asked me to do.

Although there were times when the rhythmic sound of the engine would have me laid over asleep in the backseat, I never considered myself dead weight. I trusted my dad so much that I could fall asleep in the plane and stay asleep until the wheels were on the ground. I trusted him to be aware of other planes around us. I trusted him to make it through turbulence, to know how much fuel we had, and to always find our way back to the runway.

From day one, I had all the confidence in the world in my dad as a pilot, and although my faith and pride in him wasn’t of a physical assistance, I do believe that I have never been dead weight in his plane.

See, I knew that as long as I was his passenger, and as long as he was piloting, no matter the weight or situation we were in, he would always make the landing.

Kayla Beaty is a staff writer for the Times-Journal. Her email address is kbeaty@times-journal.com.

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