Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cloud 9

You might have noticed the pictures of Pilot Barron visiting the cockpit on our recent trip to Oklahoma.  This was perhaps the highlight of William's summer.  I had a hunch William would ask to wear his pilot uniform once we got to the airport, so I packed it in my carry-on bag for "safe keeping."  Little did I know the pay off would be huge.

It begins with the outbound non-stop flight from BWI airport to OKC aboard Southwest Airlines.  As predicted, William wanted to suit up in his uniform after we made it thought security and got to our gate.  He was delighted to see our plane was already at the gate and gave a play by play to those around us regarding what was happening on the ground.  Several passengers admired Pilot Barron's uniform and asked him questions about his upcoming flight.  William never hesitated and spoke up with "I am going to fly for American Airlines and Delta" and then he'd give a salute.  I am sure the Southwest airlines employees got a chuckled when they heard that!

After awhile we boarded the plane and the flight crew LOVED his uniform.  William just marched onto the plane with his head held high and gave them a very happy "thank you!"  One flight attendant asked if he could take William's picture because "he was so cute" and I happily agreed with the condition that William could meet the pilots when we landed in OKC. 

Well, we landed around 10:30 at night.  William slept the entire flight so when he woke up to get off the plane, I told him the exciting news!  He was going to meet the pilots of our Southwest flight.  William grinned ear to ear and although he was thrilled, I could tell he was kinda nervous with anticipation.  We marched up to the cockpit and the flight crew was SO incredibly nice.  They asked William if he wanted to sit in the pilot's seat.  William was either overwhelmed or nervous, I couldn't decide.  Then I realized he was just taken back how small and tight the cockpit was and so I kept encouraging him to go inside by telling him how special this was and how long we've waited for the chance to see real dials and switches!  He took the bait and quietly asked me if I would take his picture when he got in the pilot seat.  OF COURSE! 

Our next "cloud 9" moment took place in the DFW airport on our return flight from Colorado.  Dan, William and I decided to hit the food court before boarding our flight from DFW to DCA (Washington National).  William was of course in full uniform from head to toe.  So we started eating and William glanced over to find an American Airlines pilot eating dinner several tables away.  "Mom Mom, where is that pilot's hat?"  I assured him that the pilot did indeed have a hat, but he was using good manners and took it off at the dinner table.  William just stared at him in wonder......"Mom Mom, do you think he'll put his hat back on after he is all finished?"  "Hey, Mom  who is that pilot eating with at that table?"  I told him those people were probably good friends of the pilot and that yes, he'd put his hat back on later.  

Well, next thing we know the Pilot gets up and comes straight over to William.  "Well, I just needed to come say hello to my fellow pilot before I head out on my next flight.  How are you doing sir?"  William about died.  He was SO EXCITED and spoke right up, "I am William.  Where are you flying today?"  The pilot told us he was going to fly to Albuquerque and that he was an American Airlines pilot.  "Oh, that is my favorite airplane too! I am going to fly for American Airlines and Delta.  Does your airplane have winglets?"  I think our new pilot friend was stunned that William knows so much about airplanes!  This moment was a HUGE highlight for William.  Have you ever seen a smile like that?
And finally, it was time to board our flight from DFW to DCA.  We were in boarding group 2, so we all got on the plane at the beginning of the boarding process.  We didn't even make it past the front door when the two pilots of our flight greeted William (still in full uniform) and invited him into the cockpit.  Having one cockpit visit under his belt, William immediately said "YES!" and jumped at the chance.   I fired up the camera and went to work documenting William's thrills. 

Pilots Rick and John showed William all the switches and dials and William asked millions of questions about which dial did what and where was the switch for the brakes, for the flight attendants, for the throttle, for the rudder, etc.  

Rick and John kept telling him how impressed they were that William knew all the flight terminology (if only they could live my life on the day to day) and William was delighted to finally know EXACTLY what switch did what.  William asked if he could sit on their laps.  From the front windows of the plane, William showed Rick and John what was happening on the ground.  He also noticed that Rick and John were not wearing their hats or sunglasses.  "Guys, are you going to wear your hats and your sunglasses when we take off because the sun is bright."  They laughed and told him that yes, they sometimes do wear their hats and sunglasses while flying.  William also noticed their uniform jackets and commented "your jackets are similar to mine because we both have gold stripes on the arms.  See?"  And then William let them know "I am going to get pilot shoes like yours because my dada has office shoes like pilot shoes that lace up."  William got a full 10 minutes in the cockpit while all the passengers boarded the plane.  

When we were getting ready to land, Rick and John came over the intercom and said, "we'd like to thank Pilot William for flying with us.  He's had 3 years of experience and looks forward to 20 more!"  

Now that is what you call being on Cloud 9.


Rachel said...

Oh Megs, John Trey and I are laughing so hard! How wonderful of those pilots to take the time to hang out with our favorite little guy. Wish I could have heard him ask all of those questions. He's the best...I would have loved to see their reactions to how much he knows about flying and airplanes. We love William! Xoxo

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