Saturday, July 14, 2012

The one ride I want to give

I know I'm asking to do the impossible, but I have to give a try anyway.

My mother is 90 years old, doesn't move so well anymore, and -- let's face it -- we're running out of time.

I'm hoping to take N614EF back to Fitchburg, Massachusetts sometime after Oshkosh. Showing it to her would probably be good enough, but if I had one wish right now, it would be to figure out how to get a 90 year old woman who doesn't move so well in and out of an RV.

"I'd love to see what my house looks like from the air," she said to me five years ago when I took her on her first -- and only -- ride in a small airplane.

It was a Piper Warrior, which -- as you probably know -- requires you to get up on a wing to get in. She couldn't get up on a wing, so she just sort of leaned against it and started rolling herself up. "I'm not going to miss this, " she said.

And so we flew -- and I realize many of you have heard this story -- and she told me how she wanted to be like Amelia Earhart.

"Fly the plane, Amelia," I said.

We landed in a small town, and sat on a bench overlooking the prairie for a half hour or so, she went back to her childhood, on the farm in Ohio.

I'd give anything to give her a ride in the plane I built, the one that's numbered in her honor, and grant her that wish to see her house from the air, and maybe be Amelia Earhart one more time.

But, of course, the RV isn't built for giving rides to elderly people who have a hard time moving, and who probably -- well, really there's no probably about it -- couldn't lift themselves OUT of a seat.

Still, although I'm out of ideas, I have to give it one more try to see if anyone has ever developed a contraption or method of doing this.

Or, are there enough RVers near Fitchburg, Massachusetts who could figure out a way to lift her in?


  1. A swing lift - on a ramp - might work to get her up and over the wing, but getting her legs into the plane and easing her into the seat might be a trick in that you'll have to have someone on the pilot's seat guiding and someone on the other side keeping her from swinging.

    My grandfather required one to transfer him out of bed, into his wheelchair, and into his livingroom chair. It's basically a net "chair" that connects to cables and jacks up and down, with wheels.

    Let's see if we can figure a way. There must be a way.

  2. Reminds me of the time I donated a plane ride in my Alon Aircoupe to a charity auction. The winner's gal-friend called me to arrange the time and place, and said, "he's an elderly gentleman, and a bit stiff." "No problem!" said I. But it was a problem. It took 15-20 mins to get him on the wing, over the sill, and into the seat, and longer to reverse it. While the fellow seemed to enjoy it, I resolved after that to never promise a ride to someone I had not met personally.

    Oh, the winning bid for the ride? $50. Woulda been cheaper and way easier to pay that myself.


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