I knew something was up when an attractive woman wearing a fur vest walked to the back of the airplane during boarding and pulled my coworker aside on a flight from Dallas to New York. I couldn’t really make out what they were saying as I set up the galley, shoving snacks in a drawer and stacking cups in an insert, but it had something to do with a kid who had spent his entire summer babysitting while his friends went on vacation. The woman, it turned out, was the aunt who wanted to do something special for the boy, something that his friends had never experienced.
“Ya think he can visit the pilot during the flight?” asked the woman smiling brightly. “It’s his first flight.”
“No, I’m sorry, we don’t do that anymore, not during the flight,” said my coworker. “But you can take him up there now while we’re still boarding.”
The exchange reminded me of a conversation I’d had with a guy who recently told me about a memorable flight he’d had as a child. It happened back in 70’s when passengers actually dressed up to travel. He’d fallen asleep next to his mother and awoke to find that a pair of wings had been pinned to the lapel of his jacket. Not only did he keep the gold American Airline wings, he shared a photo of the jr. pilot wings, circa 1977, that the flight attendant had given to him aboard a B707. “It was the strangest thing,” he said, reflecting back on the flight in awe. So strange, in fact, the experience may have been life altering. Bryan is now a pilot who also creates aviation T-shirt art.
Bryan isn’t the only one who has experienced a memorable flight while growing up. I’ve heard several amazing stories over the years that have actually affected me! Now whenever I have kids on board I make it a point to march them up to the cockpit to meet the pilots. If they’re lucky they’ll get to push a few buttons and might even get a copy of the flight plan after we land. You never know whose future you may be shaping with one simple push of a button and a handful of paper.
With that in mind, I stowed the plastic mallet I’d been using to break the ice and made my way up the aisle to the front of the aircraft where I could see a familiar furry vest standing just outside the cockpit door. “Do you have a camera?” I asked the woman.
That’s when my colleague magically appeared with an iphone and said, “I’ve got it,” as she snapped a photo of the boy sitting in the Captain’s seat, a boy I would soon come to know as Cade, which is the adorable boy pictured above wearing the pilot hat. I decided to interview Cade later in flight.
NAME: (Spelling) C. A. D. E. W. I. L. L. I. A. M
Where do you live, Cade? White Oak, Texas.
What are you going to do while you’re in New York? See the Lion King
Fun! Make sure to visit Toys R Us and ride the ferris wheel, too. So tell me, what did you like best about the airport? The restaurants. And how the airplane is parked right beside the airport.
What did you like best about visiting the cockpit? Steering
What’s your favorite thing to do on the airplane? Look out the window.
If you could be anywhere in the world, where would you want to be? On an airplane, except not in this seat. It’s not a good seat.
Yeah, I know what you mean. First class seats are much better. Where do you think you’ll travel to next? Antarctica. Wanna know what I want for Christmas?
Sure. A baby penguin. But it might be hard to keep up with.
You might be right. I know a pilot named Kent pretty well who likes to answer questions. If you could ask him a question, what would it be? What states have you been to?
Good question. I’ll see if I can get him to answer it. Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? A scientist. Because I can draw dragons and ghosts and cars. Want me to draw you one? Want me to write you a story?
Of course! I’ll get you a piece of paper so you can get to work….
THE INTERVU ON THE PLANE, by Cade.
One day I got on a plane. And I got an intervu. And who did my intervu? Was Mrs. Heather. My Captin was sleepy so I helped him out and got to drive the plane. We got to New York!
What a great story! I’m really impressed. Okay, now do me a favor and draw a picture of a dragon while I double bag the coffee and offer the pilots a cup.