By Mitchell Gossman
My interest in aviation began when I was just 3.
My aunt and I flew from Rochester, Minnesota, to St. Paul, Minnesota, in a taildragger airliner. I remember walking up the stairs on the ramp and then uphill into that plane, eventually sitting down in the window seat.
I still remember telling my aunt that the cars looked like toys, which no doubt were driving along US Highway 52.
Years later, my research revealed that my first flight almost certainly was on a North Central Airlines DC-3.
Fast forward about 24 years when I was asked by one of my work colleagues, the retina surgery fellow at the Mayo Clinic, if I wanted to tag along in his rented Piper Warrior to transport one of the other medical residents from Rochester to Flying Cloud, southwest of Minneapolis.
Never before or since has a “yes” yielded so much expense and joy! (My girlfriend saying “yes” only generated joy.)
He let me fly the entire route, even the landing, including the flare and touchdown, with his hands poised over the yoke — which he didn’t have to touch — talking me through it. I was hooked.
Right away, I began moonlighting to pay for instruction and earned my private pilot certificate.
I’ve been through four airplanes since. I’m currently flying a Mooney, and I see no reason to get anything else.
What is the best part about flying and owning an airplane?
I can hop into my airplane (almost) any time I want. I get as much pleasure out of flying to a sleepy airport in the middle of nowhere as I do flying IFR to Chicago, Kansas City, and beyond.
It’s the perfect combination of everything I love: Freedom, this great state and nation, technology, beauty, photography, practical and speedy travel, and socializing.
Owning a plane really helps, especially when you can use that freedom to see places where you have never been before, as well as revisiting places you enjoyed.
For this reason I’m working on landing at every single airport in the Midwest five-state area.
Like me, you can create your own challenges and enjoy the fun and freedom that flight has to offer.
If you are a student or private pilot reading this, start shopping for your own airplane, because aircraft purchase and ownership has never been more affordable in my memory.
Mitchell Gossman of Saint Cloud, Minnesota, is a private pilot who owns a Mooney and an ophthalmologist.