In many ways, the Earth is a large place. Yet in other ways, not so much.
When it comes to aviation, the world shrinks. You either look skyward longingly, or you don’t. Those of us who do share a bond and joy the vast majority of our fellow earthbound neighbors don’t, and won’t. That’s sad.
A few months ago, I started asking new subscribers to The Pulse of Aviation (our daily email newsletter), what it is they do in aviation. Pilot? Mechanic? Enthusiast? Did they have a story or photo they’d like to share?
So far, I’ve received a few dozen responses. I’m amazed at the depth and breadth. Here’s a few…
William Brady is 72 and flew professionally for 52 years (30,000+ hours). Floats, wheels, skis, helicopter. Spent 42 years flying the Arctic in DC-3s, both on wheels and skis. He flew 5,175 hours doing watering bombing missions in a PBY (dropped 43 million pounds of water and retardant).
Retired while flying the Boeing 767, then spent the next 13 summers on floats in the high Arctic islands on DHC-2 and C-206. 3,000 hours SINCE he retired.
Today, he flies his Skybolt from his home airport, Victoria International in British Columbia, Canada.
At the other end of the experience spectrum is Peng Liu. Peng says, “I am just a reader from China, interested in aviation.”
Chevy Muñiz Bueno is a 44-year-old attorney from Puert Rico. He is restarting his dream of flying. Chevy had completed his private pilot ground school back in 2004, and logged some instruction in a Cessna 172, but didn’t finish.
Today, Chevy is working on his Sport Pilot certification and has accumulated five hours in a Quicksilver Sport II.
“I enjoy flying and hope to be able to go to SUN ‘n FUN in Florida this next year to get more into the sport and later get my own plane.”
“I have a Rand Robinson-designed KR-2 and also a John Taylor-designed Taylor-Mono plane,” said Donald January. “I also have a 1939 Stinson HW-75 that I’m attempting to restore. I plan on flying behind Franklin engines on the Stinson and KR-2. The Taylor-Mono will be VW powered.”
Donald is 56 years “young” and the son of a cropduster. He lives in North Dakota and “just loves to build and fly.” He got started at 2 sitting on his Dad’s lap while flying in a J-3 Cub.
“I just came across General Aviation News today,” wrote Ireland’s Anna-Grace. “I’m learning to fly. Professional is the goal! Mission work is the ultimate goal.”
Rose Dickeson spent 28 years working in the graphics and photo departments of TWA flight training in Kansas City. The constant connection with “new hires” sparked an interest in flying. She and a fellow TWA employee bought a Cessna 140 in which she earned her private.
Soon after, in 1981, Rose bought a 1976 Cessna 150M that had just 780 hours total time. She upgraded the panel and earned her instrument rating. That rating came in handy as she flew around the midwest visiting family and friends.
She doesn’t like to “scud run,” but had the confidence to fly in conditions that would otherwise ground her.
At one point, Rose considered becoming an airline pilot, so she earned her commercial and multi-engine ratings. But when her “favorite instructor started flying with a commuter” she quickly realized that career choice wasn’t for her.
“But the ratings meant a lot to my airplane insurance rates!” she reports.
Today, Rose has settled in Tucson, Ariz., and still flies her trusty 150. Both Rose and her 150 have now topped 3,000 hours of flight time.
The last story I’ll share (for now) is from George Kateros from Greece-Thessaloniki. I truly enjoyed receiving George’s email. George is a 64-year-old retired civil engineer with a passion for flying. In 2009, he bought Microsoft Flight Simulator. Since, he has flown thousands of hours in almost every kind of plane.
“Of course, I did all that in the luxury of my room,” he said.
All the while, George wondered if he could really put his practice to use in a plane, or would he “turn pale and sick?”
As luck would have it, George met a retired military pilot (who flew F-4 Phantoms) who also owned a Cessna 172. As they started talking airplanes, his new friend concluded that George was indeed a pilot and would get the chance to find out for real.
On the day of George’s first flight, his host placed him in the “pilot in command seat.” Working through the checklist, George was able to “make all the procedures.” But when it came to engine start, his friend stopped him.
Worried, George asked what he’d done wrong. The owner replied, “we cry out loud in the open window… PROPELLER-PROPELLER for someone we didn’t notice being around.” To that, George said, “sorry sir, but there was no one in my room when I flew Microsoft Flight Simulator.” (That line made me laugh.)
George already knew the airport “by heart,” so taxiing was a non-event.
“To cut a long story short, I flew for over one hour making one touch and go and a perfect landing. To tell you the truth, I felt like I was home. It was marvelous. And I did not turn pale. My dream has been fulfilled.”
He quickly credits Microsoft Flight Simulator for his success.
I exchanged a few emails with George. He closed his last message with, “show everyone that no matter religion, language, beliefs, ideologies or color, the feeling of flying above ground or seas is unique and maybe helps everyone to really understand who we are, what we are, what we must want from life.”
Does you recognize yourself in any of these stories? The variety of experiences is truly amazing and inspiring. So…what’s your story?
We’re all more similar — especially when it comes to flying — that not. May that never change.