Growing up on a small Midwestern Airport was the highlight of my childhood. My peer's heroes were often sports figures, movies stars, or celebrities. My heroes were pilots. The greats are people like Chuck Yeager, Amelia Earhart, Pancho Barnes, Burt Rutan, and Eddie Rickenbacker. The everyday men and women in my young life are to me heroes. These good folks who shared a simple love of flying and would take the gangly airport kid up just for fun. My friends knew the stats on baseball players, I new the performance specs on every small aircraft since WWII.
I can remember fall afternoons
riding open cockpit with people who can only be categorized as family. The
magic hour glint of the western sun reflecting off the river. The fiery palate
of changing leaves. I can still hear the dull drone of a big continental or Lycoming.
Looking back I can remember the fear and exhilaration of my
first landing. The runway would rush up and then a big flare before the wheels
kissed the grass. The flights were never long enough, I could do touch and gos
happily all day long.
Through the summer months my
parents would hosts Pancake breakfasts fly-ins. A dozen electric griddles
manned by volunteers in a Quonset hangar. They would come for miles in sleek
new Archers and antique wire braced biplanes.
Out would spill men in leather
Jackets with brave talk, dirty jokes, and hearty laughs. The wives of pilots
often gather and wonder what attracts these men to the sky again and again.
Never a wife envied a machine more than a pilot's wife his plane.
I hope the modern age whatever
happens, never loses the magic of flight and the brave people who dare to leave