March 11, 2013

Women in Aviation, Amelia Earhart Style

Yowzers.  I am one LUCKY lady.  Let me rephrase that... we are one fortunate family!

Last week, a friend of mine sent me some information about Women of Aviation Worldwide Week.  I visited their website and read this:

Individuals and organizations come together and open the gates of airports for girls and women during Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week (March 4-10, 2013).

Mission:  To foster diversity in aviation by celebrating history, raising awareness, and shaping the future of aviation.  

And most importantly, the opportunity to fly in a small aircraft for FREE!  What a fantastic thing!

I emailed the Chatham-Kent Municipal Airport and made a reservation for Gwen.  She couldn't wait and neither could I.  Only five other girls had signed up. I was thrilled for her!  The last (and only) time I flew in a small plane was when I was twenty and while it was memorable, it was not at all enjoyable.  I had been treeplanting in the bush near Timmins when I got a call telling me that my Dad had been killed in an accident.  Someone had made arrangements for me to fly on a four-seater to the nearest airport and I was completely hysterical the entire flight, sobbing like mad, the tears never-ending.  It must have been hard for the pilots.  I did not look out the window and enjoy the scenery; I did not relish my small aircraft experience.  I felt like my heart had broken.  

BUT.  This flight experience that Gwen was about to have would be totally different: she was going to fly with a friend - a joyous experience!  My friend Maria and her daughter, Maya, were accompanying us, along with RB and Nathanimal.  We drove the 55 minutes to the airport, which is west of London near Blenheim, and were delighted to see two more friends when we arrived.  There were four flights ahead of us, at 10-15 minutes per trip, and they had been delayed due to the clouds (flights were supposed to begin at 12:30pm and we arrived at 1:45pm).  About fifteen minutes after we arrived, the go-ahead was given and the first plane taxied down the runway and took off into the sunshine.  


The airport staff were friendly and welcoming - in a word - amazing. They had paper airplanes, stickers, markers, cookies and juiceboxes for the kids.  Thank you, Marion!  The lounge wasn't busy and we happily waited in the small and tidy room, chatting and laughing.  We heard lots of stories from an "old-timer" about the cool clients that had flown in to the airport in their private jets (Jack Nicklaus being one of them). We also heard about the amazing Classic Cars in Blenheim, whose owner is local and often flies into the airport.  From their website:

RM Auctions is the global leader in the collector car auction industry. Our specialized services include auctions, restoration, appraisals, collection advice, private treaties, and estate sales. We offer the world´s finest cars to the most discerning collectors from around the globe.
Our business has been fuelled by a love of cars and a passion for producing results since 1976. To date, hundreds of million-dollar-plus automobiles have been sold at our catalogue auctions, which average a 95% sell-through rate. 

Check out their website and the link below, if you like classic cars! The airport had a superthick, glossy catalogue of luxury automobiles and we were drooling.  Seriously.  Here is a link to an event that was held yesterday in Florida (March 9, 2013):  Amelia Island 2013 .  The cars are unbelievable.  (Read the rest of my blog entry first though!)

Soon enough, it was time for our flight.  Nathanimal (the hooligan) managed to go with Katherine and Emily as there was an empty seat on their plane.  Before he knew that he was going up, I told him that his name was "Nathaniella" and that he would have to dress up as a girl in a skirt and ballet shoes (it was Women of Aviation, after all!).  We laughed as we watched the look of horror on his face.  Here he is after he realized that I was kidding:

The Kinsmen-owned Cessna that we flew in:

Getting ready for take-off:

There he goes!

We went back into the lounge to lounge, and soon enough, Nathaniel was back:

Here he is posing with his flight certificate:

Next up, Gweenoo, who isn't excited at all.  If you click on the pic below, you can see a close-up of her face:

Here's a picture of the kids with our awesome pilot, Jeff.  That Jeff is a patient man goes without saying:

Unbeknownst to me, my sweet husband had arranged for an awesome surprise for me:

 I picked a good man!

The Thames, snaking through the countryside:

My sweet men:

Post-flight celebration:

Posing in front of a beautiful little plane that I coveted:

Excuse the puns but I am still "high" and "on cloud 9", from our flight.  What a truly fantastic experience - one that I will always remember.  

Links for your perusal:

RM Classic Car Auctions