Hayden Mercil, 8, at the controls of the Cessna 180 his dad, Rick Mercil, piloted during a recent day trip for a burger to Sunset Lodge on Oak Island of Lake of the Woods.
By Rick Mercil
LAKE OF THE WOODS, Minn. — Eight years ago in January, my life changed forever when Rosa and I adopted our son, Hayden. Our adult girls had left the nest, and this little guy came into our lives out of our desire to provide him a home.
Fast forward eight years, and I not only have a son, but I have a co-pilot, too. This was never more evident than on Monday, Jan. 16.
Hayden and I both had the day of for the Martin Luther King Day holiday. We decided to take advantage of the beautiful bluebird day to fly my 1957 Cessna 180 from Crookston up to the Northwest Angle of Lake of the Woods for a burger at Sunset Lodge on Oak Island.
During the flight, Hayden got 50 cents if he pointed out any towers along the route and $1 if he spotted an airport. We made funny noises in the microphone through the headsets and told silly jokes to each other, just the two of us.
It was a perfect father-son day. You can imagine the fun we had!
The flight to the Angle took about an hour, and we landed on the ice road near Oak Island. We taxied up to Sunset Lodge and went in and had the best hamburger this side of U.S. Highway 2.
Before we left, Hayden had the biggest bowl of ice cream he had ever seen.
When we departed, the moan of the old Continental engine tired the little guy out. He put his head on my lap and fell right to sleep. It was only when I radioed the Crookston airport to announce my flight intentions that he awakened. The day ended perfectly, and I couldn't have been happier.
It was one of the best flying experiences I ever had—and I've had a few.