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Night Flight Grins

Driving from the office to visit my parents one spring night shortly after graduating from college I came upon a Bell 47 helicopter parked beside the side of the road just west of downtown Fort Worth. An illuminated sign declared the pilot was selling flights over the city. No thought about it was necessary. I had never flown in a helicopter and a night flight over the well-lit city seemed as fine an opportunity as may ever come along. I pulled over, parked my truck and greeted the pilot who was happy to take me for a night flight over Fort Worth.

He helped me get strapped into the harness and then began revving up the engine of the little helicopter. I was excited and could tell the plexiglass shell of the cockpit was going to offer up an excellent view in all directions ahead, below and to each side.

The little helicopter began to rattle and rock in place before suddenly leaping skyward, taking my breath away as the ground dropped away. The aircraft had stopped rattling as the pilot banked to the east and made a smooth beeline for downtown. He circled the tall buildings from a distance providing excellent views. I was grinning the entire time we were in the air and was still grinning broadly when we landed about twenty minutes later.

The pilot looked at me after cutting the engine and said "You must have enjoyed that." I nodded and told him I had very much enjoyed it, thanked him and then tipped him generously, making his grin grow wide too. I could have waited for another time and place to take that first and only helicopter ride of my life but I doubt it would have been as much fun.

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