The silver eagle has landed

We had a little family thing today. My stepfather ended his career as a commercial pilot, these last 31 years flying with UPS. They let his family and friends come onto the tarmac on one of their terminals to watch his last landing. Here’s a bit of video:

He flew in from Seattle. His son, who is also a pilot and presently in training to join the UPS fleet, was able to ride the jump seat with his dad. How neat and unique an experience for the both of them. He taught his son to fly and one day he’ll perhaps be covering the same sky routes. The rest of us had a great view for the touch down and the ceremonial fire truck action. Rick walked down the steps from the cockpit, did his last ever inspection and saw his many friends and family who had gathered to celebrate with him. He had family who flew in from Texas. Retired former colleagues came from all over. There was a professional photographer to capture the wonderful little moment. Meanwhile, UPS was trying to get the plane ready for its next flight. They don’t sit still for very long.

Some of us got to go up and take a quick picture with him in the cockpit. This is a quick one, though I’m promised a few more.

It was a wonderful treat, one of those moments that you instantly know will become a keepsake.

There was also a little ceremony in the UPS offices, where the management folks and his many professional friends were able to say a few lovely things. Rick got to speak last, of course. There were many kind memories and laughter and tears and even a song or two shared. All of the people that had gathered to see him off were saying happy and wonderful things about the man. He was humbled and proud of the turnout and the sentiment. He kept thanking people for coming and they kept saying “Of course we’d be here.” I always think, in moments like that, “Where else would I be? It is a privilege to be a part of this,” which is no kind of answer to people who are pleased to see you in their moment. But that’s the emotion of the moment.

And it is a big moment for him, of course. He’d still fly if they let him, but federal laws are things big companies sometimes follow. He will still fly, but now only privately.

In between elements of the day’s festivities The Yankee and I invented a new game. We’re now taking photos of the most arcane things possible. The game is made up and the points don’t matter, but we had a good time with it. She won, but only barely. I’ll share a few of mine in a few days.

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