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Mary's First Flight

It was a typical fall day in New Mexico around the middle of October 1993 with a temperature span of 55 to 87 degrees.  The blue sky was sprinkled with those puffy cumulus clouds, and it was probably between 65 and 70 degrees when we got ready to fly.

Over the years as we visited my mother and sister in Walkerton, we would go out to Hop's and watch the paraplanes.  My husband had always wanted to fly, so on his 69th birthday I purchased a First Flight Instruction package for him.  He made his first flight on 6 July 1992.  After returning to NM and talking with several friends about his experience, two other couples decided to join us in purchasing a Buckeye.  We ordered it through Hop, then on 15 April 1993 we went back to Indiana and picked up our Buckeye from the factory in Argos;  returned home & assembled it.

Let me tell you a little about our flying field.  It is an old dry lake bed surrounded by mesquite bushes and other desert plants.  The beautiful Organ Mts. are about 10 miles to the east and the Dona Ana Mts. 3 or 4 miles to the west.  This is about 10 miles east and north of Las Cruces.

The 3 men had been flying for 4 months.  Back in May I had gone thru Lessons 1 and 2 where you familiarize yourself with the aircraft, engine and controls without the parachute, then taxi to get the feeling of ground handling.   I had read the instruction booklet several times.  Well, on the morning of Oct. 12th the men all decided I should have Lesson 3, where you taxi with the inflatable wing.  They made sure my helmet was on right and that I was strapped in okay and gave me some last minute instructions and advice.  I started down the runway, got the parachute overhead, but instead of closing the throttle and shutting off the ignition switch, I guess I just accelerated too much and took to the air.

My sister and brother-in-law from CA were out with us that day. They said when I took off our partners got excited and told Lloyd he'd better get on the radio and talk me down.  I was thinking, "Dear God, now that I'm up here, please help me get down".   I managed to stay calm and think about what I needed to do.  After leveling off I decided I needed to get back to our field.  I made the turns fine and soon landed just a little past the area we had marked off for our field, but luckily it was still a pretty barren area with no mesquite bushes or other growth to cause any problems.  Everyone came running over to help me out and get the Buckeye back on the field ready for the next person to take off.  They told me I did just as Lloyd instructed - making the turns and then coming in for a landing. I told them I never heard any instructions.  Either the radio wasn't working - or it was never turned on in the first place! The 3 men flew for 15 or 20 minutes each that same day, but I'm sure none of them felt the thrill that I did on my first five minute flight.
 

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