Kita's First Flight

I'm convinced that fall is the best time to fly, and I'm always looking for an excuse to fly during the time of year when the air is clean and cool, and the scenery is breathtaking. I'm also convinced that flying is best enjoyed with the ones you love, so last September, I decided that Kita was ready to log her first hour in the air, in C-182 N9011T. I told Dan straight up that this flight wasn't going to be any fun for any of us, naturally over-reacting to a situation where the dog picks up on the person's stress, and is no better off because of it. I made way too big of a deal about this, and in the end, I can see a lot of things I could have done differently...
Since I adopted Kita a couple years ago, I've been slowly introducing her to airplanes, and she's been inside them before. She's very calm in almost every situation and considers an airplane to be my pickup truck with wings, but I'd never fired up an engine with her inside, never taxied with her, and have never left the ground with her before, so obviously it was a little nerve-wracking.
Knowing that dogs will do anything for freeze dried liver, I loaded my pockets with a healthy supply and put Kita into the airplane. Getting her in was easy, getting her back out at the end of our flight, not so much. The day I chose to fly was so windy and warm that I almost grounded us before we got going, thinking that turbulence would stress her. But I figured as long as we'd come this far, we could go a little farther.
Taxi and run-up were only nominally stressful, I think because the sound and vibration of the engine was so unfamiliar to her. I don't remember much of the take off, having spent that part of the flight stuffing my girl with dried liver. I figured it was a good sign that she was eating; dogs that are stressed beyond measure generally don't eat at all. Once we were in the air, she relaxed a bit and at one point laid down on the seat and closed her eyes. She seemed confused by the fact that the ground was so far below us.
I was finally able t
o relax and enjoy some air time, and in between handing out liver and baby-talking to my dog, was able to get some pictures. By the time we landed, Kita was all mellowed out, and after we docked and got out, she wanted to get back in. She climbed up on the floats and tried to hop into the airplane, which I suppose is an encouraging sign that she might want to fly again someday. The most challenging part of the entire flight was getting all the dog hair out of Dan's airplane. German Shepherd's shed profusely under normal circumstances; under pressure, the shedding is way more intense. Now that she's got her first hour behind her and appears to like it, I will for sure take her up again. It just seems natural to me to have a dog along when I'm flying, combining two of the things I enjoy most.


Doug Robertson said...

Great story! Seems you did about everything right. May I suggest you get a pair of Mutt Muffs for Kita?-that will muffle the in-flight noise and help save the dog's hearing.

Paula said...

Good girl, Kita!

rusty wrycza said...

toasted it
A floatplane taking off from Devil Track Lake flipped over on the east end of the lake on Saturday, August 27, resulting in substantial damage to the plane,