First Flights
Taken someone on their first airplane ride?  Introduced a friend to the joys of General Aviation?  Had your first flight and want to share the experience?  Post your story in this thread and inspire others.
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June 13, 2018

Seven year old Liam had his first ever ride in an aircraft a couple of days ago flying commercially from Pennsylvania to Colorado.  His grandfather had arranged a flight for Liam and his sister Emma in my T-41B during their visit.  Emma has some prior experience in light aircraft and granddad has been a want-to-be pilot most of his life.

We departed Fremont for a loop over the Royal Gorge, then on to Salida in smooth air.  Liam was duly impressed with an aerial perspective, but soon wanted a hand at the controls.  Much to Emma’s discomfort, I turned the yoke over to Liam and he was soon making course and altitude changes, some of them on purpose.

We landed at Salida and enjoyed brunch at Pancake Patio.  On the way home, we circled Grandpa’s house and waved at Grandma.  Liam had another go at controlling the airplane and even started using the radio.  Despite Elizbeth’s eye rolls, Liam has the makings of a pilot.
As a postscript, Grandpa was inspired enough by Liam to make an offer on a Cessna 172 and arrange flying lessons.  Who says the young can’t teach the old new tricks.


June 15, 2018
During the pre-flight brief at the Stonehenge Fly-Out from Missoula, Kelsey was introduced as looking for an empty seat to ride along.  I offered my right seat with the caveat that she take a look at the Tailwind, which is pretty small.  She accepted without hesitation.
As we got acquainted, I learned Kelsey was 21 and considering flight school.  An uncle had given her a few rides in a Cessna 152, but she had never had her hands on the control of an aircraft.

We departed last in the slow group, my plan being to lag behind, shoot pictures over the Bob Marshal Wilderness, and use the Tailwind’s speed to catch up as required.  We were soon S-turning along behind a C-182 on tundra tires doing 90mph.

As we leveled off I offered Kelsey the opportunity to fly the airplane.  She accepted, I gave her a brief overview of the rudder, stick, altimeter, VSI, and ball, and she took over.  She was a natural.  She quickly correlated the rudder pedals and ball and was flying smooth S-turns maintaining distance behind the C-182 while holding altitude.  She also proved to have remarkable situational awareness.  She had all six of the aircraft in front of us in sight while I could only pick out three.  She proved adept at spotting other aircraft throughout the flight.

With Kelsey at the controls, we swung out east in a wide arc, taking in the Bob Marshal Wilderness and the southern reaches of Glacier National Park.  I gave Kelsey headings and shot pictures while she flew.  We were both enjoying ourselves.  Kelsey piloted the plane right to Stonehenge, then observed as we did a standard pattern and landed at the suddenly busy private strip.

Returning to Missoula, I handled the take-off and landing, letting Kelsey fly the route home.  She picked up the GPS immediately and hewed to the magenta line, maintaining altitude with 100’.  I don’t know if she was pulling my leg concerning prior flight experience, but if not, she’s going to be one good pilot.

Shelly is the airport manager at Big Piney Airport in Wyoming.  I met Shelly during a fuel stop enroute to Missoula.  I stopped at Big Piney again on the way home.  We chatted about aviation and I learned Shelly was a local girl who had only ridden in an airplane once before.  She’d had a ride in a light plane doing sage grouse spotting.  She had not enjoyed the ride, but liked the experience.  I offered her another ride before I took on fuel and was on my way.

We were soon airborne doing a clockwise loop over town.  The wind was picking up and the ride was a bit bumpy.  We spotted and circled Shelly’s house, then swung north for a look at the mountains and a small reservoir.  The bumps continued and Shelly confessed to the onset of nausea.  We immediately returned to the airport.

Shelly disembarked with an unsettled stomach, but enthused about the ride.  She is tempted by aviation both by her job and the fact that her daughter is starting college in Durango in the fall.  Durango is a six hour car ride or a one hour airplane flight.  I hope she chooses to aviate.


Randy, Zander, Aria, and Pravesh are experienced world travelers flying commercially, but three of the four had never before been in a light aircraft.  Randy has some time at the controls back in his youth, but never got his ticket.
Randy’s family homesteaded in the Wet Mountain Valley, so Zander, Aria, and Pravesh’s introduction to general aviation was a flight out of Silver-West Airport (C08) over the family ranch.  We were blessed with a calm, but warm morning, making density altitude a factor at the airport’s 8,290’ (2527m) elevation.  The T-41B’s 210hp and constant speed prop are a real asset at high altitudes.

Accompanied by Robert in a Meyer’s Little Toot biplane, we flew north up the Wet Mountain Valley, circled the Bluegrass Festival in Westcliffe, then circle the family ranch waving at family members, cows and calves.  On the way back down the valley we climbed to 11,000’ (3,352m) and cruised along the eastern flanks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  Robert treated us to a few aileron rolls along the way, getting oh’s and awes from his aerial audience.

Everyone enjoyed the flight and a big breakfast at the Rancher’s Roost Café afterwards.  Here’s hoping both youngsters and adults are inspired to pursue aviation further.

Kayelan politely described her first flight in a light aircraft, a C-182 jump plane, as nauseating and unpleasant.  Blessed with a calm Monday afternoon following a weekend of snow, I took her for a tour of the Royal Gorge in a Wittman Tailwind.  Her smile says it all.