ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – After a couple of minutes sitting in the pilot’s seat of a Boeing 737, 5-year-old Hudson got to hear a secret from his co-pilot for the day, Southwest Airlines pilot Mike Hickey.
“It’s really, really easy,” Hickey told the boy. “Nobody knows so don’t tell anybody. Only the pilots knows how easy it is.”
Hudson beamed and then started asking a flood of questions.
This meeting between a kindergarten student and a veteran of the skies isn’t the first time the two have seen each other.
That first encounter happened back in July. Hudson, his grandfather and his mom were out at the Sunport’s North viewing area watching the planes take off and land. Hickey was pulling out from Gate A-6 when he spotted the young boy pressed up against the fence.
“He’s over waving at airplanes and I didn’t see that he was being successful at getting a wave back,” Hickey said.
So Hickey pulled the plane close to the fence.
“I said let’s wave,” said Dan Dvorak, Hudson’s grandfather. “[Hudson] waved and I waved and the pilot opened the window and waved back.”
Hickey says he took the time to wave because he remembers being in Hudson’s shoes, waving at planes at Dallas Love Field when he was his age.
“When [Hickey] waved back there was this little explosion between my dad and Hudson,” said Trisha Hughes, Hudson’s mom.
Hughes captured the moment in a picture and posted it on Facebook with a thank you. Southwest saw it and decided to arrange a face-to-face meeting between the boy and the pilot.
Hudson came prepared with a picture he drew of the moment the pilot waved at him to give to Hickey as a present.
“It’s for my pilot,” Hudson said. “Because he waved at me and that was really polite.”
Hudson says because of the wave, he now wants to be a pilot when he grows up. After a quick handshake and a hug, Hickey took Hudson into what could be his future office, the cockpit.
“I think Hudson has a great future as a pilot,” Hickey said. “It’s just a love for aviation. I could spot that in him right away.”
The two played around with the yoke, the throttle and Hudson even got to try out his best captain voice on the plane’s PA system.
Hudson’s picture was well received, but he got even more back including a hat, an orange tarmac safety vest, bags of pretzels and peanuts, magnets, stickers and a miniature jet of his own.
Another big gift Hudson almost didn’t see at first was a free flight from Southwest. The note attached said it was so he could enjoy the view from the sky instead of just the ground.
Hudson says he wants to use it for a trip to Denver to see his “girlfriend”.
That Albuquerque to Denver route could be one he flies someday, all because a pilot took the time to send a friendly wave his way.