One of my first flights after getting my private pilot's license was taking my wife up with me. I had had it in my mind while learning to fly that it would be a fun thing to do to bring her up for flights; she loves to go out for a drive and see the sights, and seeing them from an airplane is much more fun than seeing them from a car stuck in traffic.
That being said, I want flying to be fun for her, not something that she reluctantly does because I like it. I briefed her on the flight before we left for the airport and repeatedly assured her that this was for fun; if she ever felt uncomfortable, or wanted to turn back and land, or just did not want to go, I would never hold it against her. This was something that I harped on in my passenger brief: I didn't want her to come away from her first flight, or any flight with me, feeling frightened or anxious.
So it was that we drove to the airport on a bright, sunny Central Florida day. The weather looked perfect for flying, and I called the ASOS from my cell phone as we drove through the gates of the airport. Skies clear, visibility 10 miles, winds calm...perfect.
We walked into the FBO and I signed out the aircraft we were renting for the flight, an old Cessna 150 that I had spent a lot of training time in. We walked out onto the ramp, and passed by dozens of airplanes: new Cessna 172's, some Warriors, even a couple of Lake Amphibians. And all the way at the end of the flight line we found the little 150, parked next to its more luxurious cousin the 172.
"This is it," I said, gesturing at the mighty 150.
"Really?" said my wife. She seemed shocked that I could fit into it, and intimated to me that the thought of me and my 6'4'' instructor both cramming into the 150 was pretty humorous.
We preflighted the plane, re-checked the ASOS, and taxied out to the end of the runway. I did the runup, giving her a basic explanation of what was going on, and started to move onto the runway.
"Wait! Stop!" she said to me. I stopped just outside the hold-short line, off the runway.
"I...I just feel like I need to say a prayer before we take off in this thing."
"Do you want me to go back? We don't have to fly today if you don't want to."
"We can go, just...um...let me say a little prayer first."
I stopped and let the fan turn at idle for a moment as my wife uttered a brief prayer. Now divinely insured, she gave me her go-ahead and we taxied out and took off.
The first few minutes she felt a little nervous, but as we got to our house and did some turns-around-a-point so she could see it, she began to have fun. We flew over some local landmarks, and then turned and flew back over some scenic buildings before returning to the airport.
All in all, the first flight with the wife was a resounding success. Despite some initial anxiety, she had a blast, and has gotten excited about continuing to fly. We have a few other local flights planned, and I'm glad that she seems to enjoy flying with me as much as I enjoy flying.