The little guy is just plane crazy. He'd really like to be a pilot someday - and this year things started in that direction. For Christmas, from his aunt and uncle he got a gift certificate for a local flying school which could be used for either a lesson or an intro flight.
Since I knew he was getting that, it was pretty clear we had to provide something to match. I figured a headset would be a good idea - especially one that could be used along with the computer. (Microsoft Flight Simulator's pretty much always running.) Found one at Aircraft Spruce and Specialty for a reasonable price - and the little guy had the most amazing Christmas ever!
Yesterday we went out to the flight school and redeemed the certificate. The trainer was a Cessna 172 with a Garmin 1000 glass cockpit retrofitted, so right away he was familiar with things. (Thank you, MS-Flight Simulator!) The instructor ran him through the preflight, had him do hands-on pretty much everything from checking the control surfaces to checking the oil, to draining the fuel sumps and inspecting the gas, to checking the prop for nicks and the leading edges of the wings for dings. Then it was inside to do the prestart checklist - and then, we went flying. (I was stuffed into the back seat. Didn't complain at all - it's not often I get a free (kinda) ride like that!)
The little guy went through the prestart, the starting checklist, and the after-start checklists... all the time the instructor was explaining things clearly and concisely. We taxied out to a hold point at the end of the active runway, and fter runup, the little guy called for clearance, then we moved out onto the runway... and a few seconds later we were in the air.
We flew out over Lake Allatoona, saw Allatoona dam from the air, circled around and found our house, went through basic maneuvers with the instructor - and Aaron handled himself pretty well for someone who was having a dream fulfilled. The time up, the instructor brought us back around and got us onto the runway - and after landing had the little guy taxi us back.
We debriefed - and again I was impressed with how well the instructor covered things. I was very comfortable with the way he handled things. We talked about what the little guy wanted to do, how often he should fly to be ready to solo when he turns 16, and then how he'd need to practice to be ready for his check ride at 17.
The only thing is - it's not going to be cheap. The little guy knows this, and we're already looking at what he's going to have to do to fulfill his dream. It'll be all the sweeter for him if he has to sweat for it - and I'm thinking it's about time to buy a new lawnmower anyway... so if he's interested in mowing lawns to pay for flight lessons, I'll provide him the means to earn his dream.
We'll see what happens. But I'm sure hoping the dream will stick.