Skye and I went flying together today for the first time. The last time I’d been flying as pilot-in-command before this weekend was less than a month after she was born. I was excited to take her as we’d be spending one-on-one time doing something I am deeply passionate about.
During the preflight briefing I instructed Skye to tell me if she felt sick and if she did to look out the window. I also told her that if she had to vomit to do so into her jacket and NOT the airplane. She was confused at first but agreed that it would be easier to clean the jacket than the airplane. We got the keys to the Cessna 150 I was renting, did the preflight together, and strapped in. I put a headset on her so she could hear me and to protect her ears from the loud engine. I placed her mike directly in front of and touching her lips so she could talk to me during the flight.
We taxied to 1-8 and were third behind two other single-engine pistons. After those two aircraft departed it seemed like every aircraft around was dropping out of the sky. It was fun for me to watch several bizjets, turboprops, and pistons land in front of us. Skye also seemed to enjoy the show.
As we rotated and ascended Skye looked out the window in wonder as the buildings and airplanes got smaller and smaller. She exclaimed, “We’re flying!” As we approached pattern altitude and turned north towards Moundridge I asked Skye if she’d like to do some “rollercoasters”. She said she would so I did some mild (0.5-1.5G) pitch maneuvers. She seemed to enjoy them. The remainder of the twenty minute flight was uneventful except for the mild turbulence caused by gusty winds. Skye remarked that the streets looked like lines and that she couldn’t see people.
About three miles southeast of the airport at Moundridge Skye told me her stomach hurt. I told her that we’d be on the ground in a minute and that as long as she wasn’t going to throw up I wasn’t too concerned. She said she DID need to throw up and requested her jacket. I tried to talk her out of it thinking it was all in her head but soon found myself entering the downwind leg of the pattern for Moundridge runway 1-7. I grabbed her coat from behind the seat and handed it to her. I reminded her to vomit only in the jacket and to look out the window.
Moundridge Common Traffic Advisory Frequency is shared by multiple airports in the area. I keyed the mike to announce my turn to the base leg, “Moundridge traffic, Cessna 7-8-6-7-uniform turning base for runway…”. Just then the cherries and yogurt Skye had for breakfast were making their way up and out. The violent and unappetizing sounds of a child vomiting were now being transmitted to everyone monitoring 122.9. The wind was from the south at around 27 knots and gusting so we were getting hammered. I had to fly the plane and get it on the ground. There was nothing I could do for her.
What was going to be a touch ‘n go turned out to be a full-stop landing so we could clean Skye. Luckily Moundridge Municipal has an open public pilot lounge with a bathroom. We cleaned her and her jacket and returned to the airplane. I told Skye we had to fly home and asked her if she was going to be okay. She said “no”, that since we were at the airport we should just go get in the van and drive home. She thought we were at the much larger airport we’d departed 30 minutes ago. I explained to her that we were at a different airport and there was no van in which to drive home. I told her if she just looked out the window and kept her jacket close she’d be okay.
As soon as she was buckled in her seat her eyes were fixed out the window. We took off and flew the short distance to where we were going to take pictures. She didn’t seem to mind all the steep turns and circles I had to fly to get the pictures I needed. Shortly after finishing taking pictures and heading south towards Wichita I noticed Skye appeared to be asleep. I flew all the way home and did a straight-in at Jabara, taxied, parked, and turned off the airplane. When I woke Skye she seemed confused and disoriented but relieved the flight was over and we were finally home.
Three lessons: select a calm-wind day for a child’s first flight, don’t tell them they may feel sick, ALWAYS carry a sick sack in the flight bag!