The first ride.
Shortly after being released from active duty, a death in the family caused me to ask my friend, Pamela Arnett, to marry me, earlier than I had planned. I needed a job, and a plan, and a place to live. I had lived at Almar Apartments, on the third floor, before I went in the military, and now, a ground floor apt. was available.
This is where we lived when my son Todd was born and I worked, and I attended National Guard meetings, where I had a friend, Eric Johnson. He always was talking about being a pilot, and one day, he talked me into going for a ride. I had always been terrified of flying, and as we walked up to the airplane we were to fly, a Citabria, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Champion_Citabria and I reached out my hand and touched the skin of the plane.
It felt like a thick plastic bag streched real tight. I tried to talk my way out of getting
into something that I could completely destroy with a pocket knife. Eric
assured me that the skin was a lot tougher than it looked. We took off from
The first lesson.
I lived close to a small airfield,
It has a 2,500ft paved runway, and a grass runway, however long you could make it, between telephone wires about 3,000ft apart. There was a sweet lady there, named Marilyn Harvey; I chatted with her about maybe taking some lessons. She told me what was available, and introduced me to "Bob Montgomery", flight instructor, and he told me some prices. That should have stopped me right there because I was newly married, and had one child already. She offered me a job pumping avgas, and I remember trading with my instructor, car parts for lessons. He owned a Luscombe 8A. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luscombe_8
This is a picture of a cherry one. Bob’s wasn’t so cherry. It looked worse and worse, the closer I got to it, and I started having second thoughts.
When he opened the cowl for a preflight, there was a “Frantz Oil Filter” on the engine. For those of you, under 50, a frantz oil filter has a can, into which you insert a roll of toilet paper, http://www.frantzoil.com/TOILETPAPER.html and rather than a filter, all the oil is pumped through the toilet paper, highly illegal in aviation.
I had learned how to “prop” the engine, to start it, and I climbed in, and tried to close the door. It was really noisy, and as we started to taxi, I could see the ground go by in the gap of the door. The tail wheel shook the whole plane as we taxied. We took off, and I had the controls, right away. We did stalls, spins, wing overs, and a bunch of stuff that had me thinking about breakfast.
The first few hours went really fast, and it became time to solo. Bob said he didn't want me crashing his airplane, so he gave me a couple lessons in the Aeronca Champ., (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeronca_Champion) owned by the Harveys.
I was absolutely terrified when Bob got out and told me, "Take her around". Starting right then, I gave up: car parts, lunch money, and beer bottle deposits on flying solo, and getting all the things, like cross countries, out of the way.
I was working in one of three gas
stations, pumping gas at the airport, and working at United Control
It wasn't long 'till I had enough hours and credits, (passing the written), to take the pilots test. I passed, and as soon as I had a temporary license in my hand, I took my wife and 2 week old son, Scott for a ride in the champ.
It wasn't long before I moved up to bigger and better things. I got checked out in the Cessna 150,
and then the Cessna 172.
One of my favorite trips was
As you can see, the prevailing wind is blowing smoke towards the runway, and you might think that runway 16 is the way to go, however, 16 runs downhill at an alarming rate, should you choose to go by what you can see. The runway is quite long, and I attempted to land into the wind. As I got closer to touchdown, the ground seemed to drop away, and I would have been wise to go around, but my pride caused me to force the airplane down, and stand up on the brakes. When I came to a stop, I was inches away from winding two miles of barbwire in my prop.
This was a stressful time for me, because I was changing jobs, and moving from house to trailer, to apartment, to moving out of state.
The big move
After nearly 3 years at
Boeing, it was layoff time, and being proud, rather than be laid off, I quit
and took a job in
I went to one of the schools, and asked to rent a 172. They didn't have any hi wing airplanes to rent, so one of the instructors asked if I would like to get checked out in the Piper Cherokee 140. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PiperPA-28-236DakotaC-GGFSPhoto4.JPG I liked, and I took a check ride, and I fell in love again.
I logged a lot of hours in the Cherokee-140, 'till one day I took the wife and kids to go for a ride. We all got in the 140 and I taxied out for takeoff. I stopped short of the runway, and did a runup. The left mag was ok, but when I switched to right mag, the engine died. I turned around to taxi back to the hangar, and when I got close to my parking place, the right mag died also. I got out of my dead airplane and walked back to the flight school. I asked for another 140, but another was not available. The guy that checked me out said that I could have a Beechcraft Musketeer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beechcraft_Musketeer
He said that they were so much alike, that, with my skills, I wouldn't require a check ride. I loaded up the family, and we took off without further incident, until I picked up my microphone to radio the control tower. I noticed a battery light that said "discharged". I entered the pattern with wing wobbling, till I got the green light, then safely landed. The lesson in this for me, was that no matter how much alike planes are, get checked out in the one you intend to fly. I saw the battery/generator switch, but I had no idea what position that switch needed to be in. From that day forward, I became a pain in the ass about getting "checked out".
Another big move
The day I drove into
I take him for his first ride in a small plane, he draws on his G.I. bill, and in record time, Steve has his instructors rating. Now we can both log every hour we fly as instruction, him as teacher, and me as student, in no time at all, I have enough hours and credits for my commercial license.
Another big move
This move takes me to a land
where I am the foreigner, and I am amazed by my fellow Americans, always
grumbling that "THEY" should learn to speak English. We are
discouraged from piloting in
It came with a brand new engine in the box.
The engines on that thing were
huge, 27 cylinder radial engines, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratt_%26_Whitney_R-2800_Double_Wasp each one packing 2,600 horsepower. When we looked at it, I thought that it
might sell, in the neighborhood of 50 or 60 thousand dollars. Just for fun, we
asked the price. They were asking 1,000 dollars. In
A Plane, and a Son of his Own
Scott got the first airplane ride, but the bug never bit Scott.
He was my “music boy”. He went on to play in several bands (singing). He has also raised a houseful of musical boys.
I am so proud of my whole family!
Airplanes I have worked on: http://www.petesmemories.com/autowork.html
Go to Sacramento: http://www.petesmemories.com/autosac.html