A Lifetime of Flying

Little did know as a child sanding a chunk of pine that this was the beginning of a passion that would last the rest of my life.

Leland C. Clapper (Uncle Leland)

My Uncle Leland lived with us. His favorite indoor pastime was building model airplanes. And of course, whatever he was doing, I had to do, too. 

His airplane modeling skills were enough to earn prizes and eventually money. Of course, I wanted to be just like him. What I remember most was sanding. After sanding a wing for what must have been hours I was certain that it was perfect. “Uncle Leland, isn’t this great?” His reply never changed, “Keep sanding.” 

Multi Engine Instructor – The culmination of years of flying.

A few years later, Lee left us to enlist in the newly created United States Air Force. And I went on to other things that kids do. But my love of airplanes never died. As a college student, one course – Aviation 101 at the University of Illinois – shaped my life more than any other. At the end of the semester, I had earned three credit hours … PLUS a pilot license. Over the next 60 years I logged five thousand hours, flew dozens of airplanes, attained a host of pilot ratings … and even spent several years teaching others to fly. 

Though I’ve retired my wings in real airplanes my passion just won’t die – regrettably its now limited to flying a flight simulator at our local airport and talking about it. Anyone who’s familiar with smaller airports has seen and heard old guys sitting in the lounge, swapping lies about what it was like way back when. Over the coming year that’s just what I’ll be doing – in Grandpalyle’s Notebook. Taking a year or two at a time, I’ll share my logbook and reminisce about some of those old times. Hope you enjoy the journey as much as I know I will.


P.S. Check the smile on my face as I fly with Skip some years later.

Skip and Lyle $100 hamburger.


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