Back in the early 1980s, I had the pleasure of serving as flight instructor to primary student Fraser Heston. A mutual friend and former student, Ralph, introduced Fraser to me and wanted to have Fraser take his primary instruction in Ralph’s Piper PA-18 Super Cub, a descendant of Piper’s Venerable J3 Cub. I was one of the few taildragger instructors at SMO then, so I got the job.
Clickable image: Fraser Heston posing by Ralph’s Super Cub (found during the big house cleaning)
One of the big events was when Fraser was to have his first solo flight. His Father, the immortal Charlton Heston brought the family to witness the event. After a few trips around the traffic pattern as dual instruction, Fraser was ready to make his three take-offs and landings to a full stop (touch and go landings don’t count for taildraggers). I got out of the airplane near the gas pit where there was an observation deck. I introduced myself to “Chuck” and his family as Fraser taxied out for take-off.
Fraser’s three trips around the pattern were flawless. His landings were smooth and uneventful – which is a good thing. We cheered from the observation deck as Fraser taxied back for each subsequent takeoff. after the last landing, Fraser taxied to the tie-down area next to the observation deck and we all met him there.
Chuck proposed a toast to the event. The family brought a bottle of champagne and several little plastic champagne glasses. Chuck had to pour the champagne into glasses on the horizontal stabilizer of an adjacent Cessna since Ralph’s airplane’s horizontal stabilizers aren’t horizontal on the ground. We toasted to Fraser’s perfect first solo flight. The family then adjourned to have brunch in Westwood Village.
Verna and I were honored to be invited to the screening of “Mother Lode” a few weeks later. We both met with Charlton Heston, the star of the film, and with Fraser, the writer and producer. On the way out, Verna (literally) bumped into Lou Ferigno, star of “The Incredible Hulk.” That was a fun night.
I am very proud to have these events in my pilot logbook. I still brag about having this experience from time to time. This is one of those times.