I would argue that the greatest gift you can give a child (or anyone else) is a vision for something that will change his life for the better. For me, flying has always been one of those things.
My father was a pilot in the Navy starting in 1946, right after WWII. He got all the experiences of flying off carriers without the battles. Although he never owned a plane when I was a child, I certainly was filled with the lore of flying and an undying passion for it. In fact, my mother swears to this day that my first spoken word was “airplane.” (I tend to believe my first word had something to do with food, but who am I to argue with her?)
Only one time in my childhood did I trade a chance to be around airplanes for something else, and I rue that decision to this day. I was only about 10 years old and had never been to an amusement park, so I chose to go with a church group to a local amusement park rather than go to see an air show at an Air Force base. That was one of the worst decisions of my childhood. I still hear about how fantastic that air show was, and I know how disappointing the amusement park was.
One of the most momentous days of my life was the day I got my “ticket.” I was a real pilot and could take family and friends up to experience what I had always longed to experience first-hand. I even thought one of my daughters would become a professional pilot, because she was inspired to learn, as well.
I also recall the first young boy I took up to fly. He was a troubled boy, who had no vision for life or any kind of productive future. I don’t know if he finally finished his pursuit of a pilot’s license (it’s been many years since then), but he certainly had a vision for getting one when we landed that first time.
Want to give a vision that will inspire? Share your flying with someone, but especially do it with your children. It will be one of the most cherished gifts you ever offer.
Wes Ball, passionate private pilot who learned at Aero-Tech Services, Inc. Lancaster, PA