L.A. County Museum of the Arts Director, Michael Govan, Gives Daughter Amazing Gift

  • Jan 31, 2014 12:55pm GMT

For my Daughter's 16th birthday, I gave her flying lessons—and the chance to use them.

I've had my own private pilot's license since 1995. A lot of why I fly is the visual splendor of the aerial perspective. You experience the landscape in a different way from up there. You feel the topography; there's more light, a variety of textures. Ariana is a New York City kid, an urban-canyon dweller, and I wanted to teach her about all that, as well as wind, moisture, altitude, air density—things that are invisible but become very present when your life depends on them.

My plan was for her to learn the basics with three weeks of lessons, then come on my annual cross-country flight. One of the most difficult things about my move from New York to Los Angeles in 2006 was that Ariana wanted to stay behind to finish high school; flying from California to Massachusetts over a week would let me spend a lot of time with her. And I thought she might be able to write about it for her college essay—a cause dear to my heart. "Maybe I'll come to California for college," she'd said.

We flew my 1968 Cessna 150, a bright-yellow plane with a Tweety Bird painted on the tail; it cost $20,000—less than my used car. The Cessna 150 is one of the smallest planes you can buy. It's also among the safest—it's slow (in a headwind, no faster than a car), doesn't go high enough to require oxygen and can land almost anywhere.

For further reading: The Wall Street Journal