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!



Rarely Asked Questions: How did Jonathan Seagull come to you?

NOT THE WAY I expected it to come.

The first time in my life I heard a voice, with no one there to speak it.  I was walking alone one evening, a starving young writer desperate to know how I was going to pay the rent.  Then someone behind me and to my right, said, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.”  It was decades before I realized that was a simple, honest answer to my question.

I turned, pretty well startled, and there was no one there.  I went home, frightened, and locked the door behind me, wondering who was the voice and what was a Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  Hours of puzzlement later, about the time I had to admit I hadn’t a clue what was a Jonathan Livingston Seagull, my office wall disappeared, and in its place, a Cinerama screen.  On the screen I saw the ocean below, and the sky and one solitary that’s what must be a Jonathan Seagull.

The story unfolded and I wrote what I saw, as fast as I could write, scene by scene.

Continue reading