A 4-year-old’s giggles and cries for “encore” was a father’s day gift Raphaël Langumier will long remember, and one that he shared with the world in a video that instantly became an online hit. About a minute in, viewers see Léa’s face light up with laughter and delight as she experiences her first roll. More would follow, and a loop, prompting cries of “again, again!” in French.
Langumier, based in Quebec, and reached by telephone, said Léa has been flying with him since she was 2, and “she likes to fly.” He had shown her lazy 8s and chandelles before, but June 14 marked her first foray into the inverted realm. Her father said he was “50 percent surprised” that Léa took to it with such obvious enthusiasm.
“I was surprised that she loved all the time doing loops and rolls,” said Langumier, an accomplished aviator who first learned to fly in his native France, starting in gliders at age 16. He has since logged more than 8,000 hours in more than 60 different aircraft, including the SAM LS, serving as the company test pilot. Langumier also flies the Convair 580 for Nolinor Aviation, a charter operator. For the June 14 flight, he chose a Citabria. (American viewers may note the absence of parachutes, which are not required for aerobatic flight in Canada.)
Few of his passengers can match Léa’s enthusiasm, and Langumier said that if that came as a surprise, the world’s reaction to the video has been even more so.
“I didn’t think that it could be viral,” Langumier said of the video, which had been viewed nearly 300,000 times by June 17. A local television station in Quebec asked for an interview, along with the Toronto Star and CBC, Canada’s national broadcasting network.
As a flight instructor, Langumier said he hoped the video would help prospective aerobatic students overcome any reluctance they might feel about the experience.
“I hope that if they are afraid, they will change their minds,” Langumier said. “We can do aerobatics in an easy way, a safe way.”
Léa herself might well be taking lessons sooner or later, though her dad said that will be her decision to make.
“Depending what she wants, she’s free to decide what she wants to do,” Langumier said. “I would be very happy.”
It appears there is more than a 50 percent chance.