Flying With Dad: Steven's Memories

Steven's story as told to AOPA.

Photo courtesy of Steven Henderson

My dad was (died in 2010) an enthusiastic passenger, loved to fly commercially, was of the age to have been profoundly effected by Lindberg's flight.  He had a bad eye and that may have kept him from pursuing a pilot license.  More than that, he had 4 kids and we and mom were the center of his life. One particularly memorable flight was from Siletz Bay State on the Oregon coast to Bend OR in central Oregon.  He was retired by then, so he had a very flexible schedule. We took off early in the morning in my recently restored 1953 Cessna 180 under a solid overcast and foolishly headed a mile or so out to sea to the edge of the low lying layer, where we climbed up above it and then proceeded to fly VFR on top over the Cascades to Bend.  I was on my way home to Idaho, so Dad found a pay phone, called and arranged a bus ride back to Portland where my mom would meet him to drive back to their home on the coast.  He'd never flown very far cross country, just short hops before that, so it was quite a treat to have him go with me.  I was much more adventurous back then, but even so, such VFR on top flights were a rarity, and I suppose I was a lot more worried than he was.  The flight took place without incident, and it took the rest of the day for him to get home.  I was back in the hangar in Idaho long before he finally made it back to Salishan, but it was one of the few long trips we made, with just the two of us in the plane and I think he enjoyed it a lot.  The view of the scenery is odd when the valleys are all blanketed in low cloud, but even that was a source of wonder and amazement, when you are flying along in bright sun above.    I think of him often when I fly.  That he encouraged me to get my license and buy the plane even though neither he nor any of his relatives had ever been light plane people or pilots.  How he paid a pilot at an EAA fly-in $20 to give my younger brother and me a hop in a Gypsy Moth when I was 10, even though he didn't want to go himself.  What else can I say?

Thanks for the memories!

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