I Let My 3-Year-Old Fly With an Inexperienced Pilot for Fun

My son has been obsessed with fire trucks and rescue helicopters almost from the moment he was born. Like father, like son, we like to say, which is pretty fitting given that my husband's second helicopter lesson (his first flight) was today and my son and I decided to go up with him.

When we first asked his flight instructor if we could bring a 3-year-old along, I think he laughed a bit, but then he said he didn't see why not. After all, who else could possibly enjoy it more than a happy 3-year-old boy?

I'll admit, I was nervous. I had never been in a helicopter, so taking my son on something I had never been on seemed like a giant leap of faith.


Sure enough, when we got to the heliport, I was feeling ill and it wasn't just because the heat index was 111 degrees. Why the hell was I taking my BABY on my husband's first helicopter flight?

My son was perfectly calm.

"Are you scared?" I asked him. He wrinkled his brow.

"NO! Why would I be?" he asked. (Full disclosure: his nickname behind closed doors is the grumpy old man. I think you can see why.)

For my husband, this was a total boy thing. He grew up flying in his dad's plane (his dad was a pilot) and has been taking both fixed wing and helicopter lessons in order to repeat the experience. Taking his 3-year-old son on the flight was a total must in his book, a chance to relive his own memories.

We all climbed into the copter, which was NOT named Charlie Tango. Believe me. I asked. It was me, my husband, his flight instructor, and our 3-year-old. Totally normal, right?

"Do you mind if I hold your hand?" I asked once we were all buckled in safely in the back where there were NO DOORS (they fly without doors on hot days).

"Don't hold my hand, Mama!" he yelled into the microphone. Here he is looking all chill:

Meanwhile I was a nervous wreck. As we ascended, I realized not only was my 5-year-old daughter still on the ground (and if we died, we'd be leaving her alone), my son was totally confident because I endorsed this. What if I was wrong? What if we plummeted?

When my husband took the controls, I was even more nervous. He seemed nervous, especially with the open doors, and since he is usually super collected, I started to get a bit freaked. We swayed to the left, then the right, we took a sharp turn and lost some air. "The controls are really sensitive," my hubby said into the microphone. I couldn't reply as I was too busy gripping my child.

The flight instructor was laughing, though, so I knew my fears were probably unfounded. Still, I was glad it was a short ride, a half hour total. I'd be lying if I didn't say I was happy when we were back on the ground.

But one look at my son's face told me the (minimal) risk was worth taking. He was beaming. When I asked him later what he thought, he told me, "Since I already knew how to drive a car, it was cool to have my first flight lesson."

Right, bud. You "know" how to drive a car. Sure you do. As for me, I am happier on land, but I am also glad I gave him an adventure and proud of myself for not having a heart attack. I guess I am also proud of my husband for his quick reflexes and ability to not get us killed.

He has promised his next lesson to our daughter. I told him to get a stand-in co-pilot.


Would you do this with your kid?


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