Jill Tallman

Bittersweet mission

April 20, 2009 by Jill W. Tallman, Associate Editor

Some folks have destinations all lined up for when they get their private pilot certificates (the beach! that great golf course! a fantastic ski resort!). Others are mission-minded: Angel Flight and animal rescue come to mind.

I have destinations. I also have missions. One is to fly my children to college visits. Daughter Maddie, a high-school junior, is busily checking out colleges. She did the Boston run in the fall with her dad. On Friday it was my turn to take her to Philadelphia.

We had a perfect flight Friday morning out of Frederick Municipal to Wings Field. (You can read a lot more about this historic airport–the birthplace of AOPA–in Julie Walker’s article in the May issue of AOPA Pilot.)

What would have taken three hours by car was compressed into about a one-hour flight. Hertz was only too glad to drop off a rental car at Wings. We stayed overnight so that we could enjoy the city. And on the way home Saturday, as the Archer bumped its way to 4,500 feet amid up- and downdrafts, my daughter said, “I had fun this weekend. ” Then she fell asleep. High praise indeed, coming from a teenager. I’ll take it, along with any opportunity to spend some quality time with my daughter before she heads off to new adventures.






5 Responses to “Bittersweet mission”

  1. Doug Says:


    Thanks for sharing this.

    My fourth and last child will graduate in May. All of my kids were a short flight away at college. A 3 hour drive or a 55 minute flight; working at an airport myself and the school having an airport made the possibility all the easier.

    Now that this chapter is coming to a close, I look back at lots of lost opportunities – sometimes I didn’t have the money (an acceptable excuse), sometimes I couldn’t find the time (in retrospect, no excuse at all).

    The times I did just ‘fly in’ to visit or the times I flew them back and forth for a special event or holiday are cherished memories that will never fade.

    As each chapter of a kid’s life passes, and a little saddness overcomes us, I’m always amazed at how even greater enjoyment comes from the next chapter.

    If you’ve sent a kid to college then I suspect you already know this – a parent will never cry harder then they will when they walk away from their first born, leaving them in a dormatory at college. Where did their childhood go? Walking into their empty room at home that first night is the second hardest a parent will cry.

    When you leave your second, third or fourth at college, it just isn’t the same as that first time.

    Graduation is May 17th. I’m looking forward to flying one last time and having him meet me on the ramp – smiles and hugs, one as big as the other.

    Once Maddie is settled in, I hope you’ll take a moment to share another mother / daughter / flying moment that will waken my own memories of college visits, kids growing into adults and family love.

  2. Jill Tallman Says:

    Thanks for your kind words and perspective as a parent who has “been there.” I’m dreading the day I leave my first-born at college, but I will keep in mind that this is a necessary part of growing up. : ) In the meantime, as you say, I’ll plan for times when I can zip over by airplane. Thank goodness she is planning to stay on the East Coast!

  3. butch wear Says:


  4. Doug Drummond Says:

    Many years ago, I did a similar college trip with my wife, daughter, and daughter’s five MONTH old baby. The baby’s eyes got really big when I started the engine, but she went right to sleep when I started taxiing.

    “Baby” Tylr is now entering high school and has a tiny bit of stick time herself. Finances permitting, I may be doing more college trips in a few years.

    I’m a 64 year old PP-ASEL-IA and pay attention to these safety tips.

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