The year was 2007 and many thoughts were burning my brain. For one thing I had just signed up for Social Security. Good golly Miss Molly that meant I was truly getting old. My dad had passed away at age 71 a mere nine years down the road and his dad, my paternal grand father had passed in his sixties. So the future was looking rather grim. But there was also plenty of good news. I had recently passed a flight physical and was able to safely and legally maintain my status as an aircraft pilot and I felt good despite the ever encroaching age. But this was a pivotal moment in my life and I very much wanted to do something that would leave lasting memories. That “something” it turned would be a ten day action packed fun filled trip across America’s great Southwest in my Cessna Cardinal aircraft. Joining me on this adventure would be my youngest daughter Kari who was but 11 years old at the time. I very much wanted mom a/k/a my bride Nenita to come with us but she used her job as an excuse when the truth of the matter was she was scared silly to fly in anything smaller than a Boeing 747.
So early one morning in June of 2007 Nenita, my bride, dropped Kari and me off at the Whiteman Airport in Los Angeles where we began our adventure. After the pre-flight inspection and run-up, the tower cleared us for take and off we went for Barstow, California a mere hundred miles away and just under one hour of flight time. Despite weather cautions our flight was gentle as a feather. Upon landing at the Barstow Daggett Airport I qucikly recognized a twin engine airplane I had seen many times before. It belonged to the then very much alive Patrick Swasyse, true movie star and very nice man. And so the adventure began with a little Dirty Dancing.
Over the next nine days we would visit not only Barstow but also Kingman, Arizona, Grand Canyon, Arizona, Kayenta, Arizona in the heart of the Navajo nation where we were met at the airport by a genuine Navajo Indian Princess. Then it was on to Day five five which took us to Durango, Colorado where we also explored Silverton. On day six we flew on to Gallup, New Mexico as the adventure grew ever more exciting with each passing day and each new captivating location. On day seven we landed in Sedona, Arizona, one of the most beautiful places on planet earth. Sedona was so magnificent we stayed there a second day before flying on to Bullhead City, Arizona directly acros from Laughlin, Nevada and its many Las Vegas style casinos. Finally it was day ten and we flew back home and were greeted by my beautiful wife and Kari’s beloved mother.
The trip turned out to be an adventure that was far more than I had ever dreamed of, and so I was motivated to and did indeed, write a book detailing this magnificent adventure. It is entitles “Geezer and the Kid” and subtitled “adventures in flight”. All who have read it tell me it is a great read on several levels. On one level it presents some of the most beautiful and fascinating places in America’s Southwest and, most likely, in this world. It also shows a strong loving relationship between father and daughter. And it does provide some detail into the magic of flight and not in the back of a commercial jet – but at the controls of small but highly efficient airplane.
You can get your copy of Geezer and the Kid – Adventures in Flight at Amazon.com. Just click on this link
Interestingly, “the kid” went on to The University of Southern California and is now pursuing her own travel adventures. The geezer, well he is ever more a true geezer but always very happy to have been able to enjoy those ten wonderful days with his beloved daughter. Sadly, his current flying days are as a passenger only, but the great memories live on.
All Photos by Ron Irwin EXCEPT Sketch of Kari