It took 564 days…

…and it was worth the wait.

On September 21, 2017 I walked away from a silent auction as the winner of a one hour flight in a speedy single engine Cessna.

Five-hundred sixty-four days later, on April 7, 2019, Wayne and I flew to Farmington, picked up Dad, and flew back to Springfield. Total time in the air: 2 hours, 5 minutes. (Wayne is the pilot. It’s his plane. He donated the $750 dollar flight that I picked up for only one-hundred-and-eighty dollars.)
When I found out that I had won the flight, my first thought: “what the hell am I gonna do with this? who’ll go flying with me?”
As I walked to the car, I flashed on the obvious solution: help my 91 year old Dad have a new experience.
I called him as soon as I got into the Prius. I told him how much fun I often have at silent auctions….and that tonight I had won something with him in mind.

“Dad, have you ever flown in a small plane?”
“Well one time your Mom and I….”
“Not commercial dad. I’m talking single engine. Seats 4. Max. And everybody wears headphones….”

Dad was up for it!
And it looked like we might take the flight within a month.
Dad lives 200 miles east of Springfield. A few times a year he stays for several days at my sister’s at Table Rock Lake. One of those times was gonna happen in late October.
Wayne, Dad and I put 3 pm on 10/22/17 on our calendars.
Our one hour flight would take us down over Jasper, Arkansas and over Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock and Beaver Lake.
Dad would see fall colors and lots of water….a couple of his favorite things.

We didn’t fly on October 22, 2017. Low, heavy clouds.
Wayne said we could go up, but all we would see below us would be clouds.
We decided to postpone until Dad’s next stay at Paula&Don’s.
And then things changed.
Here is the entry from my journal the next day, 10/23/17:
“exchanged some texts with wayne. he tossed out the idea of flying over to get dad and then flying him to springfield. i like the idea. called the lake and left a message to that effect. hopefully we can make it happen.”
It took another 541 days until 4/7/19 when Wayne asked: “do you have the need….the need for speed!”

I’m not sure how many times after that day in late October two-thousand-seventeen that we would shuttle Dad from/to his place in Doe Run via automobile. At least 5 or 6 times.

There was conflict after conflict.
…a schedule conflict with the travel days for Wayne (he owns a business with operations here and in Chattanooga)
…a schedule conflict with the travel days for me (I told my sister she could take my seat if I was gonna be out of town on a date that worked…but she’s “not interested in flying,” aka chicken)
…we didn’t give Wayne enough lead time (yeah, this is another way of saying “schedule conflict”)

We got close to flying a couple of times. But close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and slow dancing…not in getting Dad an experience.
Finally, we were able to make all the schedules mesh and put a flight on our calendars. Early in the afternoon of Sunday, 4/7/19 I would meet Wayne at the airport. He and I would fly to Farmington and pick Dad up and then the three of us would fly back to Greene county.
And then it seemed that once again it wasn’t gonna happen: the weather looked like it was gonna put the kibosh on the day! Fuck me.
I have little or no faith in “crack meteorologists” and their forecasts, but 10 days out I started paying attention.
It didn’t look promising from the get-go…and then it got worse.
The first few days the “experts” were calling for some rain on Sunday the 7th. By the time Wednesday the 3rd rolled around their forecast was for afternoon rain and thunderstorms on Sunday.
On Friday it looked like not only would the weather be too nasty to fly on Sunday…if the forecast was right, we probably wouldn’t even wanta drive across the state that day.
It looked like I was gonna be driving Dad home on Monday, and it would be back to the drawing board.

Wayne and I talked at noon on Saturday. He was optimistic that there would be decent weather if we pushed the time back a couple of hours. It wouldn’t be great weather, but Dad would be able to pick out some landmarks.
I told him that sounded good to me, but that I did have a couple of questions: “You don’t happen to be a doctor or EMT, do you? And are you concerned about ferrying a 92 year old across state who has had a pair of “three nitro days” in the past week?”
Wayne laughed. “No, I’m not a doctor. You don’t want to take a chance and postpone again do you?”
He was right. None of us are getting any younger…and none of us are promised tomorrow.

I’ll always remember April 7, 2019.
We woke up at our happy place, Shady Acre Motel, after a great Saturday evening of music by The Nace Brothers at The Rock House.
We had brunch and mimosas on our balcony at The Abbey.
Then I headed to the airport to finally meet Wayne after almost 18 months of lots and lots of text messages and several phone calls.

The flight in both directions went by too quickly. A tail wind got us there in 55 minutes. Randy and Dottie had driven Dad the 5 or 6 miles from his place outside Doe Run to the Farmington airport. It took us 70 minutes on the return flight. There were some scattered clouds. Otherwise, the weather was perfect.
Dad loved it.
I loved it.
So did Wayne. (He took a great selfie. Dad is the oldest person who has ever flown with him in the 30+ years he has flown. Wayne is a fantastic pilot. Perfect landings, even with a 20mph crosswind in Farmington. I have flown in small planes several times, and never experienced better touchdowns.)

I made two FB posts with pictures that afternoon. {In my journal I often include an annotation for FB posts.}
FB at 4:46 pm
On the ground in Farmington.
Greene County…here we come!!
{picture of wayne, dad, me in front of the plane. taken by dottie.}   

FB at 7:42 pm
We had the need.
The need for Speed.
Melvin, Steve, Wayne…pilot extraordinaire.
It was a great day.
It was a great day to fly.
{the selfie that wayne took of us. when we took off from spfd he asked me “do you have the need?” and he asked dad the same thing. he told me that it was from the movie top gun…and then I remembered.}

My social media day on 4/7/19 started with this FB post:
FB at 8:23 am
This will be me and my 92 year old dad this afternoon…his first time up in a small plane.
Details and pictures later.
{link to “treetop flyer” by stephen stills}

It ended this way:
FB at 8:10
Perfect ending to a wonderful weekend.
Saturday night at our Happy Place.
Final Four.
Friends; Music; Music by friends.
Hotel sex.
Mimosas on the balcony.
Flight with Dad.
Binge watching with my baby.
Red sky at night.
{picture of a red sunset from our balcony}    

Great memory.
Great experience.

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