Books I Read Again, Movies I Watch Over and Over:

YOU CAN TELL a lot about a person when you know what she loves to read, what he loves to watch.  What’s a really private guy doing with a website in which he chooses to show these to whomever drops by?  Is a puzzlement.  (You’re remembering that line from The King and I, aren’t you?)  Perhaps he cares more about being known to his little family around the world, reflecting their own values, than he does about his online privacy.

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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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THERE THEY were, mid autumn.  Under the maple tree a host of dead leaves, bright lives gone.  On one branch nearly bare of leaves stayed the green one, barely touched by time and wind, by the rain and heat that that had scorch-beaten so many others to death.

I stood there in the path and watched the dead ones rustle on the ground, the green one flutter in the breeze, “Go along, death, I am not your subject!

Is it the same with us, too?  What is it makes some folks flutter years on their branch, laugh at dying long after their peers are dust?

The echo that came to me was attitude: what we most deeply believe about who we are, what we know about our place in the universe, the delight with which we engage that which we most love.

You have your examples, I have mine; we just fit different names to the ones we know fell away from the branch early and why, the ones who stayed and why.  Not that falling away’s the end of the world, us leaves will be back, trying life again next Spring.

How essential, I thought, is such an invisible thing: the way we happen to think, to all the visibles of our lifetime!

Curious, I picked that emerald flag from above the path, lifted the dead one from the ground, brought them home.  As the weeks went by, neither changed.  Both are dry, but the green leaf’s still living green, the dead one’s still dead.

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!