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Learning to Fly – Again

If the Lord had wanted man to fly…

…He would have given him more money.

This narrative takes off with the intention of sharing the experiences of two old geezers who want to fly airplanes. Well, they are not really old – both are “close” to their 50s but not “in” their 50s. Mike is close on the low side and Bill is close on the high side (ages apply at the time this dialog begins).
Mike is ready to taxi to the active runway. Mike has had several hours of flying time in small aircraft, but no “documented” time, until last Thursday (July 3, 2008) – but that’s another story. The picture to the left shows him in the pilot seat taxiing a Cessna 172 at Harford Air Services, Harford County Airport, Aldino (near Churchville), MD.

Bill passed his check ride and received his Private Pilot Certificate in December of 1966 and last flew a light plane as Pilot In Command (PIC) in May of 1972. He, too received documented flight time (as PIC) last Thursday – but that’s part of the other story.

Mike is also an accomplished Radio Control Airplane and helicopter pilot. Bill is just learning, but is learning quickly. Why mention that? The principles of flight are the same for model aircraft as they are for full size airplanes – right on up to the “big iron” flown by the airlines and the military.

Bill’s Private Pilot License was earned a long time ago.

Bill’s Pilot License was obtained during college and still had his “old” address – because he had moved a couple of times, started and raised a family with his wonderful wife, and realistically didn’t plan to fly any more. Raising and educating two fine children takes a lot of money – there was none left over with which to rent airplanes.

However, two events happened over the course of the last year that re-kindled Bill’s interest in flight. One was something called the Liberty Bell Jet Rally in Pennsylvania last August, but that, too, is another story. The other aviation event impacting Bill’s interest in a big way was a Gift Certificate for a WarBird Ride in May of this year (08).

Bill in an AT-6 Texan

Thirty minutes in that 60 year-old AT-6 “Texan” with 20 minutes of stick time brought back fond memories. Shortly thereafter, just for kicks, Bill logged on to the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Web site and requested a change of address for his original certificate. As coincidence would have it, the newly issued Pilot License arrived in the mail – last Thursday, which again, is another story – but one that leads up to buying an Ercoupe antique aircraft, passing a long-overdue BFR, and getting back into the air.

* If man’s second greatest thrill is flying…

…then man’s greatest thrill must be landing. Remember that takeoffs are optional, but landings are mandatory. Enjoy the ride.