Student Pilot Karl flies the band in AZ
Mon., Dec. 4. 2006 7:14pm EST
Cue Don Mclean's "American Pie."
Our guitarist/producer, Karl Messner is finally getting to check off one of the longstanding chores on his lifelong to-do list. Like Dave Grohl, he's learning to fly. A long, long time ago, he had the opportunity to beat the world record for youngest solo pilot. That record was held by Betty Bennett who was 12. Her father, Al Bennett, was a friend of the family and repeatedly offered/teased/threatened to help Karl beat her world record. When Mom wouldn't hear of it, he settled on another relative and did eventually beat Betty's record by 2 years in 1983.
Karl never got to fly with Al but was given a tour of the cockpit of a commercial liner before it took off (imagine pulling THAT off nowadays with a non-ticketed family touring a plane full of passengers). He didn't even get to FLY on that plane or any other until his maiden voyage to France on his last day of being 16.
But all that changed this year with his first chance at the yoke in a private plane over the Grand Canyon, no less! This past weekend saw a repeat performance and the third and fourth lesson for Karl in the driver's seat of the Turbo Prop.
Thanks to our two-time concert promoter Orville (no joke) Wiseman of Wiseman aviation, not only did we get the jet set treatment to our performance in Flagstaff, but it also doubled as Karl's third in-air flight lesson. His fourth lesson was the flight back to Phoenix the next morning where he got to do his first take-off.
After we were cleared for takeoff, Orville pushed the engines to full speed and handed it over to Karl. Karl took off, navigated to Chandler airport and commanded the King Air 90 right up to final approach before handing it back to Orville to land.
We had some extra headsets with microphones in the back for the guys and bass player Keith chimed in several times in true Keith fashion–-in helping to navigate around Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport (the 6th busiest airspace in the country), Orville instructed Karl to, "Fly to that mountain over there."
Without missing a beat Keith clarifies, "He said, 'to', Karl–not 'IN to.'"
On one of the legs, we grabbed a tiny little bit of video to put you in the little bitty plane with us.