I have a confession. I have had an underlying motivation while building the Garaggio EZ. Something that kept me working hard and wanting to get my airplane through to first flight. I wanted to give my Grandpa a ride in Betty. Grandpa has flown with me before. I had given him a ride at my high school graduation party in a Cessna 150.
And I got the chance to fly him once while at work in an airliner.
But taking Grandpa for a ride in my EZ became my goal about four-ish years. My grandparents were in Minnesota for my cousin’s graduation party. They came over to my house, and I gave Grandpa the tour of the airplane project in the workshop. He looked over it keenly, with attention to detail, and asked some pretty specific questions. Ever since then, anytime we would talk on the phone, invariably he would ask about my airplane project.
My Grandpa is a very hard working man and has been very successful in the construction industry through tenacity and no more than an 8th grade education. His story is inspiring to me, and as such it made me feel good that he had such an interest in my project. The whole time I was building I didn’t know if he would want to (or be able to) go for a ride by the time I got it flying. But that was my goal and motivation.
The single biggest reason for bringing the airplane all the way out to Phoenix, Arizona was to give grandpa a ride. My victory tour actually spawned secondarily out of that goal. I feel fortunate to say that March 17, we accomplished our mission. Grandpa went for a ride in Betty. I don’t know of anyone else who can say they have had the privilege of being able to take their 89 year old grandpa for a ride in an airplane they themselves (with tons of helpers of course) built. I don’t mean that to sound narcissistic, I mean it to show the depth of my appreciation for this extremely rare gift to be able to share that experience with my grandpa. I should actually say share this gift with my grandparentS. Grammy was there too though she doesn’t like flying much. But that didn’t hamper her enthusiasm for our special day and airplane ride.
My Grandpa gets around well for an 89 year old, but I was concerned about his ability to get in and out of the airplane. So I made sure to have step stools and ladders at the hangar and even made some other arrangements for egress if getting out became a problem. The back seat is not the easiest to get into and out of for a limber, young, full-sized adult, much less an 89 year old grandpa with a replaced hip.
One of the things I will always remember about his ride is that he got into that airplane like a young man. It must have “smarted a bit” (to use his words), but he didn’t say or show it. Makes me believe he wanted to go for that airplane ride as much as I did.
Here is some GoPro footage from our flight.
After his flight, Grandpa became the first person to sign Betty’s new guest book.
About Betty’s Guest Book: I first saw this idea at the AirVenture Cup in Mt. Vernon Illinois, when Sam Hoskins was giving a ride to a friend. He has a guestbook that goes back probably 20 or 30 years. It is signed by all of the people that he has taken for a ride in his Quickie. I thought that was such a neat idea that I had to take a page out of his playbook. So I designed one to look like the Jeppesen Professional Pilot Log book and had it printed and bound. Grandpa may not have been Betty’s first passenger, but he was the first one to sign the guest book. I will have to go back and get the other folk’s signatures later. It will be a treasure to have something to remember these special rides by.