This weekend will mark another occasion to celebrate dads across the world, to BBQ, to have fun. The weather is scheduled to be beautiful in the New York City area and I am rest assured traffic out to Long Island will be en masse with parks and beaches filled to capacity.
This year for my family and I, however, will be different. It will be the first year without my father who passed away on 23 December 2011 from stage five Renal Cell Carcinoma. A cancer that originates in the kidneys that has been more common than in previous years, hence finding responsive treatments for this type are still in the process and researched.
There is so much to say about my father’s life, however, I will say this about him: not only did he love to sail, but he also loved to fly.
He was a Platinum member for the Northwest Airlines WorldPerks Program and he would always share his experiences with me of his corporate travels. I was and forever will be greatful to my father for giving me the gift of not only loving to fly but also having given me the opportunity to fly first class with Northwest on two occasions.
Ironically this weekend also marks a special occasion for me: my first flying experience ever on any aircraft. I like to call this event my wedding anniversary to aviation. All it took was one flight. A marriage made in heaven. There was no dating process, no matchmaker. Why? Because it was a marriage made in heaven. Every now and then I will have mental flashbacks to the very day that started it all … some twelve days after my graduation from high school. I remember my mom on the phone with my Spanish teacher getting the details. I also remember asking my father, the frequent flyer, what it was like to fly and be in the air. I was craving it.
The waiting in the Detroit airport (yes, back in the day before the amazing remodel and construction of the EdMac Terminal) when it was a literal garbage dump. I have mental flashbacks of looking out the terminal window at the beautiful Northwest Boeing 747 that would take me to a place where it was no longer Kansas. Somewhere over the rainbow. The thrill and rush of adrenaline feeling the thrust of the 747 plummeting down the runway. The feeling of it raising up and most of all the feeling of not being on the ground anymore – that was the pivotal point. The turns overlooking the airport and the city of Detroit. The realization that there is another world yet to be discovered than that on the Earth’s surface. The most memorable of the flashbacks was the descent into Amsterdam’s “Skipple” International airport. The massive water currents like silk, the many edgings, inlets and canals that paved into the lush green carpet that was farmland. I knew that from sunset to sunrise (which was only three to four hours in length) that I was about to see the other side of the rainbow. Not only that, I was about to come to reality of what my passion in life is: to fly. Not only as a passenger, but later on, as a pilot.
Every year I have a play-date with Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 to take this trip down memory lane. This Sunday evening, I will be doing my annual mission from Detroit to Amsterdam-Schipol. I have personally picked two outstanding pilots to share the left seat as Captains to take this trip with me. They call the shots as I call out to fly “Shotgun!” I couldn’t have picked a better pair of pilots to take this trip down memory lane as I consider them both family:
First, an outstanding pilot who has thirty plus years experience in the commercial aviation industry, to which during that time, she was an operator of the Boeing 747 with Northwest Airlines during her career. We always share the memories we have with NWA. I look forward to her visit to New York in November to share these memories even more..
Second, an outstanding pilot who has devoted his time to giving me the 747 “crash” course, instruments training, and helping me knock out the quirks of the PMDG 747 software. I have spent many hours with this person on the simulator and in real life flying. It will be an honor once again to have him sitting in the left seat on such an important mission to me.
This Father’s day we celebrate fathers from all over; some with us, some not. They are a testament of who we are and what we have become, and what we will become. I am sure that for those who have fathers who are no longer, they are looking down from the skies above begging us to reach up and grab our fullest potential. To grab wings and let them carry us to our final goals to live fulfilled lives and to land success.
For those with fathers here, cherish every single moment you have, because life is way too short.
For with these words, I bid