Ever said something that you wished you hadn’t?
Have there been times when a comment you made seemed perfectly good at the moment you said it but, on reflection, you realized it came out the wrong way?
Are you one of those people who has ever made a sarcastic comment that, when taken out of context, had a different meaning than what you intended? How about having something you’ve said come back to haunt you later on?
Finally, have you ever made a statement that was quoted in a newspaper that, when you read it, made you cringe?
I know I’ve been guilty of every one of those scenarios and I think the manager of a general aviation airport near Chicago is in about the same boat these days.
Lansing (Illinois) Municipal Airport Manager Robert Malkas was quoted in a recent edition of the Chicago Tribune saying: “I want to thank Mayor Daley for tearing down his airport.”
Now I don’t know Mr. Malkas, but I would be willing to bet you anything that he meant that as a sarcastic slap at Mayor Daley because his airport is getting new and extra general aviation traffic as a result of Meigs Field being destroyed.
I don’t really believe he is happy that Meigs Field is gone. Very possibly, when he was talking with a reporter, he made that comment in answer to a specific query that made his quote logical. Whatever the reason, the end result isn’t what Malkas probably wanted and it is definitely not the best position for general aviation.
I fear this quote will be one of those to come back and haunt not only Malkas, but also general aviation in general. I can see this quote being pulled out from an online search and reprinted without any real background. The article will simply call attention to Malkas’ comment thanking Mayor Daley for tearing down the airport.
With general aviation under attack so often, and from so many quarters, we all need to watch exactly what we say because we never know when or how those words will be thrown back at us. General aviation needs all the positive images and activities that it can get, not well meaning but easily misinterpreted statements.
On a more positive side, a fellow I’ve known for more than 30 years came by the office the other day to tell me how he planned to celebrate his 85th birthday.
While that in itself might not be anything spectacular, this individual is still flying and enjoying every minute of it.
Ralph (Slim) Lawson has been flying for more than 60 years and running his airport in Spanaway, Wash., for most of those years.
For those unfortunate enough not to have had the privilege of knowing or meeting Slim, let me tell you a few things about this guy. First, Slim is 6-foot, 6-inches tall (give or take an inch). He’s been instructing for most of his 60 years of flying. How he manages to fold his legs into a Cessna 150, a J-3 or Champ is something to behold. I’ve seen him do it and I still don’t believe he can get inside that airplane and have room for a student, too, let alone manipulate the rudder controls.
When I flew to Tacoma to see about buying this newspaper in 1970, Slim picked me up at Sea-Tac in a Cessna 210 and flew me back to Spanaway. When my wife, Mary Lou, started taking flying lessons, Slim was the instructor she chose to work with. And she still chuckles about how different that Cessna 150 flew on her first solo when he unfolded his giant frame from the inside of the plane. “It just shot straight up,” she declares. “And he didn’t even warn me about that!”
He’s one of the few people I know who can refuel a Cessna 150 standing on the ground and not use a ladder. And, besides being so tall, Slim is completely bald. Not only is he bald, but no eyebrows or any other hair. He explained to me that he got sick many, many years ago and lost all the hair on his body. It never grew back.
Slim is a soft-spoken pilot’s pilot. He’s spent his entire life helping get folks into the air and the number of airline pilots out there to whom he gave primary instruction numbers in the thousands.
Happy Birthday Slim. I hope you have many more!
Dave Sclair was co-publisher from 1970 to 2000.