A Son's Story
Excitement at Altitude 51,000 Feet
The author of this story, Kipp Myers, is the youngest son of Earl E. Myers, who has authored and inspired many stories posted on this web site and whose biography is reported in the Biographical Notes section. Earl retired from the USAF with around 10,000 flying hours and then went on to accumulate more than 30,000 additional flying hours in the years that followed, until his retirement. During his years as a contract jet pilot, Earl worked out of Mexico for a period of time. This chapter of his life, in the company of his son, Kipp, is described in Chapter 30 “Mexican Jumping Beans,” of his autobiographical notes. In 1987, after they had returned to their Deland, Florida home, Kipp wrote a story describing this in-flight experience as part of a school writing assignment. He was 12 years old at the time. His story follows:
Excitement at 51,000 Feet
This day was destined to be the most memorable of my life. It was a hot, humid day, typical of central Mexico, which was our departure point. Actually, it was a small town named Culican. I woke up to my wrinkled pajamas, too excited to go back to sleep. I hopped out of my soft warm bed and ran to the window ripped open the thin blinds that kept the soft, gentle moonlight from entering my room and the powerful, radiant rays of the golden, brown sun from entering today. This was a day that the sky was clear blue.
I was so excited because my father was flying a Learjet to Wichita, Kansas, for a routine inspection. I have flown in many Learjets before, but they were smaller and older models. This one, however, was larger and more modern equipped with the most sophisticated instruments, not to mention it was faster. I got dressed for our long journey it would be at least three hours flying time. Suddenly, we heard the tinny sound of the copilot's car horn. We walked down the steps, all but me of course; I ran down thinking that I could get there faster. We drove off to the airport in a beat up Toyota, but that was simply just high class for Mexico. We soon arrived at the local airport, which in my opinion was not high quality either.
We drove closer to a larger hangar where they kept this powerful monster from unleashing its force. It took my Dad and the coo-pilot about forty-five minutes to check over the plane for safety reasons. Finally, we were able to board this piece of technology. As I entered the plane it was entirely different than any other plane I had been in before. It had a stereo, VCR, and television. It even contained a telephone from which you can call anywhere in the world.
When everyone was on board and buckled into their seats, we taxied away from the hangar and on to the edge of the runway. We paused for a few minutes while the air traffic controller gave the takeoff clearance. I can remember those words “You are Cleared for Takeoff, Maintain Runway Heading Zero Nine Zero, Contact Mexico Center On One Two Niner Point Five.” Although this was spoken first in Spanish, I had been living in Mexico long enough to translate to English. We taxied into position and I saw my Dad push the throttle handles forward slowly and we began to roll gently, then building speed to the point where I felt the force of gravity was pulling at us and finally in just a few minutes we reached our cruising altitude of 51,000 feet.
I looked out the window and back to the front, watching my Dad very carefully. I was very proud of him such a complicated group of instruments and we were going so fast How did he do that? Just then I heard my Dad's friendly voice asking if I would like to come up to the cockpit. Without him having to ask again, I popped my seatbelt which was my only obstical to getting there in a split second.
He asked me to grasp the control wheel and instructed me to make very gentle, not quick movements. Wow! I was flying this massive piece of machinery. The wispy white clouds seemed to float right past me. We were going just under mach one over 600 hundred miles per hour! I looked out of the window for just a second and spotted what seemed to be a toy village with mountains surrounding it That was Tucson, Arizona.
After another two hours we landed in Wichita. We waited for a short time as there were only a few minor problems to solve and soon we were on our way home to Culican. As I looked down at the darkness on the ground, I noticed the lights of the cities, yet it was still light at the altitude where we were. I finally came to the conslusion that the sun's rays were not reaching the ground because the earth is round. But since we were above the earth the light was still shining. Soon I felt very tired and slipped into a deep sleep. I slept the entire return flight home and they had to carry me over to the car after we had landed. The next thing I remember was I awoke in my bed and I thought it was all a dream. But furtunately, my Dad had videotaped part of the flight and we watched the rerun for proof that I had definitely earned my wings that day..........
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