Written by Jon Reed   
First Passengers

My first big break! After 6 months of nagging and pleading I was finally given a shot! I was selected as an alternate to fly traffic watch. The call to action came shortly there after and I was ready to go. 3:00pm show at Hillsboro Airport where I anxiously waited the arrival of my first paying passengers. Ron and Dennis, two local radio station traffic reporters who combined had a total of 20,000 hours in a 172. My 700 hours did not seem like much compared to these guys.

They were all business, loaded up and we were off to cruise the skies of Portland. They were a little weary of the ?new guy? but quickly settled into their routine. It was one of the greatest feelings I have ever had. The first time I was getting paid, be it not much, but I was flying my first paying passengers! The three hour flight went by quickly and soon it was time to head home to Hillsboro Airport. I knew from the senior traffic watch pilot these guys wanted home as fast as possible when their shift was up and they expected you to deliver. I nosed over the 172, kept it fast in the descent and made my way home.

It was a great feeling. To finally use the skills I had been honing, to deliver my passengers safely, efficiently and professionally. I made a short approach, landed and was able to make the first taxiway off the runway. (apparently this is how these guys judge pilots, by landing smooth and making the first taxiway)

We taxied into the ramp, killed the motor and they were out like a flash. ?Good Job? they mumbled as they ran towards their cars. ?see you next time?. I was in.

Shortly there after I made it to regular status and flew Ron and Dennis most days of the year. It was the first time I had to make decisions as the PIC with operational considerations. If we couldn?t fly, or make it into a area, they didn?t get the story. The next 6 months was filled with lots of uncomfortable situations

Can we go?

Is it legal?

Is it safe?

It set the stage for all the flying jobs I have had since and was amazing experience. We had our laughs too from the guys pretending there was a bee in the cabin, to squirting water bottles when they fell asleep, it was a great time in the sky. My first passengers.