Pilot Let's Kid Start Airplane:
Sometimes the most important gifts are given unwittingly. I set about checking the instruments in preparation of my last flight of the day, a short hop from Atlanta to Macon Ga. It was 7:30 P.M. Christmas Eve.
I glanced at the luggage carts being wheeled towards the plane, thinking of the gifts I wouldn't be able to my parents and friends the next day. Sam told me he and his family had flown in from Memphis. I checked my watch. The captain would be in any minute, but Sam looked so thrilled, I didn't want to cut short his fun. I gave the instrument panel another once-over, telling Sam what each instrument and lever did.
Finally captain Jim clambered aboard. Howdy partner. He gave Sam a broad grin. You know son, he drawled, I don't mind you staying with us for a while if you'll switch with me. Sam let the captain take his place and I made the introductions.
We began previewing the start up check list. I keep thinking the captain would send Sam away, but the boy was still peering over my shoulder when the ramp agent radioed to ask if we were ready to turn on the first engine in start sequence, number four.
I relayed the message to the captain, who was studying the weather reports. I'm still studying these, you guys go ahead and start it.
Okay starting.......I said, positioning the switches. Then I did a double take.....did you say you guys.
I looked over at the captain and then back to the flight panel. Right. I flicked on the planes flashing red beacon to signal the start.
Then I turned to my assistant.
You ever start a airplane before Sam?
Eyes wide, he shook his head. Following my instructions, Sam carefully turned the knob on the overhead console that switched on the igniters. Then he pressed a button as big as his hand to start the engine. Finally with both hands he slid forward a lever to introduce the fuel. The engine hummed to life.
Sam, slowly let go of the lever and stepped back, awestruck. He had gotten to start a airplane, a honest to goodness airliner. I'm not sure I'd believed at his age. I thanked Sam for helping us out.
No, thank you sir, Sam said this was really great.
As he backed out of the doorway back to the cabin, the plane resonated with the sound of the engine he'd started. You have a Merry Christmas, son, you hear the captain said.
Sam looked like he was about to cry with happiness.
I will sir, I will. Thank you. With one last look at the flight deck he turned and walked down the aisle. We started up the other engines, took of, and arrived in Macon about 40 minutes later.
Early Christmas morning we settled into the cockpit for the return trip back to Atlanta, one of the gate agents ducked in. Hey guys, some kids mother came by this morning. She wanted to make sure I thanked you for showing her kid around last night. Said he couldn't stop talking about the cockpit, she left this for you.
The gate agent set a red tin on the center console.
Well, I'll be, the captain said. He bit into one of the chocolate chip cookies from the tin. Then he unfolded the note taped to it's cover and silently read it.
He sighed deeply and turned to me, the boy's got cancer, and read the note aloud.
Thank you for allowing Sam to watch you work on Christmas Eve night. Sam has cancer and has been undergoing chemotherapy in Memphis. This is the first time he has been home since the treatment began. We drove Sam up to Memphis, but since he loves airplanes, we decided to fly him home. I am not sure if he will ever get to fly again. His doctor said Sam only had a few months left. Sam has always dreamed of becoming a airline pilot. The flight we took from Memphis to Atlanta was exhilarating for him. He wasn't sure flying on one of your little airplanes would be as much fun, but you two gentlemen gave him the greatest Christmas gift imaginable. For a few brief minutes his dream came true, thanks to you.
I looked out at the runway gleaming before us in the sun. When I turned to Jim he was still glaring at the note. A flight attendant came in and said the passengers were ready for departure. She stowed the cookies away and we went through the checklist. Then captain cleared his throat and called out, starting number four.
I'd wanted to be home withmy loved ones, exchanging gifts for the holidays. But that little boy showed me sometimes the most important gifts we give or given unwittingly and the most precious ones we get from strangers. I can serve God's purpose no matter where I am, as long as I let the spirit that moved me that night guide me always.
Sent from my iPad using iRV2 - RV Forum. 2014 Entegra DLQ
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