“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it…” ― Wilferd Peterson
“I turned left onto a half-mile final for a south landing. There it was, five thousand feet of new concrete; an airport thirty years in the making, carved out of farmland in rural Kansas. My Kansas. My roots. My spirit welled up as I made my final traffic call, “Rooks County Regional Airport traffic, Aircoupe three zero five two golf, on short final for runway one-eight. “ The little red coupe seemed to perk up as I trimmed her to follow the visual glide path to a flawless, slightly cross-wind landing. I could almost hear Daddy smile from that great cloud of witnesses as we taxied off the runway onto the ramp toward the waiting crowd.
I had been following the progress of the new Rooks County Regional Airport (KRKS) since I learned, during a 23 year high school class reunion in 2006, that plans were back underway for an all weather airport near my hometown. So when I was invited to the dedication by a former classmate, I knew I had to fly the Aircoupe back “home”.
Dreamers are Planners
- some planning, since the coupe had been hangared at an airport we owned property on near Fort Worth, Texas since 2000.
- three days,
- four take-offs and landings
- and a new battery to get her there
It had been a while since I had flown her cross-country, so I took extra time in planning. allowing for unplanned delays. It all adds to the adventure and here we were 760 miles later on short final.
But perhaps I should start further back. I am not sure when Daddy became enamored with aviation. He was a self-taught mechanic like many of his time. Most training came through necessity in keeping whatever piece of machinery that was required to deal with daily life in good working order.
Yet, Dad had a knack. He just seemed to know how to get things to work. He could not explain it, nor could he articulate the math, science, engineering or physics behind it, he just figured it out. I suspect the knowing came from years of experience both good and bad. As Will Rogers said, “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.”
It started with cars and motorbikes, but at some point airplanes got into the mix. The nearest transport airport was 20 miles away in the next county south, so it was not as if we saw planes flying overhead every day. As a child, I recall vague references to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Oshkosh, and Dad deciding to build an EAA biplane. He did begin building the biplane and made good progress, but sometime around 1963 a pretty red 1961 Forney Aircoupe arrived at the new Plainville, KS airpark and the bi-plane went into second place. Daddy was not yet a pilot, but had been seriously bit by the flying bug.
Airplanes require runways and there were six to ten guys who gathered at the local grass strip in support of each other’s passion for flying. They worked together on their aircraft, learned from each other, dreamed, laughed and (although details are fuzzy to protect the guilty) exercised a bit of that “bad judgment”.
Daddy did learn to fly and the Aircoupe was a key element in his learning. As far as I know, he had minimum formal flight training having never attended ground school. He was self-taught from a set of books I ave since inherited. He was a good pilot, but had difficulty articulating his knowledge in the form of the FAA’s oral and written exams. None-the-less, after several attempts those qualifications were met.”
To be continued …..
Flight, both the piloting of it and controlling of it, has been a stone in my bridge for almost all of my life. Writing about this aspect of the bridge of my life stirs gratitude, inspiration and joy.
Have you discovered some aspect of your stone bridge that stirs similar emotion? Let me know in the comment section below. I would love to hear about it.