New beginnings

Deb McFarland

Today, my sister-in-law is getting married.

There is a smile on my face and joy in my heart as I write this. While my readers may think, “Gee that’s nice, Mrs. McFarland, but what does this have to do with flying?”

It has everything to do with my flying of late because it gives me perspective.

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The other husband

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“It’s funny how things evolve. If you’ve ever noticed, change is seldom abrupt. Instead, it comes like spring, in small, barely perceptible stages, until one day you look around and realize your world is green again. That’s the way it was with Boonie.

One day, Charles Watson Darnell, known about town simply as Boonie, was just a passenger, someone who liked to fly. Before too long, he was my friend. This is not so unusual except that maybe 30 years stand between us. Now, he is so much more.

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Family tradition

H.L. Wilkinson poses with his son Lee in front of his new 1932 Alexander Eaglerock.

Back before David “Shorty” Wilkinson had a reason to be nicknamed “Shorty,” (because he is, after all, bean-pole tall) he thought every family traveled by airplane, because every family he knew had one. This made sense to him since his mom and dad were from Texas but lived in Georgia. An airplane made visiting relatives possible.

Some of his earliest memories as a child involved the restoration of the family station wagon, a 1943 V-77 Stinson, in the basement of their home. [Read more…]

Full circle

Photo by Keith McFarland

In a couple of weeks, the Old Man and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. I can’t say that it seems just like yesterday that we were young newlyweds. We’ve enjoyed a full and satisfying 30 years, and we have tried to take advantage of each and every precious day.

We’ve been blessed to experience many special things in those years. We’ve grown a wonderful family. We’ve had some grand adventures, and we’ve done a little flying here and there, lately a little more here than there. When we first started our lives together, times were tough. Gas was expensive. Jobs were scarce. The economic outlook was dim. Seems like we’ve come full circle.

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Lightning Man

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My Old Man met Johnny Smith during an act of of immeasurable kindness. We were finally able to relocate back to Henry’s hometown of Canton, Georgia, in the early 1980s. With our few worldly possessions moved, it was time to fly the Luscombe 8A to her new home.

I drove Henry to the grass field a couple of hours west of our new home where she was based, saw him off and started the drive back to 47A, Cherokee County Airport, now CNI. About an hour into the drive, I was hoping he and Lucy were safely on the ground. Rain was pouring, lightning was cracking and thunder was booming. It was so bad I finally pulled off the road to wait for the storm to pass.

At Cherokee, Johnny had come by to make sure his Champ was properly secured against the impending storm when he saw the little Luscombe land just ahead of the deluge. He rushed to help the pilot tie her down, and when he grabbed the wing strut, lightning popped and he was knocked to the ground. The Old Man was jolted as well.

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Mr. Murphy and his laws

The Old Man on the hotel verandah.

I didn’t make the Lady Taildragger Fly-In held in Savannah, Tenn., the first weekend in June, and from the comments on the website and the texts from my friend and fellow pilot, Sharon Tinkler, it was a roaring success. Kudos to founder and organizer of Ladies Love Taildraggers, Judy Birchler, and Savannah-Hardin airport manager Montille Warren for their hard work.

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” In my case, Murphy’s Law should be modified to “Many events that you want or should attend will be scheduled the same weekend as far apart as possible in order to cause as much stress as possible.” [Read more…]

Looking for Clint Eastwood


Folks haven’t seen us around the airport much for the past few weeks. An early and long spring has put the Old Man into a planting and building fervor. You name the vegetable and it’s probably planted in our garden. It’s really nice to have fresh produce, but many of the vegetables he planted in large quantities will be ready for harvest around mid-July. I hope he retains some of this enthusiasm when the temperatures are 90 squared (90°F and 90% humidity).

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Visiting family

It’s no exaggeration — Atlanta traffic is bad. Even though we live 60 miles north of the city, my family lives three hours south. There’s no way around it. If I want to visit them, I must travel through a sprawling congested mess. The interstate straight through the city is often snarled and the loop around it is just as bad.

So when I learned to fly years ago, it was a relief to my Old Man that I finally had a safer mode of transportation to use when I wanted to see my family. He didn’t worry as much when I flew down in my C-172C than when I traveled by car. [Read more…]