Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's All in the Genes

When Abigail and I stepped into this simulator at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, we were hardly novices. True, we've never had a single minute of flight instruction, but what we had was more important. You see, flying is in our blood, passed down through the generations.

There's my grandfather, Glenn Kelley, the Pan Am pilot who made an emergency landing in his Boeing 377 Stratocruiser on a tiny island in the Pacific, without a single injury to passengers or crew. The co-pilot on the flight was his brother,

my Great Uncle Frank who during World War II flew night missions in a PB4Y-1 Liberator. And there was their younger brother,

my Uncle Grant, the highly decorated Hellcat pilot who earned numerous World War II air medals and citations, one presented personally from Admiral Nimitz.

And there's my Dad, also a former Pan Am pilot, who soloed in his family's plane on his 16th birthday (and I'm nervous about Driver's Ed!). His four siblings (three sisters and a brother) also all soloed in their teens. And then there's my Dad's brother, my Uncle Earl, also a former commercial airline pilot, and my brother, who served as a helicopter pilot in Iraq.

So, as you can see, Abby and I weren't just your average Joe Blow museum attendees. In this photo I'm telling Abby that I'll do the flying, and that she (with the somewhat diluted gene pool) will be my gunner. She's telling me that she doesn't want to do anything crazy.

The door was closed and soon we were in the air, scouting for the enemy.
There he is, Abby! Enemy at 10 o'clock!!
He's a slippery one, Ab! Hold on!

I've got him my sights, Abby! FIRE! Stop screaming and FIRE!
We missed him! Oh, there he is! He's diving!
We'll chase him through the trees Abby! FIRE! FIRE!

You GOT him!! YOU GOT HIM! AHHHH!! Pull up! Pull up!

Our ride ended, with one less enemy plane trolling the skies. Abby and I stepped gratefully back onto stable ground, puffed up our chests, and walked a little prouder the rest of the day.

No, you can't teach this stuff. It's all in the genes.


Jess to the Lo said...

GREAT Genes! Thank goodness your family is around to fly us all around commercially and to freedom! The Lord knows that my family does not have these kind of genes...goodness no!

Anonymous said...

Hi from BSU! What a great family line! Good job getting that enemy plane! ;)

Brooke said...

I'm just impressed that nobody PUKED! I don't think I could even watch that thing from the outside; it would make me so sick.

Amy said...

Eileen, what a cool family history! You could do a commercial for anc*, just like the Flying Rinaldo's lady. I love all the family photos...who knows, Abby may have flying in her future!

Diane said...

What fun! I'm married to a pilot, and I sometimes wonder if any of my boys will follow in his footsteps. I sort of hope not, I would like to keep them all on the ground.

Lisa Cairney said...

LOVED the pilot pics!!! LOVED them!! Girl, you got it goin' on in that family with the gene so glad the adventure at the museum didn't end with a filled airsick bag...which is where it probably would have if we were talking about me. :) So glad you and Abigail had a good flight. :)