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.
- For most, Tuesday, September 11, 2001 began as an ordinary day. * * * My first student of the day was Bryan. An excellent student, he had become familiar with procedures at Palwaukee so when it was time to land I had him call the tower for instructions. That was the end ...Read more
- Two days after the World Trade Center Towers were attacked, I had the unique experience of flying a mission for Lifeline Pilots … when the skies over the U.S.A. were cleared of all but F-16s and a handful of emergency medical flights. Here are some stories from that flight: (From LifeLine Pilots: the shortest distance between ...Read more
- Originally posted to ontheroadagainagain.com on October 22, 2014 A dear friend and operator of a top quality flight school posed this question in a lesson. Although he was teaching aspiring pilots, the lesson applies to a host of life situations: “You are driving down a four-lane highway. There are high curbs on either side of the ...Read more
- Originally published February 11, 2015 While tooling down the road in GrandpaLyle’s Ark, I thought of Bill Reyer, a dear friend who lives in New York, and how much I thought he would enjoy being on the road like I was. It wasn’t long after that that we talked and I shared these thoughts with him. We ...Read more
- Originally posted May 6, 2016 More than a year ago I posted part one of this story with the promise of “more to come.” But I never finished. Just a week ago Bill, my partner in the adventure, shared his version. He tells it better than I ever could. Thanks, Bill. Not only for the story, ...Read more