Sunday, November 10, 2013

Footstep Following

Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total (hrs)
03 Nov 2013 N21481 SDC (Williamson, NY) - FZY (Fulton, NY) - SDC 1.3 1230.7

As the occasional flurry spiraled earthward beneath a leaden overcast, The Bear and I readied Warrior 481 for a Sunday morning breakfast flight. This was no ordinary breakfast run, however. The Bear had an objective.

"When can I use the camera?" she asked as I installed the winterization plate on the Warrior. It was her third time asking and bordered on nagging, but I understood that she was very excited. Before departing the house that morning, The Bear spied my old camera on my desk and asked if she could use it to take pictures from the airplane. I agreed, but still had the camera stored safely in my flight bag.

With the door closed and latched, The Bear snugly buckled into the front seat, and the engine idling smoothly, I handed her my trusty old Sony digital camera. She carefully plucked it out of my hand, exhibiting a curiously contradictory blend of reverence and giddy enthusiasm.

Photo by The Bear
I trained her on its use before we left the house. She immediately switched it on and took her first "selfie". I paused my flight preparations to define "selfie" for her.

Photo by The Bear

During the engine run-up, I heard a giggle followed by, "I took a surprise picture of you!" I was evidently concentrating on the run-up and did not notice.

Photo by The Bear

Aloft, The Bear began snapping photos, even asking for turns so that she could see different elements of the late autumn landscape.  "Ooo...I got a good one of our airport, Daddy!" And she did, too.

The overcast dissipated beyond Oswego as though produced directly from the atmospheric discharge of the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Plant.

En route to the Oswego County Airport, The Bear held her camera at the ready, looking for just the right shot.

I was reminded of my early days in aviation, snapping photos from the back seat of a Super Decathlon. It became clear that The Bear is just as fascinated by capturing images of flight as I am.

Photo by The Bear

When there was nothing particularly inspiring out the window, she created her own inspiration.

Photo by The Bear

We landed at Oswego County and sat down for breakfast at Puddle Jumpers. As we waited for our breakfast, The Bear jumped up and photographed the Warrior through the restaurant window.  "I loooove my airplane," she commented later when we reviewed the pictures.

Photo by The Bear

Much fun was had with the camera during breakfast.

Photo by The Bear

Apple cinnamon pancakes were The Bear's choice of the morning. Right after she ordered them, she noticed that the owner was carving up an apple. If that is not a mark of authenticity, I don't know what is. When the pancakes arrived, The Bear demonstrated that she was ready to join the Instagram crowd by photographing her meal.

Photo by The Bear

After breakfast, we climbed above the clouds for a brief look around before returning to the gray world underneath.

Near the Oswego River, sunbeams cast spotlights on the few residual pixels of autumnal color remaining below. Like clockwork, the cumulative somniferous effects of flying with a belly full of pancakes worked their inevitable magic. The Bear dozed off, still clutching the camera.

Approaching the Williamson-Sodus Airport, I was disappointed that we had largely missed seeing much fall color from the air.

I shut down outside the hangar and removed The Bear's headset. She did not stir until I undid her seatbelt, at which time she sat bolt upright and brightly exclaimed, "I JUST TOOK A LITTLE NAP!"

At home, we reviewed all 79 images captured by her digital eye. I had her choose which ones we would keep and which ones we would discard. Showing good judgement, she sentenced thirty blurry shots to the abyss. From the survivors, she chose several to post on her personal blog and, for the first time, she wrote (rather than me ghostwriting) the captions that would be shared with family.

The Bear had a blast during her first attempt at aerial photography. I hope she continues to have as much fun with it as I have over the years.


  1. I think the Bear is my new favorite person! She's going to do great things thanks to these awesome experiences!

    1. Aw, thanks! But I am not so sure that she can beat Turbo flying freestyle around the sky with his own...ahem...self-generated contrail. ;-)