A baby’s young life can be full of milestones – first smile, first tooth, first solid food, first word and so on! You parents can perhaps relate. I wonder if any “first” is celebrated or rejoiced over as much as baby’s first steps – unaided that is. I’m talking about actual walking – getting from point A to point B on his or her own little tootsies, by his or her own little self. Such a milestone was just observed in Virginia by my son Scott, the dad; Colleen, the mom; and Emily, the older sister. And the object of their rapt attention and their swelling pride? That would be James Andrew McAvoy, the 12 and ½ month-old son and little brother. Yes, Mary’s and my grandson took his first steps recently, and though we were not there to witness this milestone, we were present when our son Scott walked for the first time 33 years ago. I was so filled with awe then that I wrote about the achievement at the time, and I thought I would share it now as a way to mark our grandson’s accomplishment by recounting the time when his dad had his own moment of glory and his parents their moment of pride.
At 1900 hours on 30 January, 1984, the dining room runway of the Mt. Vernon Ave. Airport was cleared. For a couple of weeks, pilot-student Scott had been undergoing rigorous flight training under the watchful eyes of his flight instructors – his mom and dad. His training had consisted of him walking between his parents, each holding tightly and reassuringly to one of his hands, which were raised high above his head for balance.
He appeared ready for his first solo flight! All necessary requirements of flight school had been fulfilled: he met the age requirement (13 ½ months old), he had logged sufficient practice hours, and perhaps most importantly, he looked confident and READY!
The flight number called, the runway cleared, the control tower alerted, our pipsqueak pilot took his place at the controls, still grasping his mother’s two hands. I took a position a few yards away, my outstretched arms encouraging and beckoning Flight #1 to soar toward me. The launch commenced! Off he lurched, both arms high above his head acting as vertical wings, waving wildly. One, two, three steps, tottering, unsteady, toppling, crashing, laughing steps into the welcoming arms of his father. Flight #1 abruptly landed with a soft thud (of course we chose the plushest carpet, er . . . runway in the house). Undaunted, Scott, the proud pilot, was quickly back on his feet ready to do it again and again. Two flight instructors beamed with a ton of pride and a tinge of sadness as our little pilot graduated from flight school!