Search for the Best This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Many children buy ties, socks or golf balls for Father’s Day, but my present had to be the best. After spending several days shopping and asking friends what they were getting, I was more confused than ever. My search for the best gift landed me in a rickety old plane, but it was one Father’s Day that my dad and I will never forget.

“Is this your first time flying?” our instructor asked my dad as he untied the ropes holding the plane down. My stomach churned, knowing that in a few minutes I would be in the sky trusting my life to a young man who had just become a pilot. He walked us around the plane, showing us the propeller and other technical points, but I couldn’t help but think this would be my last time on the ground.

My nerves were making me want to back out and I was looking for any reason to get away, but I knew it would be a good father-daughter experience. The plane was very small, with only four seats, a door that creaked when opening, and an old smell that reminded me of my grandparents’ house. I quickly discovered the plane had no air conditioning and no radio to talk to each other. We had to yell. Our instructor started the plane and, like many old machines, it had to warm up. After a few minutes of watching the prop turn and thinking of more ways to escape, we started to move. We taxied away from the other small planes and onto the runway. After getting permission to take off, we quickly gained speed; I could feel the plane shaking, then slowly lifting off the ground.

It was a sunny day with few clouds. The pilot kept pressing buttons and I wondered if he really knew what he was doing, but somehow we were staying aloft. He decided to give the controls to my dad. After the pilot pressed a few more buttons and demonstrated how to hold the steering wheel, my dad was flying the plane. We made a quick dive and then back up, which made me feel as if I were on a roller coaster, but worse because I couldn’t see the track ahead.

The plane started to bounce and the pilot quickly took back control. I could see the terror in my dad’s face. The pilot started to radio the control station that we had hit turbulence. I didn’t understand how this was possible since it was a beautiful day, but it was very windy a few thousand feet up. I gripped my seat and stared at the ground, trying to convince myself we were not about to crash. The plane kept jumping up and down and the door seemed as though it would wiggle off. After a few minutes of terror, the plane straightened out and I started to breathe normally again.

We flew over the Battlefield Mall, the pool where I worked, and I even saw my house. Eventually, our lesson was over and we returned to the runway. We started to dip down and it appeared we were going to miss the runway and land in trees, but somehow we landed on the concrete strip and followed the yellow stripes, gradually slowing. It seemed like forever until the plane actually stopped. I was excited to get off and was still a little shaky - it felt good to have my feet back on the ground. The smile on my dad’s face could not have been bigger. Father’s Day was complete with a rickety old plane, and huge smiles on our faces. My dad would have been content with a new tie, but our experience made that Father’s Day unforgettable.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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