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.
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.”
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.
- 1984 As I reflect on the prior twenty years, I realize they were simply preparation for what lay ahead. The business crisis was behind me. I was now a private pilot with an instrument rating. I could go anywhere in almost any kind of weather. But thus far I was sharing planes with other pilots. Having paid ...Read more
- 1984-1986 Baron N4801J arrived at my hangar in early May. By the end of the month, I learned to fly this new bird and made two long cross country trips. I could manage all the dials and switches and, when things were routine, was quite comfortable flying it. Much like when Dad had the Bonanza, I flew ...Read more
- 1986-1987 As anyone who has observed a newly minted teenage driver’s first few years on the road (or those who can honestly remember their own), earning the license is when the real learning begins. My experience as a pilot was no different. In my rush to attain a bunch of ratings (Private, Instrument, Commercial, Instructor, and Multi-engine), ...Read more
- 1986 Reassessment Although the FAA had certified me to fly a five thousand pound twin with 570 horsepower through the sky at more than 190 knots (220 mph) in all kinds of weather, a streak of burnt rubber on the pavement and a mashed up runway light off to the side left me not so sure. Much ...Read more
- Flying the Mooney for a year and a half had given me just the remedial practice I needed. By this time I had logged more than 800 hours. Now, it was time to simply enjoy flying to the max. Getting in the plane had become as natural as getting in a car. If a destination ...Read more