Takes to the Air
To My Uncle Treetop: THANK YOU! By: Kevin Billingsley
As a young boy I would always watch my Uncle fly. He would take off turn around in the air and fly over, sometimes even wave at me. Standing there in his yard amongst the five acres of runway I would look up and think how cool it would be to fly. He always did his pre-flight checks and I would just stand and watch and wait to hear these words, CLEAR PROP!!! And it seemed only seconds he would be up over the field across the old gravel road. I even sat in amazement by his garage while he warmed it up before flight going up and down his yard as if it were a go cart. Trying to figure out how those props, I called them fans could move him and that machine so quickly. That was when he was flying an old Paraplane and even today with all the new and improved machines I still feel like a little boy watching and waiting. But my wait was soon to end.
He has been going to Hops for years and I started tagging along for about two years now. He has tried to get me up in the air for awhile but every time it was my turn it would rain or the wind would pick up and I began to feel as if I were to never fly. But that changed at Hops 20th Anniversary Fly in. Again I felt like I did when I was a kid with my camera in hand I watched my Uncle do his warm up on his machine, Pre-flight checks and then I waited I heard those all to familiar words, CLEAR PROP!!!!! As he waited for them to give clearance it was as if I were back at his old house sitting by the garage watching and all at once he was off and flying. He returned and we chatted about how the winds were up there and then he said the words I have been waiting for, you ready it is a beautiful day for flying and of course I said yes. Now this was all new to me I have watched pre-fight but never have I walked through it. I asked millions of questions and he always had an answer. After pre-flight he strapped me in and as he was helping me with the straps I looked up and asked, were you nervous on your first flight? He answered with a smile and a slight laugh, yes but I was flying a Paraplane. Then he strapped himself in and we waited.
We were looking for the green paddle but others were landing so we had to wait. But then He said CLEAR PROP!!!! And I felt my fears increase. As the seat rumbled from the engine behind me I thought, Wow I am really going to do this but before I could finish that thought we were moving. The grass below us seemed to blur, Other pilots and friends seemed to be standing still as if they were watching our every move then it happened up up up up up we went. I never felt this before it was great looking down at the fields and houses I realized we were flying. The wind was a little unforgiving but I enjoyed every minute of it. As the wind was blowing us up down and making us turn I kept looking at the risers amazed that they held us up. As I turned to the front he made a hand signal that we were going it was too windy. I said ok. It was great flying but I never really thought about the landing I was having to much fun to care how we were getting down.
We started our approach back to hops and it hit me we are landing and I was watching everything. As we came closer and closer I saw the green paddle and felt some kind of comfort seeing that green paddle. As we descended back to earth the spectators seemed to move again and the grass wasn’t so blurry and contact we landed. It was great I un-buckled my harness and stood there in amazement that I actually flew. I turned to my Uncle and said: “It’s like being on a swing and a motorcycle at the same time and sign me up for class!!”
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