Jack's 2nd Big Air Day - 11 Oct 1999
Jack FitzGerald and Steve Ewing with Ewing's Quicksilver Trainer
Jack's Dad always liked to visit airports to look around. He would frequently take Jack and his sister Bevin along with him. Having a flair for the dramatic, their Dad would enjoy surprising them. On two different occasions he took them to the airport at Benton, Kansas without telling them it was "Benton Day". One of the highlights of Benton Day is $5 airplane rides so both kids were able to experience the sky in a Beech Bonanza and a Piper Twin Comanche. One day Father FitzGerald hatched a grand plan to exceed Jack's "Air Journey". Secretly putting his video camera in the trunk of the car he suggested to Jack that they go out to the Gliderport, a sport aircraft facility on the northeast edge of Wichita, and look around. They jumped in the car and were there in about 8 minutes as it is close to their house. Using some pretext Jack's Dad left him alone for a minute while he set up the surprise. He returned and started musing with Jack as to how the weather was very nice and "wouldn't it be nice to get up in the air to look around a little". When Jack agreed that was a pleasant sentiment his Dad added "probably the best visibility available on this field is that Quicksilver over there" (pointing to Steve Ewing's 2 seater). After a bit more set-up finally the elder FitzGerald said to Jack something along the line of "well are you ready?". Not quite sure what he was getting at Jack said "ready for what?" On that cue, good friend Steve Ewing came forth with his set of helmets and said to Jack "You wanna get some air, Jack?". Jack looked at his Dad with a "go to" guy for all things Ultralight in the Great Plains.
Now while Jack and Steve were traversing the sky above the Gliderport, Jack's Dad was busy setting up the next portion of the "2nd Big Air Day". Charles (Charley) Pate is a senior engineer at Cessna Aircraft and an avid Sailplaner and Sailplane Instructor. If the conditions are even remotely precipitous of unmotorized flight you will find Charley at the field ready to train or just take folks up for a fun ride. He is one of the men who makes Wichita "The Air Capitol of the World".
Jack shakes hands with Charlie Pate after their flight
After Jack and Steve Ewing landed the Quicksilver they went through a short de-briefing with Jack's Dad and then thanked Steve for the great opportunity. Jack was very impressed with the visibility and the different sensation of flying completely out in the air as opposed to inside a cockpit. It would have been an exceptional day for that flight alone. Little did he realize the Elder FitzGerald had further flight designs as he eased the two of them over to the Glider part of the field. This time, though, as his Father nudged the conversation over to the "jet fighter-like" cockpit of the Grob G-103 Jack suddenly asked "Am I going up in the glider?" to which Dad said "If you want to!". Right on cue Charlie walked up and said "Are you ready?". He was and they were off for flight two of the day.
©2017 Brian FitzGerald