Payton and Alex fly

Rite of passage aircraft for new pilots
Payton Kashmier
Alex Kashmier

This morning I bolted awake with a frightening thought: In just a few hours my grandsons Payton and Alex will be at the airport looking forward to their first flying lesson. And they’re expecting me to be their instructor.


Yes, I’ve been flying for more than fifty years. Yes, I’ve logged five thousand hours as pilot. Yes, I have nearly a thousand hours as instructor. Yes, I’ve flown this particular airplane hundreds of hours.

But in the last eight years, I’ve flown less than fifty hours! And over the past week, several instructors here at Skill Aviation have subtly suggested (but not required) that I get a little more practice before flying solo.

Diamond DA20

Am I really ready? Not just to fly . . . but to fly as instructor . . . with my grandsons as student.

More than once Marie has pointed out that Tauruses are stubborn. I’m a Taurus. Does that make me stubborn? Maybe so.

Or maybe my mind is stuck in a rut . . . I’ve promised the boys a flying lesson . . . I expect to be their instructor . . . I should be able to fly this plane solo . . .  the flight is scheduled for noon today . . .  there aren’t any other times that will work . . . there’s no time to get more practice before taking the boys up. 

News flash: It didn’t have to be me. Skill Aviation has a strong team of instructors – many of whom I used to work with. It would be disappointing that I wouldn’t be sitting next to the boys . . . but the disappointment would be mine, not Payton’s or Alex’s. Get over it, GrandpaLyle. The boys will still be thrilled.

When I shared the new plan with Grandmarie, she was delighted. Then she rewarded me (as she often does) with this text: 

Thank you! Two excellent pilots on the flight leaves me very comfortable with the most precious cargo.

And some great lessons for the boys:
1. Safety is a top consideration in most events – so you can live to enjoy future events.
2. Plan B is out there. You just need to find it.
3. Don’t let the ego be the driver.
4. When you make a commitment, do everything you can to keep it.
5. GrandpaLyle loves his grandsons very much.

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