A Father’s Day To Remember

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.

 

 

United States Air Force

Wearing The Captain’s Hat

 

 

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.

 

 

My itinerary from the school with mom’s notes and reminders. Note how the school labeled “KLM Airlines” and “Northwest-ERN” (Cute)

 

 

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

 

 

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

jeremy

N121US: The Fallen Angel

It was the evening of June 17, 1996.  The wedding reception was at Detroit-Wayne County Metro Airport in Romulus, Michigan.  The ceremony took place on a beautiful Northwest Airlines Boeing 747-200 as Northwest and KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines were the masters of ceremony.  The ceremony lasted all night long until the morning as it took 7 hours and 55 minutes to complete.  The celebration took place at Schipol International, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.  It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Whose wedding was this for?

My marriage to (commercial) aviation..

The previous night I had spent in the living room avoiding not only packing for the trip but also avoiding such movies as “La Bamba” and “Airport” (1970) as they were all plastered on the television that night.  There was a specific scene in the movie “La Bamba” where a recurring dream Ritchie Valens (played by Lou Diamond Phillips) has of a midair collision between two planes that actually occurred directly over Ritchie’s school, in which Ritchie’s best friend was killed by one of the fallen aircraft.  Whenever I thought of that scene it brought me back to when I was eleven years old and my grandfather took my brother Ryan and I to place which as of 52 years ago today was one of the U.S.’s worst aviation catastrophes:

The Perish of Northwest Orient Flight 710
March 17, 1960

N121US: The Fallen Angel

It’s origin was Minneapolis.  It’s destination was Miami.  There was a brief stopover at Chicago-Midway.  The equipment, a Lockheed L-188C Electra with 4 Allison 501-D13 Powerplants, registered N121US, left the stopover at Midway only to loose contact with Indianapolis ARTC Center over Scotland, Indiana maintaining a cruise of FL 180 (18,000 feet.)  Probable cause was the “separation of the right wing due to flutter induced by oscillations of the outboard nacelles. Contributing factors were a reduced stiffness of the structure and the entry of the aircraft into an area of severe clear air turbulence. “  The aircraft went down in the area near the area of Cannelton and Millstone, Indiana near Tell City.  Fifty-seven and six crew were aboard.  There were no survivors.

The Kiwanis Electra Memorial Site at Night. Photo courtesy of David Clendenen.

Northwest Orient 710 wasn’t the only crash of the L-188.  Two had crashed prior to this one.  It makes one wonder..I remember my grandfather telling my brother and I what had happened on the site like it was yesterday.  I was terrified from that moment he finished the story to fly and vowed not to do so.  When I left the wooded area, I saw the beautiful Kiwanis Memorial that was erected by the public.  The spine chilling yet comforting message was strong:

Photo Courtesy of David Clendenen

There was a reason why I went to that site when I was eleven.  There was a reason why my first commercial flight was with Northwest.  The pure irony of it all..  The safety measures which were taken with my first commercial flight on that day took away all of my fears.  Not only that but I was married to aviation on that day.  How can we make this the case for everyone?  Just like the memorial, we need to echo that message and echo it strong.  We do not need any more angels in the skies falling down to keep reiterating the safety message.May the memory of the souls on board this flight be a blessing and a reminder that we should always strive for the goal to make our skies safe.

jeremy