When Rob Krajcik of Springfield, Mass., was deciding how to help his 20-year-old daughter Marissa develop some outside interests, his first thought was to take her flying.
So, for his next flight lesson at Westfield-Barnes Airport, Marissa rode along in the backseat of a Cessna 172—her first flight in a small airplane.
“Marissa really enjoyed the flight and wanted to try it herself,” said Rob, 55. He recalled his discovery flight lesson out of Northampton Airport in Massachusetts—a birthday gift from his girlfriend in September 2007.
“It was exciting, but I was nervous,” he said. “I remember telling my very relaxed-looking CFI, ‘You are going to help me land this thing, aren’t you?’”
Marissa flew out of the same airport and experienced similar emotions.
“I was nervous, and I remember making it clear to my instructor that I didn’t know anything about airplanes,” she said. “I was scared beyond measure. I was going up into the sky in an airplane with a stranger.”
Helping to ease her nerves before takeoff, Rob stood outside the airplane with his camera, taking close-ups of Marissa in the cockpit.
“I could tell he was proud,” she said.
Together, they’ve continued flight training, sharing their love of flying along the way.
Every weekend, Marissa drives almost four hours from Syracuse University in New York to her home in Granby, Conn., where she visits with her mother, brother, and stepfather in between flight lessons.
“I enjoy going to the airport every week, and I know my life would be void without it,” said Marissa. With 28 hours of flight time, she completed her first solo in January 2009 in a Piper Warrior.
With 49 hours in his logbook—due to a small hiatus while saving for a down payment on a house—Rob completed his first solo in March 2009 in a Cessna 172.
“I was definitely ready. I had done my homework,” he said. “I was alone in the airplane, but I could still hear my CFI as though he were right next to me. What a feeling of accomplishment! I’ll never forget it.”
Marissa appreciates her father’s help—funding her flight training, answering aviation-related questions, and lending his books and study materials.
“In the beginning, I’d ask him about everything on the car ride to the airport,” said Marissa. “Now, I can carry on conversations with my father over dinner about flying.”
Marissa is also exploring her options in school, including the possibility of becoming a career pilot.
“I’m encouraging her to continue on beyond the private pilot certificate to get her commercial and see where that goes,” said Rob, adding that he likes to teach and hopes to become a basic ground instructor upon earning his certificate.
“As of now, flying is a serious hobby,” said Marissa. “I’m even thinking about starting up a flying club at the university. I can’t get enough of the sky.”