When we began the trip, Connor was 90
percent passenger, 10 percent copilot. But
as we made our way through the Sierra
and Rocky Mountains, he slowly proved
himself a more and more valuable member
of the team.
In truth, it had been so long since I’d
done a flying adventure with anyone that I’d
forgotten how much more fun it could be
with a good traveling companion along. For
all kinds of reasons.
After leaving Billings, Montana (where
we’d spent three fun-filled days due to
weather), Connor and I headed southeast
to Rapid City, South Dakota. With the
tall mountains behind us, I figured the
flying would get easier. But coming into
Rapid City, we ran into some really strong
thermals. As we bounced along, I set up for
landing, turned a long final, reduced power,
and put out some flaps. We continued to
bounce along, not losing a single foot of
altitude. I reduced power some more and
put out more flaps. No change. I chopped
the power completely, put out full flaps, and
pointed the nose steeply down to keep 63
knots. The altimeter didn’t budge.
“Wow,” I said to Connor. “This thing just
doesn’t want to descend!”
The runway was quickly approaching
beneath us. Way beneath us.
“So what do we do now?” Connor asked.
“We make it go down,” I said. I gave him
a quick explanation of a slip as I threw the
plane sideways, holding the controls at the
stops as we finally began sinking toward the
“Whoa!” Connor exclaimed. “This is
“Yeah, I know. But it works.”
I held the slip until a dozen feet off the
ground, then straightened out…only to have
the Cheetah rise right back up again. Ah,
the joys of a light airplane. Fortunately, the
runway at Rapid City is almost 9,000 feet
long. I added power and tried again—this
time wrestling the plane all the way down
to the runway. As we touched down with a
firm “clu-clunk!” of the main tires, I added,
“I hope you’re impressed with your pilot.”
“I am,” he said, completely serious.
Without Connor, it would have been
only a tiring landing. With him, it was
transformed into all kinds of better things.
A teachable moment, for one—Connor’s
flight instructor informed me this spring,
as Connor got ready to solo, that unlike
most student pilots, Connor both liked and
was really good at slips. I like to think it’s
because he got to see just how magical and
useful the technique could be in a real-life
Aviation Spark Plug Resistance
;;500 - 3000 Ω = New - Good
;;500 - 5000 Ω = Used - Good
;;5000 Ω & Up = No Good - Hard Starting
- Misfire - Poor Combustion - Pollution
of spark plug.