I arrived at Lock Haven’s Piper William T. Piper Memorial Airport at precisely 9:59 a.m. The plan was to meet at 10:00 and fly to the Ponderosa cabin north of the airport.
I parked my little Ford next to a handsome Porsche. I stepped out of the car, a twelve year old again, and full of anticipation as I took in my surroundings. I scanned the tarmac through the security fence for the Cessna 150 or my brother. I could not identify machine or man, so I headed to the office adjacent to the parking lot.
Inside I struck up a conversation with the natives. They had not seen my brother, but they did share my enthusiasm for flying and soon I found out the man I was speaking to was an instructor. I got the full sales pitch for flight lessons from an instructor. I probably could’ve been signed up on the spot.
“Lock Haven traffic, Cessna 11479 is 4 to the north, inbound for landing 27 right. Full stop landing. Lock Haven.”
The words over the radio sounded. “That’s your brother?” I quickly opened the email that told me what Cessna I was to expect and indeed, it was! I quickly stepped outside looking and listening for that distinct buzz of a boxer-type engine.
It took a minute or two until I spotted the small aircraft on approach. He came in over the trees and levee as I cringed as if trying to help him fly, but he nailed the landing with a chirp of the tires and was soon taxing towards me.
I suppose I am allowed some brotherly pride, right?
The Cessna 150L was remarkably small inside, only two seats, and was a bit hot without air movement, but was comfortable enough. I put my headset on as Kyle switched on the intercom and yelled “clear prop” as a precaution before turning the engine over…
Life! The four cylinders sputtered to a relatively smooth idle…
We continued through the pre-flight rituals designed to identify those things that could end a sunny day with a violent death and before long we were looking down the length of the runway with the intent to defy gravity.
The engine revved, the brakes released and we were rolling. The little Cessna still had what it took!
Soon the ground slipped away and the town of Lock Haven turned into the world’s most wonderfully detailed model train set. We gained altitude, then turned north towards the sea of trees and swells of mountains north of the town below. We flew over a baseball game between people who looked like flees. We passed a gas drilling rig in the wilderness…
It didn’t take long before we spotted the small airstrip cut out of the trees.
We were later than the initial plan. But as we swooped in for a high speed pass we could see the crowd of spectators gathered. Our siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents wanted to witness this historical event and also to prevent anyone from crossing the driveway that bisected the small strip while we were on approach.
We circled around for a practice run and were too high. Kyle corrected for the final approach. The runway sloped upward at a slightly awkward angle and I made sure my brother was aware of that tall tree nearly blocking the trajectory we were on.
Kyle wagged the wings ever so slightly to avoid the obstruction as we dropped through the trees and set down on terra firma again. We survived! No violent death or unexpected drama either…