Doctor’s order: Fly a one-of-a-kind airplane

It all started for Jeff Laskin when he was in first grade in Chicago.

“I was so excited about wearing a ‘Mighty Mouse’ costume for Halloween,” he recalls. “I remember jumping off the desks pretending to fly until the teacher ‘grounded’ me.”

But that teacher couldn’t ground his dreams of flight. Those dreams were put on fast forward when a friend took him flying and told him, “just follow the railroad tracks down there.”

“I knew flying was something I would eventually do,” says Laskin, now a maxillofacial surgeon in Gainesville, Fla., and the first winner of The Southern Aviator’s “Our Favorite 15” Photo Contest.

Just a year after receiving his private pilot’s license in 1984 — with just 85 hours as PIC — he bought 5042S, his 1971 Cherokee Arrow 200.

“I’ve done a lot of work on it,” says Laskin, who notes that he used his artistic abilities to design the paint scheme. “It’s one of a kind,” he adds.

Like many airplane owners, he feels that his Arrow is “more than just an assemblage of its parts. It has its own personality,” he says.

Now based at Gainesville Regional Airport, the Arrow is used almost exclusively for pleasure flying. Laskin tries to fly at least once or twice a week. “In fact, I’m going up later today,” he noted during our conversation in late December.

Most of his flying has been to locations along the East Coast, including Virginia, where his parents live, and Philadelphia, where he attended medical school.

One of his favorite trips was a jaunt to the Florida Keys.

“It was just gorgeous,” he says. “Everything was so green and blue. It was the nicest sky I’ve ever been in.”

Long-term plans include a cross-country to California to visit his brother. And while he’s toyed with the idea of another airplane, perhaps an experimental for the speed or a Bonanza, he’s very satisfied with his pride and joy.

“I really like this airplane,” he says.

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