When I was a little girl my dad went on an adventure in his own life. He learned to fly airplanes. I don’t remember a whole lot about that time, but I do recall that his love for flying was definitely contagious.
At a young age, I was exposed to flying, not only through my dad’s desire to become a pilot, but also through my uncle Cleo. I suppose that my dad was greatly influenced by his older brother, since Cleo had a small airplane and flew it at my grandfather’s ranch in western Nebraska quite often.
When I was just a small girl it was my privilege to go with my dad while he was getting his “flying hours.” We would charter a Cessna, or some other small plane, load up in the front two seats, and move down the runway after the control tower cleared us for take off.
I remember the increasing speed as we moved down the runway, the lifting off into the sky, and the only noise being the hum of the engine. The view from the side window was amazing. What seemed so large on the ground was so tiny up high. I would tell my daddy, “Everything looks so small.” We would fly over the entire city of Lincoln, Nebraska, and some of the smaller towns in the area.
My dad would occasionally give me on of the two steering wheels, telling me, “It’s your turn, little co-pilot, take us for a ride.” Of course, he never let me steer for long, especially, since I could barely see over the control panel, let alone through the windshield. But, just holding that steering wheel for a moment gave me a thrill I have never forgotten. I truly felt like a little bird flying above the world.
One thing that my family is never neglectful in reminding me of, was that I was always my daddy’s “sleepy little co-pilot.” I’m not sure why, but it seemed every time I would go up with him in the airplanes, I would fall asleep on the way back to the airport. I loved flying with my dad so much, that I literally needed to “come down” from the thrill!
It came to me the other day when I was looking through some old keepsakes, that while I was on one of my “training flights” with my daddy, I had the opportunity to meet some wonderful women pilots. One afternoon when we landed, several other small planes landed around us at the airport. My dad questioned the control tower about the congestion of planes, and he was informed that several of the women involved in the “Powder Puff Derby” were refueling.
My daddy quickly made contact with one of the women pilots, and introduced me to her. She gave me a book that had pictures of all the women pilots involved in the derby. She proudly signed her picture. That day, I spent several hours running around that airport landing area getting autographs. I still have that piece of history in my memorabilia collection. I swore then that I too would be a woman pilot one day.
To this day, flying is something I not only enjoy doing, but I’ve put on my bucket list of accomplishments. My goal is to own and fly my own plane. Robyn Mitchell, Queen of the Road and Sky—has a nice ring to it!