Flying With Dad: Liz's Memories

Liz's story as told to AOPA.

Photo courtesy of Liz Lekarczyk

My dad has always been a huge supporter of all of my ‘crazy’ ideas, especially when it came to taking flying lessons! Although he is not a pilot himself, the story why is one that makes me love him more, if that’s even possible!

Ever since I was little, I wanted to fly. My dad took me to my first airshow at Selfridge ANGB when I was young, and I remember the two of us walking through the grounds, seeing all the planes up close. When show time came, we made our way to the grass area, and took our seats (which were not very close to the flight line). Seeing that I was little, and very short, I wasn’t able to see the airplanes flying very well. My dad saw how upset I was, so he put me on his shoulders, and walked up to ‘air show center’ so I could have a better view of the airplanes. He even gave me his camera so I could take photos to have as my own, personal souvenirs! (He later bought me my own camera as a present because I was always stealing his at the shows).

As I got older, my dad and I started going to every airshow in the area together. When I was eight years old, we returned to Selfridge and I was absolutely amazed with one performer in particular. My dad and I are both avid photographers, so we were constantly taking pictures of all the performers, especially this one. While we were driving home, I had a crazy idea to drive back the following day and have this performer sign one of the photos we had taken. So, when we got home, my dad and I got on our computer, and each chose a photo we liked. The next day, we made the hour drive back to the airshow, where we were able to meet the pilot and have him sign our photos. This became a ‘hobby’ of ours, that even to this day, we take photos of the performers, print off one we like, and ask them to sign it the following day. Needless to say, we have a collection of signed photos of nearly every airshow pilot we’ve seen perform!

My dad has always enjoyed flying radio controlled airplanes, and got me hooked on this type of flying when I was in my teens. We would go to an RC field together, and spend a day flying the planes. However, flying ‘real’ planes was another story. My dad knew how much I wanted to fly, but deep down, he had a passion for everything Aviation related, and wanted to fly ‘real’ planes as well. As every pilot knows, training is VERY expensive. After my mom received her license, my dad was going to receive his as well. I remember asking him if he was taking lessons, and he always joked ‘no, I’m too old’ or ‘I don’t have enough time’. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered the real reason he wasn’t flying. When it was his turn to get his license, I was almost old enough to start my training. My parents didn’t have enough money for both my dad and I to get our licenses, so my dad gave up his dream of flying so I could pursue mine. I asked him why he never said anything, and he replied ‘because I didn’t want you to give up your dream so I could have mine’. Every time I think of that conversation, I begin to cry. My dad’s love for me and my ‘crazy’ dreams is what keeps me going every day.

Thanks for the memories and Happy Fathers Day, dad! I love you with my whole heart!

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