“This story takes place around 2007, when I was about 15 or so. For a short backstory, my Dad was a pilot for a little over 20 years. In 2007, he was still flying for a private charter company who gave him a semi-old Merlin to fly. His job was to fly the owners of the plane to anywhere they needed to go to run their businesses in the US, or take them on vacation with their families. Around this time, my parents were filing for a divorce, and my dad decided I needed a vacation from my toxic mother. After getting the ok from the boss he was scheduled to fly, my dad surprised me and told me he was taking me with him to Florida for a few days. Obviously, I was super excited, since I loved flying with my dad in co-pilot ever since I was little. Of course, I loved watching him work, it was always really cool.
My dad and I got up at around 4:00 AM and drove to the small airport where he had parked his plane. He left it there when he wasn’t working, so he wouldn’t have to make the 4+ hour drive into the big city where his bosses were stationed at. After we flew to the small charter airport in the big city, we prepared the plane by cleaning the leather seats, and restocked the cooler of drinks. Once his boss and his family arrived, my dad and I loaded up their luggage. Already, my dad was a bit uneasy. You see, with a Merlin, you’re not supposed to load up the back side of the plane with too much weight, as it causes the tail to dip a bit. If you load it too much, it can either cause the plane to tip backwards, or potentially damage the tail on takeoff. Luckily, my dad managed to convince his boss to leave behind things they wouldn’t really need on the trip, so their personal driver could take it back home.
Boss and my dad got along pretty well and he made sure to always take my dad’s word very seriously, since my dad was an expert pilot. Boss’ wife, on the other hand, was a VERY entitled person, who will now be called Angie. She brought a nanny with her (lets call her Steph) that was her personal friend. Steph’s job was to babysit Angie’s two boys (around 5 and 6), and also babysit Angie’s 1 year old baby daughter while on this trip. Dad was already a bit angry, because he had already put it in their Flight Plan that we only had six people and one infant in total on the plane, and didn’t know Angie was bringing Steph. Now, he needed to make a few phone calls to fix this so he wouldn’t get in trouble with the FAA.
While my dad was doing this, Angie was whining and moaning about how hot it was sitting in the plane. She was whining about my dad taking so long. Thankfully, Boss told her to stop and reassured her we would take off soon. Already, I had a bad impression of her. This was gonna be a long flight.
We took off from the airport, and while the family and Steph sat in the back, my dad got to work. We were about an hour into our flight, when I noticed a flashing light on the console. I look down to see it was coming from what I call the Plane’s status gauge, and it was blinking red for the right wheel compartment. I asked my dad if that was normal and he seemed a bit confused. However, he reassured me that it shouldn’t be a problem. Few minutes later, the right side began to shake pretty badly in a rhythmic way, and we KNEW that was not turbulence. I asked him since on his GPS it said we were near another major city, if we should land and find out what’s wrong. He agreed, and after talking to Boss, we landed safely.
While we waited in the Terminal for Boss and Dad, I was watching the news in the main lobby while Angie and Steph (who was holding the baby) complained about the stop.
Angie: ‘Ugh, why did (Dad) land? We’re gonna be late!’
Steph: ‘Yeah, like, didn’t you have a reservation at (some rich restaurant)?’
Angie: ‘Ugh, yes. I’m gonna have to call my Driver to cancel it. I can’t believe (Dad) is trying to ruin this for me! I’m gonna have to talk to my husband about why he bothers with him. He’s clearly incompetent, and he looks like he’s lazy. I mean, look how fat he is!’
I was nearby. Listening. The whole time, as this arrogant woman was belittling my father behind his back. My dad is a very large man with Russian qualities. He had a very stern face most of the time, icy blue eyes, and has been through too much in his life, which has made him have a VERY straight to the point attitude. I respected my dad, and hearing her talk smack about him just made me furious. However, I didn’t want to get my dad into trouble for saying anything, so I just kept quiet and watched TV.
After about two hours of waiting, we find out the problem with the Merlin. It turned out that as we were taking off, a piece of metal debris that was on the runway, got sucked up into the wheel compartment of the right side, causing the landing gear’s hydraulics to not lock the wheels into place once the wheels went up. It was constantly moving up and down, tearing up the insides and damaging the wheel. We got VERY lucky that we decided to land, other wise it would have made it VERY dangerous for us to fly or land safely in Florida. If we made it there. So, my dad personally began to make calls to arrange another charter flight for Boss and family with the company at this airport, while Boss stayed with the plane to hear what it was going to cost to fix it.
Meanwhile, Angie is letting her two boys run around the terminal like wild monkeys. They were annoying the staff, leaving a mess, and overall just being wild animals. However, I don’t blame them. The only source of entertainment was the TV, and a pool table on the restricted second floor. The in-ground pool that was out back was closed due to cracks that needed to be repaired. I look to Angie and say this:
Me: ‘Excuse me, ma’am? It’s not really safe to let them run around. Your kids could get hurt.’
Angie: ‘Oh, they’re fine! Boys will be boys; You can just look after them.’
Me, blinking: ‘You.. want me to look after them…?’
Angie: ‘Of course! You’ve clearly been watching them, so you can just babysit them for now. After all, your dad said it will take a few hours, right? Steph and I are having a drink while we wait (she had Steph buy some bottles for the trip). Since she’s watching my baby, our hands are tied!
Me: ‘…You sure that’s a good idea?’
Angie: ‘It’ll be fine! I need my mommy time, so you can handle it, right? My boys are sweet, so if you tell them to stop, they’ll listen.’
That…didn’t happen. I ended up chasing the boys around the airport terminal for about three hours, telling them to stop or just trying to keep them from getting into more trouble. I had to pull them out of offices, keep them from crossing the DO NOT ENTER line for the pool, keep them out of the fridge in the Pilot lounge, and many times had to run outside to keep them from going out onto the airport Taxiway. I didn’t want to get blamed if they were run over or got seriously hurt from the equipment out on the ramp. While I was running around making sure these two didn’t get into more trouble, Angie continued to whine and complain about how long it was taking to leave, and how, ‘We’re not going to make it to the beach today. This trip is gonna be ruined! How could (Dad) do this to us?! My boys were looking forward to the beach!’
It was finally around 9:00 pm when the boys passed out in chairs in the Terminal. I was beyond exhausted, so I collapsed on the couch.
My dad came in to check on me, and he noticed how exhausted I was. He asked me if I was alright, and I made sure to quietly tell him what happened. I even pointed over to Angie and Steph, who were laughing while finishing off their second bottle of Cabernet. They were pretty sloshed, while the baby slept in her carrier beside them. My dad was MAD, but he was proud of me for trying to make sure he didn’t get into trouble. He knew he couldn’t take Angie on himself, since she was Boss’ wife. However, he knew how to get her into trouble in a professional manner.
He called his Boss and told him that they needed to talk about another safety issue that came up. When Boss shows up, he asks my dad whats wrong, and my dad said this…
Dad: ‘Sir, I just wanted to let you know that your wife and Nanny have had about two bottles of vino, and I will have to inform the pilot who will be flying you to Florida.’
Boss: ‘Really? Why?’
Dad: ‘You see, if someone is trashed while flying in a small charter plane like ours, it is very dangerous. A pilot will be obviously in the front seat, and unable to watch your wife and Nanny. If your Wife or Nanny had any complications, got sick, or needed any medical attention, there would be a high possibility the pilot wouldn’t be able to help or land quick enough to help them. Not to mention, one of them could open the hatch door and could risk killing everyone.’
The last part was bull, since most hatches were set up to open only in an emergency and were VERY hard to open.
Boss, visibly fuming: ‘What do you suggest?’
Dad: ‘Seeing as how Steph is trashed as well, I believe it would be safer to wait until tomorrow morning to leave. It’s not a good idea to put your kids in danger, especially at an airport or in the air. Thankfully, my daughter was able to keep them from going out onto the ramp, but I would seriously consider your options when flying, sir.
He basically told him the two would not be allowed to fly because of the safety reasons.
Boss walks over to his wife and Steph, and after arguing with her for a good while, he tells them they are staying the night in a hotel, and he and the kids will head to Florida ahead of them since he had a meeting first thing in the morning. Angie began to complain and yell at her husband, who quickly shut her down and told her he would send her home if she didn’t not listen to him. Since Steph got trashed on the job, he told her that she would be fired if he caught her doing that around his boys again. He even gave me $200 for keeping his kids out of trouble for Steph, which I shared with my Dad.
Boss left with the kids, the two women were taken by a driver to a hotel, and my dad and I took a flight all the way back home since we weren’t needed to fly them anymore. We ended up going to Colorado about a few weeks later once the plane was fixed.”