Although he is just two years old, my grandson Alex has already flown internationally, to France and Spain, and has flown on airliners for nearly two dozen flights. I'd not yet had the opportunity to fly him, however, in our airplane, since he lives in California. For GrandMa and GrandPa's Christmas present this past year, Alex was able to come and visit us with his Mom and Dad to the Great Northwest.
Our Warrior was just getting out of its annual, and I was able to fly a good test hop after the annual to make sure all systems were in top shape for Alex. Although it was mid-January, our Northwest weather cooperated with a decent day, with no rain and temperatures in the high 40's. After my check flight after the annual, Alex, Mom and Dad met me at the Renton airport, where we strapped Mom in the backseat area, with Dad and Alex strapped in the left front seat, while I flew as pilot-in-command from the right seat.
Alex is a very inquisitive two year old who loves to explore, but we weren't sure how well he would do wearing a headset. Once he saw everyone else wearing them, and heard our voices over the intercom, the myriad sights and sounds on the airplane made him forget all about the headset for most of the flight. We were in business!
With Grandma/Babci taking photos outside the airplane, we cranked up and taxied from our North Tower parking slot to runway 34 at Renton, with Alex enjoying all the aircraft parked along the route, plus the aircraft taking off and landing at Renton.
Beside his enjoyment viewing the other aircraft as we taxied, Alex had a blast trying to touch every instrument, knob, button and display within reach, especially the colorful GPS monitor. He took notice when we ran up the engine for our before takeoff checks, and took a firm grip on the yoke to 'help' with flight control checks.
Once we rolled on to the runway and began our takeoff roll, Alex paid close attention as we broke ground and smoothly became airborne into the afternoon sky. Takeoff from runway 34 at Renton immediately puts you over the water of Lake Washington, with great views of Seattle to the northwest. As we climbed out, Alex noted the boats and "baby cars", his term for the apparent small size of the autos below as we climbed out over I-405. Does a 2-year old understand that he's actually flying in an airplane? This 2-year old does!
We continued climbing as we headed southeast, then made a few circling turns as we made a sightseeing pass over our neighborhood. Alex loved the motion and the views below, and he firmly grasped the yoke, rolled his arms and body into the turn, saying "Turn, Dziadzi (Grandpa) turn"! That boy is strong, as I kept a good grip on my yoke to avoid undo aggravation to a slightly morning-sick Mom in the backseat.
We continued south for some closer views of Mt Rainier, showing Alex the "baby boats" on the waters of the numerous lakes in the area. Although Alex was strapped in well, he still was able to see well to the front and side, and often checked to make sure his Mom in back could see the sights as well. After I let Alex try his hand at a few more 'enthusiastic' turns, Mom decided that her son's mild aerobatic lesson was at an end, so we settled down for a more stable and sedate cruise back to the Renton airport. Alex got a bit antsy with the airliner-like flying, but became very observant as we descended down short final, with views of the close hills, homes and cars near final approach.
Alex, you did great on your first 'real' airplane flying, and I can't wait to get you back in the air with me again for more "turns, Dziadzi, turns"!