Our choices can lead us to amazing destinations…or nowhere.
“This kind of flying,” was Bill Langdon’s answer to my asking, “What kind of flying do you mostly do?”
We’d just lifted off from the back country mountain strip at the Minam River Lodge en route to nearby Joseph, Oregon, with a load of trash. [You can read about the Minam Airlift here.]
Langdon started flying in 1996 and has logged roughly 3,000 hours since. About 2,300 of those hours were in his Cessna 185 he flies from his 700-foot strip at his home in Lebanon, Oregon. He’s a builder by trade, but a natural in the cockpit.
After Langdon dropped me in Joseph, rather than turn for home, he was heading to Idaho to visit friends. In fact, before we landed, he took me on a quick loop around Wallowa Lake (just south of Joseph) and told me of the time friends invited him to use their cabin. In exchange for a place to stay, he took the family and a few friends for flights. More than a fare in his book.
“I’ve lived a rather charmed April,” said Mike Hart as we, and several other pilots, sat on the deck of the Minam River Lodge. Mike went on to explain he believes, “every single hour you fly is special.” But some tend to be more special. A non-routine experience fits the bill for Hart.
On April 1 he took his Cessna 206, newly outfitted with vortex generators, out for crosswind landing practice. “A 20+ knot crosswind component makes for a memorable experience,” he relays. On April 8 he took his 1945 J-3 Cub (with fewer than 600 hours total time, but that’s another story) out for its first flight since its top-end overhaul. The overhaul came as a result of seized rings that led to an adventurous landing late last year.
He also talked Cirrus sales rep Ivy McIver into letting him put some hi-def video cameras on a turbo SR-22 and take it for a flight around Grand Teton. “I haven’t cut the video yet, but what a flight,” he said.
All the above was capped off with some great backcountry flying as part of the Minam Airlift. “Backcountry flying is always special,” he said, adding, “being the guy to deliver and help Recreational Aviation Foundation videographer Jim Clark made it all the more so.”
And the month was just half over.
I’m also working on a story about Jennifer Julian, which you can read in an upcoming issue. In 2006, she received a double lung transplant. Today, she is a student pilot.
If you asked 100 people, I doubt fewer than 10 would say Jennifer’s led a charmed life. But to watch the video of her on the Stanford Hospital website, and converse back and forth via email, the energy this woman exudes in palpable.
She could easily have lived a “safe” and uneventful life given all the health issues she’s survived. Who would blame her? Not me.
But that’s not how she’s choosing to live. Learning to fly has been a lifelong dream, and she’s making it happen.
Even me — when I look over at the calendar on my wall, starting with February, I’ve gotten to hang with great aviation folk in Puyallup, Wash., for the Northwest Aviation Conference; in Bozeman, Mont., for the Montana Aviation Conference; in Lakeland, Fla., for the Sun ’n Fun Fly-In; and in northeast Oregon for the Minam Airlift. And I still get to go to Anchorage for the Alaska State Aviation Conference and Idaho Falls for the Aviation Idaho Trade Show in May.
These opportunities have happened for two reasons: First, and most importantly, I have a supremely supportive family led by my wife, Deb (thank you); second, I’ve chosen to participate. For the Minam trip, thank you Mary Rosenblum, Oregon Pilots Association president-elect, for suggesting I tag along. Your invitation led to a memory for a lifetime.
In addition, I’ve added some great friends, heard many wonderful stories, and received some tremendous support.
I’d say each of us is living a charmed life. And know it.
So, do you live a charmed life? If so, congratulations. Keep it up. If not, you’re a lot closer than you think. In fact, it’s just a choice away.
Ben Sclair is publisher. He can be reached at Ben@GeneralAviationNews.com.
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