Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wings part 2

Some years have gone by since I last wrote about flying with hubby and la cocotte. In the interim la cocotte has gone from infant to pre-schooler and another infant has arrived making flying en famille more challenging rewarding. Last week-end, we had a mission to not only take a flight as a family but more importantly to have la cocotte sit up front as co-pilot next to baba. Although somewhat nervous about the prospect of la cocotte near the controls of an airplane (for the uninitiated, there are a separate set of controls in front of both the pilot and "co-pilot" in a Cesna, heck perhaps in all airplanes, I really don't know... count me among the uninitiated), I had the mental image of her strapped tightly into her car seat and therefore unable to manipulate the environment around her. My image also included me, sitting directly behind her, at the ready to pin her down if necessary.

Fast forward to hubby taxiing to the runway for takeoff, la cocotte seated not entirely serenely beside him held in place only by a standard seatbelt, her car seat having proved too large for the cesna. Then there's me, sitting behind her not at the ready to pin her down should occasion arise but rather with two very occupied arms nursing an infant who rejected outright the confinement of her carseat. And as we taxied to the runway, I stopped chewing on the fact that la cocotte had not gone pee before boarding and moved on to far graver concerns. I was struck with a vision of a full-on, mid-flight temper tantrum by a largely unrestrained cocotte... door being flung open, controls being kicked, infant being tossed aside as I tackled la cocotte (as much as anyone can tackle anything inside a cesna). Please, I thought, oh please don't let this turn into one of those you-tube-esque what-the-fuck-were-they-thinking spectacular parenting fails.

A word about my hubby. There are certain, specific areas in which I truly question his judgement; appropriate officewear for women  ("honey, that's not a dress, it's a shirt"), the health of a given meal ("that was pretty healthy" he'll happily say after we've consumed a meal that included exactly none of the four food groups).  However there are other areas where I trust him absolutely and these include the safety of our children and all things pilot/flying-related. On these, I trust his judgement and his fairly conservative nature. So I reminded myself of this, took a deep breath and settled in for the ride.

Which was amazingly smooth thanks to our skilled pilot and the beautiful day. Once my lap-held infant fell asleep, I even managed to get a few shots off though the scenery around Montreal sadly pales in comparison to the scenery that some of you may have seen on another blog. I also got to take in some ATC chatter which I always enjoy. La cocotte held her own very nicely and other than peppering the pilot with a thousand "pourquois" (usually right as he was queuing the mic to speak with ATC or another pilot) and occasionally tugging on his arm, she was an incredibly well behaved passenger.

It was right around the time that we turned to head back west that things on board started to go south. It began with an innocuous request for an on-board snack of peanuts. Obviously, I should have brought peanuts as they are, after all, the classic in-flight snack. Very unfortunately I had only brought cheese which was roundly rejected. Then la cocotte decided she wanted to use the controls and was denied by the pilot. Things escalated as they will with threenagers and before we knew it, flailing, screaming temper tantrum complete with kicking the yoke. Yup. Kicking the yoke... the doohickey thingy that the pilot pulls on to climb and pushes to descend. As it turns out, kicking the yoke with a winter boot clad foot will also cause the plane to descend. Our excellent pilot-in-command immediately took us out of the resulting dive and the mother in command quickly re-wrote and implemented a new rule regarding pacifier use. Pacifier may only be used when toddler is in bed at a time of day when sleep is imminent (previous) OR when toddler is putting all of our lives at risk (addendum).  Popped the pacifier into the toddler and, well, the pacifier lived up to its name exceptionally well.

Anyway, no regrets. It was a memorable family day and a great treat to see hubby doing something he loves.

back to front: Mont Royal, Montreal skyline, St Lawrence River, south shore
Mont St. Gregoire (a "mountain" formed by an igneous intrusion into the surrounding sedimentary rock 125 million years ago, since that time the surrounding sedimentary rock has eroded leaving behind the igneous formation - Mount Royal above has the same origin... hubby's day job is in geology)
Eastern Townships
Birds on Chambly Basin
Pilot and co-pilot
Sleeping lap-held infant

 Sleeping after the yoke incident, those pacifiers are genius!
Ear protectors must match one's shirt, always.


  1. Oh, I laughed so hard reading the last paragraphs. You write so well. Such a fun thing to do. ANd yes, thankful for pacifiers! I remember the times...

  2. Sounds like a fun trip with a little bit of extra excitement.

    Is your hubby able to use the pilot license he got in Italy to fly in Canada or did he have to take some tests in Canada as well? Or he got his license in Canada at the end?