I love helicopters. I’ve dreamed of flying a helicopter since I was a very young boy. I never was in a position to take lessons, but I’ve been fortunate enough to fly IN a helicopter several times.
I flew a couple times with the Sheriff and a couple times with the Water Management District, and once as part of a corporate team building program I was in, and once as part of a tour over the Grand Canyon.
There might have been a couple other times I’m forgetting, and the helicopters themselves have ranged from the Bell 47 (think MASH) to the Bell Jet Ranger to the EcoStar EC130.
The one consistent fact in all of these rides though, has been the absence of my wife Janet. No matter how hard I wheedled, begged and cajoled, she was adamantly opposed to flying in a helicopter.
Until the guy with the British accent showed up.
As part of her job at the city, she works with companies to either get them interested in coming here, or helping the ones already here to expand and improve. Recently she was involved in helping to set up a business expo event for the city, and one day at lunch she told me how a helicopter pilot training company from Orlando had contacted her asking if they could bring one of their helicopters to the event. They would give short helicopter rides and hopefully, drum up some business.
She made it a point to mention how the guy who came to discuss it with her was a cute-as-a-bug young man with sandy hair, ruddy cheeks and a smashing British accent.
OK, I thought, I’ve been known to visually appreciate and sometimes (very rarely…really) comment on some of the female persuasion, so I guess she’s entitled to enjoy a bit of eye candy too. Didn’t think much more about it.
Until Saturday morning.
That’s when the event was, and that’s when I got a voice mail from her, (while I was out in the back yard, raking dirt for her garden) telling me that she had just taken….wait for it……
a HELICOPTER RIDE!!!
Oh, and was one ride in Mr. Ruddy Cheeks’ helicopter enough? Oh no, she wanted me to come to the event, because after all, I really like helicopters, and then we could BOTH take a ride. Her SECOND helicopter ride in a single day, after my years of trying to get her to go ONCE!
Well, I went, and we both took a ride, and I must admit that Mr. Ruddy Cheeks seemed a nice enough chap, particularly when he agreed to take the door off for me so I could get better photos, and when he told the pilot that instead of the normal 5 minute flight, to take us “wherever they want to go.”
Now I did point out later to Janet that Ruddy Cheeks was young enough to be her son. She replied, using a variation of the words I’ve used so often when she’s pointed out that the lass I’m ogling could be my daughter… “Yeah…but he’s NOT!”
So, we climbed in the Robinson Raven 44
rose over the city’s Major Incident Response Vehicle that was waiting in case of airborne difficulties,
on our way to the Atlantic Ocean at New Smyrna Beach.
Janet said she saw a shark in the water, but I was busy scouting for bikinis. Naturally, that was the day I left my long lens at home. Duh.
From our vantage point, we could see the towering peaks of the Florida mountains.
We flew over some of our favorite kayaking areas,
The pilot came in slowly, hovered a couple feet off the ground, spun the helicopter in a tight 180 and set it down as gently as you please.
Ruddy Cheeks sauntered out to help janet out of the helicopter, and he was all, like “That was simply brilliant wasn’t it!” and “Jolly good, Janet!”.
Made me want to gag.
Actually, that’s not exactly true. Ruddy Cheeks seemed to be a pretty nice bloke. He offered to work with me if I decide to take lessons, and he does have a sort of Prince Harry look to him, so I guess I can understand Janet going a bit wobbly-kneed.
On the upside, Janet has suddenly decided it makes rather good sense for me to take helicopter piloting lessons. Says she’ll come with me, “just to watch.” Hmmm.