By Larry Shapiro
I love each month that has a theme. Some are good, and some aren’t. It seems that most have a food theme, and then I remember I write an aviation column, and I’m suppose to write about things that are suppose to make aviators happy.
It was at that point I remembered that making an aviator happy might be above my pay grade. Then I remembered how much alike we all are… but we are polite except for a few rude ones that sneak in. I know we all appreciate the kindness and help offered to us almost everywhere when we’re trying to survive a cross-country flight.
This reminds me how few pilots ever leave their zip codes or time zones after they are sitting on their private tickets. I’m serious! I have this discussion more often than I do about ice cream. Any new aviator that works with me gets the same suggestion: When you have 100 hours, beg, borrow, or even rent an appropriate airplane, and now the “kicker,” I beg, plead, and whatever it takes to get them to do the following trip, and… to do it solo.
Take lots of junk food, camping gear, a picture of your favorite folks, and any and all of the appropriate cross-county gear you “might” need.
Okay, now grab your pencil and write this down: Call and say goodbye to me and someone else you might love and fly 1,000 miles south and east. Land and stop as many time as you wish, and since you are alone, you have no one to ask or to worry about. I like to put it this way, you have the privilege of worrying about someone else, and you aren’t burdened by another person’s needs.
Now The Real Fun Begins …
You are now experiencing real freedom and know how real pilots feel. Your life and freedom are now going to look and feel like your first kiss.
The only way this works is if you do it “my” way. You will now solidify how much you really love aviation and may even be able to better decide which airplane fits your needs and wants.
Before I forget, take your camera, film, batteries, and remember to keep me posted on your progress. I promise this will change and enhance your future in regards to Aviation. I am willing to say that I have yet to get any negative notes, comments, and or threats on my life from people who have taken this bit of advice.
In fact, I’ve had more invitations to do the trip again with the newest “Sky King.” And some of the stories will have you on the floor… it’s that much fun, plus very educational. I know, I know, there are one or two of you that may not think this is a good idea! Heads up, I think you’re wrong.
Time to Turn!
When you complete your first leg, the first 1,000 miles, turn your airplane north… no, I don’t give exact checkpoints or directions. In fact, I want you to feel totally free to learn how good an aviator you are, or are going to be. In the future, you will continue to thank me and tell me more about your trip. Yes, you will probably do it again. If you don’t want to, you may want to consider a new hobby.
And now the most important part and the beginning of the end of your first major aviation celebration… you will never forget this flight.
Many of my most solid and precious relationships have begun with, “Larry’s crazy cross-country flight.” I love reliving the flights and stories that are born during this adventure. They are repeated many times during your first 5,000 hours, and you might want to come to my office to borrow something. I never try to talk you out of your perceived need… it doesn’t matter.
Okay, yes, things do happen, and that’s when the learning really begins. Airplanes break, tires go flat, and you change your mind a dozen times about your route. While it is always best to have a flight plan and be safe, you can change your mind anytime you want. It is up to you.
I always add that this must be done solo, except for the KFC and cookies… and if you insist, you can take a pet. Before I forget, don’t pay attention to what others have to say about this trip; it’s usually a lack of experience.
You might want to take some business cards, pictures of your wife, girlfriend, kids, and––okay, okay––I’ll give you one of me if you beg.
Now, when you decide when you’re going jump off on this amazing adventure, I would be glad to offer my input… plus clothes, sunscreen, hats, and or gloves. You know where to find me.
Also, remember to work on your SOS list and the other things you will think of. I am always available to help.
About the writer: Larry Shapiro is a senior aircraft broker, aviation humorist and a grandfather of three, and still the semi-best Event Announcer Coming to an Airshow near you soon, he hopes.
He’d love to have you share your thoughts and ideas for future articles. Palo Alto Airport Office: 916/804-1618 or Larry@LarryShapiro.com