I celebrated a milestone birthday two weeks ago.
My family headed from the valley to the coast to spend the day with my brothers and their families. We’d no sooner gotten there and unloaded the food we’d brought to contribute to the barbeque dinner when my brother David said, “Hey sis, come with me. I’ve got something for your birthday.”
My other brother Sean and I climbed into Dave’s pickup and he drove to the Toledo airstrip.
Dave has a single-seat gyrocopter and a friend of his, Brad, has a two-seater. Dave’s been trying to schedule me a ride with Brad in his gyrocopter for a while. I figured that was my birthday surprise.
Instead, Dave introduced me to a logger/plane builder/pilot/bee keeper named Toby Parker and asked if I’d like to go up in his plane with him.
“Sure,” I said, even though the guy was a total stranger to me.
What else could I say? Dave was practically wiggling with excitement over the surprise he’d arranged for me.
So up we went. Toby asked me what I wanted to see. I said, “Pretty things.”
After we flew over David and Tiffany’s house, he flew us towards Newport, over Yaquina Bay and along the coastline. We got out over the Pacific Ocean and Toby said, “I’m going to smoke a cigarette, so you fly ‘er.”
I turned the plane with my foot pedal and banked it with the lever between my legs. As we came back around the plane bumped. Toby gave me a big grin and a thumbs up. “When you bump like that it means you made a perfect turn – you came back and hit your own air. You’re a natural.”
He spent the rest of the 50-minute flight – a minute for each of my years on this earth – telling me why my husband and I should build our own plane. Then he proceeded to show off by stalling the engine and doing some nose dives and downward spirals – but that is fodder for another tale another day.
Let’s just say I had a great time, and I got some fantastic photographs, but I was glad to get my head out of the clouds and my feet back on the ground.
Thanks so much for such a memorable birthday, David and Toby! And thank you family for not giving me black balloons or a cake that said, “Over the hill.”
You didn’t need to. The US Postal Service took care of that part of my milestone birthday. When I got home, an invitation packet from AARP was waiting for me in the mail box.
You can fly away on your birthday, but you still can’t escape the number of candles on your cake when you come back down.
I'm not sure how I got here so quickly. But nifty 50, here I am!