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I Grew up Hanging Upside Down in the Seat of an Aerobatics Airplane January 9, 2013

Editor’s Note: The following story originally ran in Julie’s Fresh Air in 2010.

Recently, Aunt Sandy and I took the nieces and nephews down to Da and Pappa’s (Mom and Dad’s) to hang out on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Whenever we’re there the lazy Sunday afternoon turns busy and fun. Mom and Dad live in a development that caters to

Kirby Chambliss in the Perth Red Bull Air Race...
Kirby Chambliss in the Perth Red Bull Air Race, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

pilots. So everyone has a plane and invariably someone’s up in the air. And while we enjoy all our adventures at my parents, I think of life growing up with a pilot. My brother, Brent, explains it best.

By Brent Murphree
I tell people I grew up hanging upside down in the seat of an aerobatics airplane. Dad (Pat Murphree) and Uncle David (Taylor) were obsessed with airplanes early on. After they began having children, their kids were often included in their high-flying fun.

Dad could always find an excuse to fly. He even wove it into his farming saying he could see things better up in the sky (but upside down?). He and every other flying farmer were probably right, or making excuses.

As a toddler, one of my first memories is a flight I took with Dad and Uncle David. Uncle David was working for the State of Arizona and would call Dad if he wanted company on one of his flights. They strapped me into one of the seats behind the pilot seats on the twin engine plane and took off.

I had been in airplanes before but my perceptions of space and perspective were still developing. The take off was a regular process and not something that concerned me at the time. However, this time when we got into the air I noticed this place where all the houses and cars where the same size as some of the little cars I played with at home.

The houses were so cool and the cars stayed on the little perfect roads. I remember thinking of the perfect size, the perfect houses and the perfect little town. The overwhelming thought was that I had to convince Dad to take me to the little town. Dad and Uncle David just laughed at me. No matter how I tried to get them to take me to the little town that was somewhere near Mesa they would not take me there.

Another time Dad and I flew with Uncle David to Douglas, Arizona to pick up the governor’s son. The plane was larger than the one we took over the little town. In this large plane the cabin was separated from the cockpit. The cabin had nice seats and a coffee bar. While in flight I discovered that inside the coffee bar was a box of sugar cubes.

I started by getting just one cube, taking it back to my seat and letting it melt in my mouth. For a young kid, I believe I had great restraint. What preschooler would eat only a few sugar cubes? I remember thinking that I could only eat enough sugar cubes so that no one would notice that I had been in the cabinet. Today I would be pretty suspicious of a kid who was that sneaky.

On the way home with the governor’s son I was a perfect gentleman. While in flight and after I had become familiar with him, I asked him if he would like a sugar cube.


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1. Pennee - October 18, 2010

And I was on the ground holding my breath in that little town.

2. Brent Murphree - October 18, 2010

I’m still looking for the perfect little town with the little cars and houses.

3. Suzie Nelson - October 19, 2010

I enjoyed your reminiscence of flying, little towns and sugar cubes! When I fly, I especially love to fly over little and big towns like Phoenix and Vegas where there are palm trees and swimming pools!

4. Donna Pearce Johnson - October 19, 2010

When our family farmed in Eloy, my Uncle Paul (Pearce) would fly from our house (located close to the Eloy Airport now) to the farm in the Green Reservoir. My cousin Ted lived there, so I would get to go with Uncle Paul and play for the day while he worked. At the age of 4, I was hooked on airplanes! Even now when I pass Sky Harbor, I just want to park and get on a plane! How times have changed! Grew up watching Mr. Murphree do his plane stunts every Stagecoach Day. Good memories!