Sunday, June 26, 2016

Dad's Retirement Surprise: Fini-flight

I had never heard of a "fini-flight," but my brother was all about getting my dad one. It's an aviator tradition of flying an aircraft one more time before retiring. Apparently they aren't as common or easy to come by as they once were. Somehow my brother was able to secure it. In his own words, "It goes to show you that when God wants to honor someone, nothing will stop it." He hit so many road blocks that were overcome along the way. A fini-flight is a big deal and my dad was shocked that he was able to pull it off.

We got my dad to a base that he's never had anything to do with, several hours from home under the ruse that he was going to be presenting a JROTC award to my nephew. The kid is always getting awards, always attending ceremonies, so it was somewhat believable.

Because said base was three hours from home, most of us went up the night before. We saw a tanker(the plane he was to fly the next day, unbeknownst to him) approaching as we pulled into town. He was hanging out the window with a smirk on his face that can only be described as "child like."

The Tanker continued to circle overhead as we ate dinner. I suggested we hop over to the base and see if we could watch it take off and land with the beautiful sunset as the backdrop. We made it to the flight line just in time for it to be put away for the night.

"Man," my dad said, "it's been 30 years since I've flown one of those."

"But it's like riding a bike, right?" asked my mom. "You could fly one again?"

"I could fly one tomorrow if I had to," he said. Father, consider the 1/2 second coverage of you in your drawers revenge for the time you walked out in nothing but your tighty whities on Sean's second visit to the house. Ha!

 It was so dark(&HOT) in the cargo hold(is that what it's called??). This might be my new favorite picture of Felix. 

 This is DEFINITELY my new favorite of my dad. 

 And, hello, it's like aviator sunglasses were made for her face. I look like a grasshopper when I wear aviators. Not fair. Nik, make this your profile picture! Best picture ever, beautiful sister of mine!
 My mom got this picture on her phone, too. She also got the picture of us running away as we thought the engines were starting. Hilarious! It was actually something hydraulic on another part of the plane, but it freaked us out. 

 My people. 

 We had to walk across this field no less than fifteen times that day. It was so stinking hot and boys smell so stinking bad without sweating. My car smelled like overripe cantaloupe and soggy cardboard by days end. 
 We made it to the end of the flight line in time to see them fly off into the wild blue yonder. 

When he landed, the grandsons doused him with water and champagne. 
 I've never seen my dad drink. Ever. I told him this one was going on his Sunday School Facebook page. :D My mom is such a Baptist she couldn't figure out how to pop the cork on the champagne. :)  I kid, I kid. Apparently, I'm the lush of the family. 

 I don't think you coulda punched the smile off his face. 

Adding to the specialness of the day, every single one of my dad's children and grandsons were there to see it and participate. What a legacy he's living!!

My dad is the biggest unsung hero. He doesn't think he's anything special. I certainly hope the last few weeks have shown him that he is special and worthy of the honor of more than just his family. He has served his Savior, this country, and his family well. Here's to retirement and the new adventures that come with it!

1 comment:

Tracy Stanton said...

Love love love this blog post!! So proud of your Dad for this honor and Jimmy for making it all possible.