Skip to content

Flying back to Kyle’s ninth birthday

Nine-year-old reaches for the sky with first flying lesson- Latrobe Bulletin

Kyle Piper and his pappy Piper
Kyle in flight jacket (courtesy of Nicole). Kyle and his pap pap are both stinkers.

Before the days get past me, I wanted to tell about our trip to the Airshow last weekend. Kyle and I went to the Westmoreland County airshow at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe, PA.  This was the first airshow they’ve had in 10 years.  It’s amazing how things have changed in a decade.  If I could take Kyle back in time, 10 years to the day of August 20, 2001, he would see what I was talking about.  I guess there’s two ways of looking at reminiscing: Personally and globally. Either way, on a personal note, my brother was still alive with a new little baby boy who wasn’t even a month old, and globally, 911 never happened yet.  To me, the earlier tragedy was as impactful on me and my family if not more than the later tragedy.

Kyle Piper at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport Aunt Heather Piper
Kyle at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport - Latrobe, PA

As Kyle and I walked around, he would comment, “Aunt Heather I’ve never been to an airshow before.” and, “Remember when I flew an airplane?”  Kyle is something else!  Only he could take me out of my funk and put me in a different place. And yes, Kyle did fly an airplane, a small Piper four seater for his ninth birthday. As I’ve always mentioned, I don’t believe in giving him toys and such for his birthday and special occasions, so he gets unconventional gifts. For his ninth birthday I bought him a one hour flying lesson with an instructor. I was allowed to tag along in the backseat, along with my photographer.  She was getting action shots.  It was a blast, doing positive and negative G-forces! Kyle even waved the wing and looped around St. Vincent College. That was a moment I was told he would never forget. And you know what? So far, it hasn’t slipped his memory.

kyle piper in mid flight in the air
Kyle took his job at flying the airplane very seriously!

As we walked around, I realized that I had forgotten my sunscreen.  Yikes!  My skin is very pale and burns easily.  I kinda nudged him and I asked, “How long do you want to stay?”  His response, “The entire time!”  Well that just said what I would be paying for later on.  I tried to get in the shade as much as possible.  I found us a perfect shady spot under the wing of a huge airplane parked on the ground.  Kyle was content being there, that is until the jets came out to do a dog fighting demonstration.  He proceeded to move toward the fence so he was as close to the runway as he could possibly be.  I held my position until too many people blocked my view of Kyle.  I headed to stand beside him and share his excitement of the planes doing flybys and tricks.  It really was exciting and fun to watch.  They even had a school bus, redesigned of course, which held a jet engine in the rear.  The bus drove up and down the runway with the flames projecting from the rear.  It was an experience, feeling the heat from the flames and hearing the sound of the engine it revved up as it projected itself across the runway at 500 and some miles an hour. Amazing!!! Kyle loved it!

kyle piper make the Latrobe Bulletin
Yep, Kyle made the front page of the Latrobe Bulletin. He was interviewed after his flight.

Now what really amazed me was my dad. He couldn’t get over me being so burned.  That cracks me up! Has he not known me for my entire existence?  This isn’t a new concept of me being burnt. In fact, my sister and mom are the same way.  My brother would initially burn, but it would turn to a tan.  Ryan also had a job in the summer where he mowed lawns, so he was always outside in the sun.  Then there’s my dad, with his dark leather skin, who probably never had the experience of burning, ever!  Of course he worked outside in the woods his entire life.  He started making posts when he was nine and was a woodsman, chopping down trees the better part of his life.  No wonder he had a personal understanding with the sun.

Kyle Pipers surprise birthday gift
Kyle was smiling from ear to ear. He loved his surprise birthday gift.

Yep, we did have a lot of fun at the airshow! It was even worth the sunburn to my face, neck, arms, and lower legs, not to mention the week of peeling I experienced following the airshow. Kyle was a little pink, but his skin is more used to the sun than mine or he’s more like my brother and dad and can take it better. Even so, I loved how Kyle would talk about his flight while we walked around. It was nice to see Kyle remembering being at the airport, going down the runway, and flying over Latrobe. Yep, I think that was a gift well worth it!

Arnold Palmer Regional Airport- Airshow 2011
Arnold Palmer Regional Airport- Airshow 2011

See Kyle’s story:



24-7 Press Release on Kyle Piper - Aunt Heather Piper     Press Release on Kyle Piper Aunt Heather Piper

Press Release Point on Kyle Piper - Aunt Heather Piper

Published inEducation & LearningMilestoneObservation & ImaginationReminiscingTravels

Be First to Comment

%d bloggers like this: