As part of the honors program at Ben's school, they get to participate in the Wright Flight program in fifth grade. It's an intensive study in navigation and coordinates that the kids work on for 2 months. They have to pass a test before they can participate. Emily didn't take the test and get in honors until sixth grade, so she didn't get to participate, which is too bad as it was such a neat experience.
It takes place in Tucson, which is a little over 3 hours south of us. They have to be to the airport by 7 AM, so we decided to drive down Friday night. We stopped at Sweet Tomatoes in Phoenix since it's semi healthy with a salad bar and stuff. But, it also has an ice cream bar, which the kids loved.
We got a hotel right next to the airport. The kids love staying in hotels.
Ben cracks me up. Last night, he's laying like this on the sofa and he says to me, "paint me Jack". He's quoting Titanic. He's silly.
We had to wake the kids up at 6 AM and they were so tired. We all were. Luckily, the Tucson airport was a whole.2 miles away from our hotel. It was nice it was so close.
There were 15 kids. They got checked in and had to go to a safety briefing for a bit.
David went in and listened. I stayed in the other room with the Emily and Noah.
Here's the big group of Wright Flight kids.
There were 8 planes. Ben's was the second one in. The red one.
Ben went up with another classmate and Steve was their pilot.
Here's Steve. I felt pretty safe with trusting Ben with him. He's been in the Air Force.
Steve took everything very seriously and went over everything with the boys. Ben seemed a little out of it at first. I think he was tired and a little scared.
I sent Ben up with a camera. He was trying it out.
Ben's in the backseat for now. They flew to Nogales, which is on the border to Mexico and about 60 miles from Tucson. Ben was in the back for the first half. Then, they land in Nogales and switch places and then Ben got in the front.
The propeller started and there was no turning back!
Eeek! We were all a little freaked out. We knew he'd be fine. But... You just never know. I mean if JFK junior can crash a plane and he had the best training and plane money could buy... This is the stuff you think about when you send your kid up in a tiny plane with a man you've never meant.
Here he goes...on the runway.
There he is...that little dot in the middle of the red circle.
Then, we got back to the airport and some of the kids were already back. Ben was about the 6th of 8 to take off, so I was hoping he wasn't back already. We went in and there 4 planes back.
So we waited...here's a plane....no him.
Here's another one....nope not him....
Definitely, not him! We didn't realized that so many major airlines flew out of Tucson.
Is this him??? YES! Yippee!
And here they are after a perfect landing with Ben as copilot!
He had a great time! His favorite part was taking control of the plane. I thought they'd get like 20 seconds of holding the controls, but it was more like 20 minutes. He loved it!
Pilot Steve was super impressed with Ben and kept saying that Ben was a great navigator and knew so much of the lingo.
Ben was thrilled with the experience and I think he was thrilled to be back on the ground again.
Here were the pics Ben took with the camera he took up:
This was the oldest plane there. David said when he looked in, the armrest still had an ashtray in it! Ok, that made us a little nervous.
Here's a pic of Ben in the plane.
Ben took this last picture of his family before he went up. I looked at him in the window and gave him a thumbs up and I could tell he was nervous.
Here's his view....
And the landing....
We were going to do something in Tucson, but we just decided to head home. We were all beat. We've had so much rain lately, the desert is so pretty with tons of wildflowers.
This little guy was wiped out!
We are happy to be home. This was the third weekend in a row that we drove 400 miles. Two weekends ago, was 400 miles to Long Beach. Last weekend was 400 miles home. This weekend was 200 miles to Tucson and 200 miles home. We aren't going anywhere for awhile!
But, we are so grateful Ben got to have this experience. Ben can say in 10 days, he went zipling through the jungle in Mexico and flew a plane! How many 11 year olds can say that?