Getting Started
Flying|December 2020
Do you remember that first day?
DICK KARL
The building was a hulking blue, metal-sided affair, pockmarked by a nondescript door and a window air conditioner—but no window. It might have been difficult to reconcile the uninspiring appearance with the promise held within if not for a sign that declared: “Airplane rides, you fly the plane. Air-conditioned lounge and gift shop.”

So I pulled up to Ocean Aviation in Ocean City, Maryland, with two grandsons in tow. We were there for introductory flights for Clemens, 15 years old, and Graham Robinson, 12, who live not far away in Delaware. Noelle at the front desk had been very helpful setting up the two flights, assigning us to CFI Justin Mallory. It was hot—91 degrees Fahrenheit.

We tumbled into the Part 141 flight school, appreciative of that air conditioning. Mike Freed, the boss, came out to say hello. Justin was still airborne but would be in shortly. Noelle examined the boys’ passports because they would be in the left seat; such scrutiny is a result of 9/11.

Justin arrived shortly thereafter, looking remarkably fresh given his previous hour in a hot, un-airconditioned small airplane.

Soon we were walking out to preflight the 1975 Cessna 172. Justin estimated the airplane had more than 4,000 hours under its belt. That looked about right. Justin led the boys through a preflight check, extremely patient, thorough and clear, and I clamored awkwardly into the back seat. It was hard to track how much of this the boys were taking in.

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