On a cold and overcast evening, an eager young pilot in rain boots ran across the tarmac towards a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. This was her second time as a Courageous Flier so she was familiar with the process and ready to fly.
Grace became involved with Flight1 after her father, a commercial pilot, passed away from cancer. She is a very brave pilot, one of the few children to skip the stationary simulator and go right to the more realistic motion sim for practice. When asked if she was nervous, she smiled and shook her head no.
She eagerly went through the checklist with Certified Flight Instructor Dave Remondini, insisting on being part of everything from checking the fuel to inspecting the wings. Soon it was time for flight. Grace’s took two of her favorite babysitters flying with her for the first time. They climbed into the back before Grace took her place in the pilot’s seat.
Grace wanted to get an airborne view of the Christmas lights in downtown Indianapolis. Takeoff was around sunset and we all had our fingers crossed that she would get her wish. As a new Flight1 volunteer, I had never witnessed a child flying a plane before. I was dumbfounded when I saw the wheels lifting off the pavement. It was such a unique opportunity for her!
The plane landed about half an hour later and Grace immediately jumped out, ran up to her mother, and exclaimed, “I got to talk to the big airport!” The controllers at Indianapolis International spoke to her like she was any other pilot. What a surprise it must have been to hear Grace’s voice over the radio! She went on to say that she did indeed see the Christmas lights downtown and flew right over the Colts’ stadium too.
Grace filled out the logbook then proudly accepted her shiny green Year Two wings with a tremendous grin on her face. She is the first Courageous Flier to go aloft after dark and is already very excited about her next flight.
– Victoria Overdorf
Photos by Steven Fleenor