Sky High


Divide and conquer; That’s our strategy for surviving as parents of three kids.

But when I’m not just surviving, I’m reminded that nothing speaks love to my kids like spending time one-on-one with them. When it was three-year-old William’s turn for what he calls a “Daddy/William Date”, he opted for Mexican food and a trip to the Aerospace Museum of California. He’d been dreaming about this for some time.

William, full of horchata and quesadilla, and I of fish tacos, waddled our way through the entrance of the museum. No food coma would slow our journey through the history of man and flight. Not when there’s a hangar full of videos, scale models, flight simulators, and activities to explore.

My little guy darted from one spot to the next–eyes wide with excitement over the next helicopter or biplane in sight. I get the impression he expected to soar into the sky with each subsequent aircraft we found. Whatever disappointment he felt in not being able to fly faded whenever he could jump in a cockpit and take a stick or yoke in hand. Imagination and hardware was all he needed for a bit of flight.

Oh, and did I mention the decommissioned airplanes out back?

Our time together kicked into high gear when we stepped out on to a tarmac with a tremendous collection of gigantic aircraft: old fighter jets, paratrooper planes, helicopters, Coast Guard patrol planes, cargo carriers, and stunt flyers. The size and scale of each craft made me feel tiny, so I can only imagine how my boy took it in. He grabbed my hand and pulled me from plane to plane, sometimes rewarded with the discovery of an open bay door and a docent welcoming us to hop inside for a look around. The Mexican food was an appetizer, the exhibits indoors were a salad, and this was certainly the main course.

William would have been happy enough to just go grocery shopping alone with me. He craves alone time that tells him that he is not only my son, but that he is special to me. Alone time with jets? That just took things to new heights.

Shortly before the end of our visit, William asked, “Maybe Kali and Ashton can come next time?”

My jaw dropped. Though he relished his time alone with me, he was having such a good time that he wanted his big sister and little brother to get in on the fun. Ordinarily, he’d be trying to push through the rest of the pack to get a bit of attention. Admittedly, it can be hard to offer that to him in a house full of needy, fun-loving kiddos.

As I learned that day, strange things happen when a little boy’s love tank is filled to the top (along with an horchata additive).



A-10 Warthog plane
My personal favorite of the planes: the A-10 “Warthog”.


Young boy in a model jet
Earning his wings in the 1/10 scale model jet.


Photograph of a young boy in a plane cockpit, pretending to fly.
Going into a nose dive, whether he knew it or not.


A young boy gazes up into an airplane's landing gear compartment.
Figuring out what goes in the landing gear compartment.


Photograph of an ejection seat.
What little boy doesn’t dream of testing an ejection seat?


Photograph of the old comms system inside the coast guard plane.
From an age before cell phones.


A young boy steps off a helicopter on to solid ground.
Back on solid ground.


A photography of a young boy clutching his baseball cap as he looks out the only window in an empty cargo plan fuselage.
Looking lonely in an empty FedEx cargo jet.


A photograph of the inside of an old airplane fuselage
Inside the belly of a steel whale.


Photograph of a young boy standing by the landing gear of an airplane.
“You must be at least this tall to fly.”


Photograph of an airplane fuselage and tail.
Discovering what really happened to the tail end of Oceanic Flight 815

Hang this photo on your wall

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Planes make for some vivid memories, don’t they? What are some of yours? Tell us in the comments below.


  • Kat 03-23-2016

    This was my main dish ! Love the story and the pics of my sweet grandson!

    • P.J. Oswald 03-23-2016

      It is a good dish, isn’t it? This little guy loves his sweet grandma as well!

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