Sine qua non


“Without which, Nothing.”

IT NEVER would have happened, this scene, under zero conditions would ever I have stood on this beach, heard this cool water whispering in the sand, felt that breeze across the water, were it not for the machine you see here, colored maroonish-white.

Is that what they had in mind, the ones who labored and failed, labored and won the inventions of flight?  “It’s not the machine that matters,” would they have said, “it’s the experience that the machine will bring to lives unborn!”

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It’s hard to tell by looking


I’LL BET that the man in the front cockpit of that T-28 doesn’t look much different to you from any other instructor pilot you’ve known.

It’s hard to tell by looking, but Jamie V. Forbes was one of those few men whose sheer quiet character taught me more than the hundred-some hours we flew together.

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Quiz for pilots

HERE’S A judgment-test for you.  Don’t be concerned, it’s just a little quiz, and of course our lives depend on your decision:

It’s early April.  You are I are flying the Lake Amphibian from Florida to Washington State, westbound out of Rawlins, Wyoming at noon toward Twin Falls, Idaho.  It was summer in Florida, but right now we’re 30 miles east of Ogden and the outside air temperature is 12 degrees F.  I’d like to turn the heater on, but I haven’t run it since last winter and if some bird built a nest in there we’ll have a fire when I hit the Heater-Start switch and I’m not up to a fire just now I’d rather freeze.

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Rarely Asked Questions: How I started flying…

I learned to fly airplanes because I took a course in archery, my only year in college.

At the archery range, the man next to me, instead of firing his arrow, relaxed his bow and looked up at a little airplane flying overhead.

How strange, I thought…nobody looks at airplanes unless they have a special interest in them.  So by way of a joke, I said, “I’ll bet you’re looking for someone to come out to the airport every weekend, wash and polish your airplane and if they do that you’ll teach them how to fly.”  Just that crazy sentence popped into my head.

Bob Keech turned to me a little startled and said, “How did you know?”

The F-86H: what a little (OK, big) sweetheart to fly!

He had just earned his Limited Flight Instructor certificate, and needed to train five student pilots before he could become a real Certified Flight Instructor.  And there I stood, Student Number One.

I washed and polished his Luscombe 8E, had my first flying lessons and soloed.  I loved it, went crazy for flying, dropped out of college, joined the Air Force as an Aviation Cadet, never looked back.

How our lives are shaped by impossible coincidence!